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Monday, June 9, 2008 - Page updated at 06:55 PM

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Border Patrol agent charged with drug counts

McALLEN, Texas —

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine for allegedly helping two Mexican men smuggle 11 bricks of cocaine into the United States.

Reynaldo Zuniga, a 34-year-old Border Patrol agent from Harlingen, was paid to pick up one of the men along the Rio Grande and then drive him to a fast food restaurant in Hidalgo, where the other man would pick him up, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Monday.

Zuniga, Luis Alfredo Cruz, 29, and Jose Luis Arteaga, 24, were arrested early Saturday morning, said Border Patrol spokesman Ricardo Rosas.

All three men remained in federal custody. At their first court appearance Monday, Cruz and Arteaga - both of whom are both from Reynosa, Mexico - requested that lawyers be appointed to represent them. Zuniga was making arrangements to obtain counsel.

A message seeking comment left at Zuniga's home was not returned.

Officials could not immediately say how long Zuniga had worked for the agency.

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