Two United States Border Patrol agents, brothers Raul and Fidel Villarreal, convicted of running an illegal alien, human smuggling ring. The two are reported to have profited over 2 million dollars.
Taking advantage of the system and their power, the Villarreal brothers, helped hundreds of illegal immigrants cross the United States border from Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol agents heard their verdicts after a five-week trial that was concluded by a one-day deliberation by the jury.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Salel told jurors, “They made the border work for them.”
The Villarreals, Raul and Fidel, used Border Patrol agency vehicles to illegally shuttle Mexicans and Brazilians to the US. The conviction included conspiracy, profiting from human trafficking, receiving bribes, and money laundering.
United States prosecutors say that Raul Villarreal started the human smuggling ring and recruited his brother, Fidel Villarreal, a fellow U.S. Border patrol agent, to join him.
The Villarreal Border Patrol agents accepted thousands of dollars to bring illegal immigrant across the border. A Brazilian girl, 24-year-old, told prosecutors she paid $12,000 to cross the border illegally in what she called a “police car.”
Nearly a dozen immigrants who had been smuggled in by the ring testified at the Villarreal brothers’ trial. Investigators used video cameras on cars, installed GPS trackers and used surveillance from airplanes to gather information about the ring’s operation and to catch the Border Patrol agents in action.
Accomplices and migrants who were caught entering the country illegally were also a source of information for the U.S. attorney prosecution.
In 2006, the two brothers caught word of the investigation and fled to the border city of Tijuana, Mexico. Two years later, they were caught and extradited to the U.S. to face federal human trafficking charges.
The Villarreal brothers face a maximum of 50 years in prison and a minimum $1.25 million in penalties.
Between 6 and 7 million illegal immigrants in the US evaded immigration inspectors by entering the country illegally, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Each year, about half a million more make it across the border.
The Border Patrol agency is a mobile uniformed law enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security, established to prevent illegal immigration.
Joe Jeronimo, a special agent in charge of the professional responsibility office at the DHS, said the Villarreal brothers’ actions are “atypical” of U.S. Border Patrol officials, but the case sends “a message about the serious consequences facing those who would exploit their positions and violate the laws.”
The widely publicized case of human smuggling serves as an embarrassment for an agency whose mission it is to prevent the very crime that it’s agents/ officers partook in.
The Department of Homeland Security has a vital mission: to secure the nation from the many threats faced through out the world. This requires the dedication of more than 240,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspectors. The duties are wide-ranging, but the goal is clear. Keeping America safe.