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Jan. 30, 2009

UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL AGENT PLEADS GUILTY TO BRIBERY

(MCALLEN, Texas) – United States Border Patrol agent Salomon Ruiz, 34, of McAllen, has pleaded guilty to accusations of accepting bribes in exchange for escorting narcotics loads, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

Ruiz pleaded guilty to count one of the four-count indictment charging that from on or about October 2006 and continuing until on or about Sept. 11, 2008, Ruiz did directly and indirectly corruptly demand, receive and accept $14,000 for escorting a narcotics load. Employed as a public official, Ruiz was in violation of the lawful official duty of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §201.

“Border Patrol agents are entrusted with tremendous authority and the enormous responsibility of securing our nation’s borders, making it a world-class law enforcement agency,” said Ronald D. Vitiello, Chief Patrol Agent, Rio Grande Valley Sector. “Border Patrol agents who violate the trust of the citizens they swore to protect will be held accountable.”

The facts read at the re-arraignment included that during the period of the indictment, Ruiz accepted $14,000 in bribes in exchange for escorting 25 kilograms of cocaine. Ruiz also aided and abetted his cousin, former Border Patrol agent Leonel Morales who escorted a 20-kilogram load of cocaine in exchange for $9,000 in bribes.

A federal conviction for bribery carries a penalty of imprisonment of not more than 15 years and/or a fine not more than three times the monetary equivalent of the bribe. The sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, 2009, at 2:00 p.m. before Judge Randy Crane in McAllen. The defendant remains incarcerated pending sentencing.

In a companion case, Morales pleaded guilty to bribery, in Laredo, Texas, on Jan. 6, 2009. His sentencing is scheduled for March 18, 2009, at 2:00 p.m.

This allegation was investigated by agents with the Laredo and McAllen Offices of the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, U.S.  Border Patrol and the DEA. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Wright of the Public Corruption Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

 

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