An Alabama National Guard soldier was arrested Sept. 13 for attempting to transport a kilogram of cocaine in Hidalgo, Texas, a city that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Spc. Derrick Sankey, a 21-year-old assigned to the 2025th Transportation Company, was picked up during an undercover operation by Homeland Security Investigations agents based in nearby McAllen, the complaint stated.
He was in uniform and driving a marked Border Patrol vehicle when he took possession of the cocaine, the complaint added. Sankey was deployed to Texas as part of the Defense Department’s border support mission, military officials said.
Sankey told law enforcement that he thought he would be paid $1,000 for the pickup and transport of the narcotics, HSI special agent David Racca wrote in the complaint.
Investigators who conducted the operation had received information on Sept. 8 pointing to Sankey being involved in drug transportation and distribution.
Days later, undercover agents set up a sting operation that involved instructing Sankey to pick up a narcotics package at a Whataburger fast food chain in Hidalgo. Sankey agreed to deliver the package to a hotel in McAllen, the complaint stated.
“Sankey admitted that he believed the person he received the package from had brought the package from Mexico into the United States,” the complaint reads.
HSI agents searched Sankey’s hotel room the evening of his arrest, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Sankey appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker on Sept. 14, according to The Monitor, a local news outlet.
Hacker said that an assessment of Sankey’s finances — conducted to determine if a public defender would be appointed — indicated he had a “substantial amount of money” in the bank.
Sankey is being held without bond until a detention hearing slated for Friday.
Army Times staff reporter Davis Winkie contributed to this article.
Leila has covered global military and security operations from across the U.S., the Middle East, and Latin America.