-- An ex-Houston police officer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to dealing cocaine and marijuana while on duty and in uniform.
Gilberto Davila Zertuche
Gilberto Zertuche, 43, an 18-year police department veteran, was sentenced Monday.
He was charged with providing protection for a deal in which a kilogram of cocaine -- 2.2 pounds -- and 100 pounds of marijuana were exchanged at an apartment in Humble on Feb. 24
, prosecutors said.
While Zertuche was neither a buyer or a seller, he oversaw the transaction, and helped weigh the drugs and count the money, said Assistant District Attorney Julian Ramirez.
"He was in uniform and he was putting at ease any fears that the drug dealers, which in this case were undercover cops, might have had that they were going to be robbed or that something was going to go down
," Ramirez said in Tuesday's editions of the Houston Chronicle.
Zertuche was paid about $5,000, Ramirez said.
The former police officer was taken into custody after pleading guilty to aggravated delivery of cocaine and delivery of marijuana. He will not be eligible for parole for at least 10 years.
Zertuche could have faced up to life in prison if convicted in a trial, which was scheduled to start Monday before state District Judge Carol Davies.
Zertuche was arrested immediately after the drug deal. He was on duty but away from his assigned post with HPD's Marshals Division, which oversees municipal courts.
Zertuche initially was relieved of duty with pay but was terminated in April, police said.