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Nov. 16, 2009

FORMER CBP OFFICER PLEADS GUILTY TO BRIBERY, COCAINE TRAFFICKING AND ALIEN SMUGGLING

(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) – A former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer has been convicted of bribery, cocaine trafficking and alien smuggling after pleaded guilty to each offense, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

CBP officer Raul Montano Jr., 34, a U.S. citizen who resided in Weslaco, pleaded guilty to all three felony offenses at a hearing before United States District Judge Andrew S. Hanen today. He admitted that while employed as a CBP officer assigned to the Brownsville Gateway Port of Entry in Brownsville, he would notify a co-conspirator when he would be working a particular lane. That information was then provided to drivers who would drive through his lane in vehicles carrying aliens, cocaine or sometimes both without inspection. Within days, Montano would be paid by one of the drivers for allowing the crossing of aliens and/or contraband into the United States. Montano admitted at the time of his arrest to engaging in this illegal activity since summer 2007. Initially, Montano received $500 per alien as vehicles carrying multiple undocumented aliens entered in tandem. Later, he allowed aliens and cocaine, receiving $8,000 to $10,000 per transaction. 

The investigation leading to Montano’s arrest began in early February 2008 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Office of Professional Responsibility (ICE-OPR) agents received information alleging Montano, in exchange for bribes, was allowing others to smuggle undocumented aliens, drugs or both by driving through his lane across the International bridge in Brownsville without inspection. ICE-OPR agents joined by agents of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security - Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) and CBP-Internal Affairs conducted a 10-month investigation which included surveillance at the bridge of Montano and recorded conversations by a cooperating individual who paid Montano $500 to allow an illegal alien entry into the United States without inspection. As a result of the joint investigative effort, Montano was arrested on April 2, 2009, while on duty. He resigned immediately thereafter.

This morning Montano told Judge Hanen he “had a problem with cocaine since he was 16 years old.”

Judge Hanen remanded Montano into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending his sentencing hearing set for Feb. 22, 2010. Montano faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years with a maximum of life imprisonment and a $4 million fine for the possession with intent to distribute cocaine conviction. The transporting of undocumented aliens conviction carries a maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment while the bribery conviction carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment. The alien and bribery offenses also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 each.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce.

 

 

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