FEDERAL JURY CONVICTS CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION OFFICER FOR TRANSPORTING AND HARBORING ILLEGAL ALIENS
MERLIN J. MIRELES, age 39, a resident of Weslaco, Texas and former resident of Metairie, Louisiana, was found guilty yesterday by a federal jury after a two-day trial of two federal felonies involving transporting and harboring illegal aliens, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
Among other things, the jury heard testimony that MIRELES, a Customs and Border Protection Officer, became romantically involved with a Mexican woman who entered this country illegally. In the summer of 2004, MIRELES transported the woman and her two children in his pick-up truck from Texas to Metairie, where the woman and her children lived at properties which were owned by the defendant and his mother. The woman testified that she did domestic work for the defendant’s mother, who also found her a part-time job with a Metairie plumbing company and helped the woman enroll her children in Jefferson Parish Public Schools.
MIRELES faces a possible maximum sentence of five (5) years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and three (3) years supervised release as to each count. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 1, 2010.
The case was investigated by the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Office of Professional Responsibility in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael E. McMahon and Robert Weir.
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