Jan. 6, 2010
ATTEMPTS TO BRIBE CBP OFFICERS RESULTS IN CONVICTION OF TWO
(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) – Two Mexican nationals residing in the United States and charged in separate and unrelated cases, have each pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
Estanislao Saucedo Juarez, 51, a resident of Brownsville, and Edgar Ovilla, 32, a resident of Augusta, Ga., each pleaded guilty today in separate hearings before United States District Court Judge Hilda G. Tagle to offering and paying a $500 bribe to a CBP officer in exchange for being permitted to export a vehicle without complying with the required 72-hour waiting period.
Federal regulations require that the title of a vehicle being exported from the United States be turned over to CBP at least 72 hours prior to export. This regulation permits CBP to conduct a search of law enforcement communications systems for stolen vehicles and provides time for registered owners to file theft reports with the police before the vehicle is exported.
This morning Juarez pleaded guilty and admitted that on Aug. 13, 2009, he arrived at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Port of Entry (POE) with a vehicle intending to export it into Mexico without having complied with the 72-hour export requirement. When advised by CBP officers he was subject to a fine for this failure, Juarez offered the officer a bribe to ignore the 72-hour export requirement. The officer escorted Juarez to an interview room and notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Office of Professional Responsibility of the bribe attempt. The officer and Juarez thereafter continued their conversation and, ultimately, Juarez offered and paid the officer a $500 bribe to permit him to walk out of the POE through a back door, to retain his (Juarez) resident alien card, to not be assessed a $500 fine per agency guidelines and to be permitted to exit the country with the vehicle without the 72-hour delay.
In a separate and unrelated case, Ovilla pleaded guilty this afternoon admitting that on Oct. 24, 2009, he attempted to exit the United States into Mexico through the Veteran’s International (Los Tomates) Bridge POE with a vehicle for export without having complied with the 72-hour export requirement. When a CBP officer informed Ovilla he was in violation of the 72-hour requirement and could not export the vehicle at that time, Ovilla offered and paid a $500 bribe to the officer to let him continue into Mexico without the 72-hour delay.
Both men were arrested by ICE-OPR agents after paying the bribes.
Attempting to bribe a public official carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000, followed by a maximum five-year-period of supervised release. Both Juarez and Ovilla are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Tagle on April 6, 2010. Juarez is in and will remain in federal custody without bond pending sentencing. Ovilla has been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing hearing.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Leonard.
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