updated 5/1/2009 6:36:48 PM ET 2009-05-01T22:36:48

A former south Texas sheriff pleaded guilty Friday to a drug-trafficking charge for sharing law-enforcement information with a Mexican drug ring.

Reymundo Guerra entered the plea to conspiring to distribute narcotics while he was Starr County sheriff. As part of a plea deal that recommended dropping two other charges, prosecutors called him a "minor participant."

Still, Guerra could face a sentence from 10 years to life in prison when he's sentenced in July. His attorney, Philip Hilder, said he hopes the plea bargain will mean a lower sentence.

"He realizes he has made serious mistakes in judgment and is accepting responsibility for those lapses in judgment," Hilder said. "He got too close to some of the defendants in this case and provided some information he should not have."

Federal prosecutors said Guerra helped the Mexican Gulf Cartel to operate in his county and endangered fellow law-enforcement agents by sharing names of confidential informants.

Guerra declined comment and remained free on bond until his sentencing. Outside the courtroom, Hilder said Guerra "feels like he let down his family, friends and constituents and he's deeply remorseful."

By sharing information, and in one instance giving false documents to one of his deputies to close a case related to the drug-trafficking operation, Guerra made it easier for the dangerous Mexican Gulf Cartel to move drugs through his county, prosecutors said.

FBI agents arrested Guerra at his office in October after a federal grand jury indicted him and more than a dozen others. The case grew to include 28 defendants.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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