April 28, 2009
UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL AGENT SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR BRIBERY
(MCALLEN, Texas) – A United States Border Patrol (BP) agent has been sentenced to prison for accepting bribes in exchange for escorting narcotics loads, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
Salomon Ruiz, 34, of McAllen, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Court Judge Randy Crane to 14 years in federal prison to be followed by a three-year-term of supervised release and fined $11,000. Ruiz pleaded guilty to the federal bribery charge in January 2009.
For a period of eleven months beginning in October 2006, while employed as a BP agent, Ruiz was indicted for bribery -- corruptly demanding, receiving and accepting United States currency to influence the performance of his official duties -- and for conspiring with and aiding and abetting others to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. At his re-arraignment hearing earlier this year, Ruiz admitted he accepted $14,000 in bribes in exchange for escorting 25 kilograms of cocaine. Ruiz actually manipulated a BP sensor in an effort to keep other law enforcement agents away from the area of the cocaine load. Ruiz also aided and abetted his cousin, BP agent Leonel Morales. Morales escorted a 20-kilogram load of cocaine in exchange for $9,000 in bribes.
Morales was also convicted of accepting bribes after pleading guilty before United States District Judge Michaela Alvarez in Laredo, Texas. Morales was recently sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, fined $11,000 and ordered to serve a three-year-term of supervised release upon completion of his prison sentence – the same sentence imposed today on his cousin.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by agents of the Laredo and McAllen Offices of the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility. Both this case and the Morales case were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Wright of the Public Corruption Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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