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Texas Border Patrol Agent Convicted of Aiding Drug Cartel


When a government continues an antiquated, failed war on substances – despite overwhelming evidence that the opposite should happen – even their own ilk are subject to illegal black-market activity and the like. Sometimes the illegal activity is relatively harmless; other times, it can be downright deadly. Recently, the latter was the case for a 31-year-old Texas man.

A jury in Brownsville, Texas acquitted former Border Patrol agent Joel Luna of murder charges. However, the jury found Luna guilty of aiding an organized crime ring. Luna had been involved in a drug-related case since 2015 in which a man was decapitated. Prosecutors contend that Luna used his position as a Border Patrolman to help a Mexican cartel move illegal weapons and ammunition south of the border and drugs to the north, into Texas and perhaps other states. A Cameron County jury found Luna guilty of two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity.

Even though Luna was acquitted of the most serious charge of murder, he still faces 20 years in prison. The Brownsville Herald reports prosecutors and Luna’s attorneys agreed on a 20-year sentence in exchange for no appeals. Joel’s brother, 26-year-old Eduardo Luna, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after being found guilty of capital murder and engaging in organized criminal activity.

This is yet another example of the endless hypocrisy of the drug war on display. How many otherwise law-abiding citizens did Luna arrest for simple drug possession during his career as a Border Patrolman? It would be interesting to find that exact number out. If I had to guess, it’s more than the years he’s spending in prison.

Ending the war on drugs certainly would not get rid of crime syndicates and drug cartels entirely. But any time there is a prohibition against a relatively harmless service or substance, a black market will emerge that offers that service or substance. When you reduce the incentives for criminal gangs and drug cartels to smuggle products, you vastly reduce the violence, theft and other crimes that come with that territory. States like Colorado are a great example of this. Their legal cannabis model is not perfect, but it seems to have at least helped to decrease gang activity overall.

We like to hear what our readers have to say. What should have happened to Luna? Was the 20-year prison sentence he got long enough, or should he be doing more time? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. Stop the drug war with objective of shutting down the black market. The drug war has failed. The drug war is driving the problems, not fixing them. Decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them.
    We need to pull LE out of the drug biz – that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure – on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We cant even keep drugs out of a contained & controlled environment like prison.
    We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. Addiction causation research has continued to show that some people (suffering with addiction) have a “hypo-active endogenous opioid/reward system.” This is the (real) brain disease, making addiction a symptom, not a disease itself. One disease, one pathology. Policy must be made reflecting addiction(s) as the health issue that it is.
    The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis. It is not the “great child protection act,” its actually the complete opposite. Let’s remember, opioids (drug) prohibition is a historical and cultural aberration, just 100 years old. We had fewer drug problems in my own grandparents’ time when opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine and cannabis could all still be bought legally over the counter. (Re)legalizing opioids would not be a “risky social experiment”, as some think. On the contrary, drugs prohibition was the reckless social experiment. And its a massive failure. Alcohol prohibition didn’t work, and opioid prohibition is failing even more miserably. The longer we’ve had drug prohibition laws in place, the worse have the social and health problems they cause gotten.
    The lesson is clear: Drug laws do not stop people from harming themselves, but they do cause addicts to commit crimes and harm others. We need a new approach that decriminalizes the disease. We must protect society from the collateral damage of addiction and stop waging war on ourselves. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all.