Two former US Border Patrol agents who forced three Mexican pot smugglers to eat marijuana in 2008 were sentenced to two years in federal prison Tuesday. Dario Castillo, 25, and Ramon Zuniga, 31, were convicted by jury in April for violating the civil rights of the four Mexican males they captured in Southern Arizona after other members of the smuggling group ran into the desert to flee the Border Patrol, leaving behind 21 bundles of weed worth approximately $600,000.
Castillo and Zuniga had the four suspects remove their shoes and jackets – which is standard operating procedure – but then Castillo threw the smugglers' clothes into a fire, destroying them. The border cops then made three of the suspects eat handfuls of cannabis while on their knees and handcuffed. All four were subsequently ordered to flee out into the cold desert night without coats or shoes.
After being recaptured by Native American tribal police, the four were transferred to Border Patrol where they made their accusations against Castillo and Zuniga. None of the four were charged with any crime and were eventually deported back to Mexico.
Castillo, who burned the belongings and forced the smugglers to go out in the desert, was convicted of four felony counts and faced a much stiffer sentence than Zuniga, convicted of four misdemeanors for making the suspects eat the weed. However, US District Judge Jennifer Zipps decided that both ex-Feds were equally guilty and deserved the same punishment of two years followed by three years of probation after their release.