Warrant: Smith County deputy accessed secure database to assist drug trafficker from Mexico

Crime & Public Safety

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A Smith County deputy is accused of using his unique login information to access a secure database to assist a drug trafficking operation from Mexico, according to an arrest warrant obtained by KETK News.

28-year-old Luis A. Sandoval was arrested back in August and charged with misuse of official information. It came after a months-long investigation by the East Texas Anti-Gang Task Force.

He had been employed with the department from November 2017 to August 2021.

The warrant alleged that Sandoval received a text message from a phone in Mexico asking him to run the driver’s license of a man trying to cross back into the U.S. who was a known drug dealer.

The warrant included excerpts from multiple text messages from July 2 to July 3 that had to be translated from Spanish. One of them read:

“I don’t know if you can do this, but I have a friend who moves drugs so what happened was my friend, they got his truck, they got him with a bunch of drugs, now the truck’s over here, and he hasn’t crossed. His mom and wife are crossing, we need to find out if this dude has an arrest report so I need you to check that because he sent me the dude’s ID, if you could check it out for me.”

Text from Mexico to Luis Sandoval

Another text sent later in the day to Sandoval said “I will deposit for you. Look, there’s nothing going to be wrong. I’ll erase it once I show it to him.”

Sandoval agreed and searched the Texas Crime Information Center that is used to lookup warrants and criminal history, which can only be accessed through a unique login given to each peace officer. He texted back the friend that the man, Martin Manriquez, had no active warrants for his arrest.

The Texas Penal Code has two requirements to violating the statute of misuse of official information that Sandoval is charged with:

  • Discloses information from his employment for a nongovernment purpose
  • The information has not been made public

The warrant alleged that Sandoval violated this section because the information was accessed from a secure database that is not available to the general public.

Sandoval was booked on a $250,000 bond, which he posted one day later. He is facing up to 10 years in prison, if convicted.

Sandoval is not the only Smith County law enforcement officer in hot water recently. Last week, former Smith County Pct. 2 Constable Joshua Black was convicted of official oppression and sentenced to six months in jail. He was also removed from office by court order.

Commissioners will be meeting Tuesday to discuss his replacement. Black is also facing a second official oppression charge and two misdemeanor prostitution allegations.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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