A neighbor who called police on a man he believed was doing drugs in his truck said he saw the same man, who turned out to be a U.S. Border Patrol agent, doing drugs in the dumpster corral at his apartment complex.
The neighbor, Sharky, said he first called the police on Monday, April 2, to report a suspicious person outside of the Villa Del Mar Apartments off Los Arbolitos Boulevard in Oceanside.
Oceanside police responded to the report but could not find the man or his vehicle in the area. They also came up empty during a follow up the next day.
The Oceanside Police Department (OPD) said officers returned a third time on April 8 and spotted the truck described in the neighbor's report and found USBP Agent Brandon Herrera passed out or asleep inside.
Officers searched Herrera and his truck and say they found nearly five grams of heroin and an illegal AR-15-style rifle. Police said the rifle was a "ghost gun" or a firearm built from individual parts that can be purchased online. Ghost guns don't have serial numbers and are next to impossible to trace.
Sharky said that about three weeks ago, he saw Herrera near the dumpsters at his complex smoking something.
"I seen him smoking a substance. Don't exactly know what it was," Sharky said. The very next day, he saw Herrera doing the same thing in the same place. "I thought he was just a junkie or something. He didn't look like who he represents."
Herrera's girlfriend, who lives at the Villa Del Mar Apartments, told NBC 7 that he is out on bond but not at her home.
His truck is still parked outside of the complex and has considerable damage to its hood and passenger-side fender and bumper.
The girlfriend said she had "no idea" why it was still there.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed Herrera was stripped of his law enforcement authority and placed on administrative leave following his arrest.
In a statement emailed Wednesday, Chief Border Patrol Agent Rodney Scott wrote in part: "The U.S. Border Patrol serves the community with honor and integrity and has zero tolerance for illicit drug use. Any allegation that tarnishes the badge and violates the public trust is taken seriously."
The Border Patrol also said that the San Diego Sector is fully cooperating with OPD's investigation.