US Customs and Border Protection Officer and Two Associates Charged with Undertaking Multi-Year Bribery and Alien Smuggling Operation Along the US/ Mexico Border
WASHINGTON – A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer, his girlfriend and an associate have been charged in Brownsville, Texas, for engaging in a multi-year bribery and alien smuggling operation along the U.S./Mexico border, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
The indictment, which was unsealed today in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas, charges U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Juan Carlos Guerrero, 39, of Mission, Texas; Guerrero’s girlfriend, Claudia Flores, 34, of Mission; and Maribel Rivera, 43, of Mission, each with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, one count of conspiracy to smuggle aliens for financial gain and various substantive counts of bribery and alien smuggling.
In a related case that was unsealed today, Guerrero’s nephew Jose P. Cantu pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas on July 24, 2012, to conspiracy to commit bribery and alien smuggling, and a separate charge of conspiracy to import marijuana and cocaine.
According to the indictment, between approximately October 2009 and approximately January 2011, Guerrero worked the midnight shift as a CBP Office of Field Operations officer at the Pharr and Anzalduas Ports of Entry near McAllen, Texas. As part of his official duties, Guerrero was responsible for, among other things, handling vehicle inspections of northbound traffic traveling from Mexico to the United States.
According to the indictment, between approximately October 2009 and approximately January 2011, Guerrero, his girlfriend Flores and their associates – including Rivera and Guerrero’s nephew Cantu – perpetrated a bribery and alien smuggling operation along the U.S./Mexico border. As part of the unlawful operation, Guerrero, Flores, Cantu and Rivera allegedly agreed to smuggle undocumented aliens (UDAs) from Mexico to the United States, in exchange for bribe payments to Guerrero and Flores. Guerrero and Flores allegedly charged between approximately $1,000 and $3,000 per UDA. According to the indictment, Flores, Cantu, Rivera and others recruited and solicited UDAs in Mexico who were willing to pay to be unlawfully smuggled from Mexico into the United States. To accomplish the unlawful smuggling events, Guerrero and Flores allegedly arranged for drivers, including Cantu, to pick up UDAs in Mexico. Guerrero allegedly facilitated the unlawful operation by permitting the UDAs to pass illegally through his inspection lane, in exchange for the bribe money. In order to conceal their unlawful activities, Guerrero and Flores allegedly arranged for the majority of the illegal crossings to take place at approximately midnight – shortly before the closing of the Pharr Port of Entry.
An indictment is merely a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. A trial date for Guerrero, Rivera and Flores has not been set. Cantu’s sentencing date has not been set.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward J. Loya Jr. and J.P. Cooney of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by agents from the FBI’s South Texas Border Corruption Task Force, which includes agents from the FBI, DHS ICE Office of Professional Responsibility, CBP Office of Internal Affairs, DHS Office of Inspector General, DHS CBP U.S. Border Patrol and the Texas Rangers Division.