Former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer and Four Associates Sentenced for Carrying out Bribery and Alien Smuggling Activities Along Mexican Border
A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, his girlfriend, his nephew and two of their associates were sentenced today in federal court for their participation in bribery and alien smuggling activities along the U.S./Mexico border spanning approximately two years, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Former CBP Officer Juan Carlos Guerrero, 39, of Mission, Texas, was sentenced to 108 months in prison and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine by U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen in the Southern District of Texas after pleading guilty last year to one count of substantive bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of alien smuggling conspiracy. Guerrero’s girlfriend, Claudia Flores, 34, of Mission, was sentenced to 60 months in prison and also ordered to pay a $30,000 fine; Maribel Rivera, 43, also of Mission, was sentenced to 30 months in prison; and Rodolfo Caballero Rojas, 40, of Oklahoma City, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay a $6,000 fine. Each pleaded guilty last year to separate informations charging each of them with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and alien smuggling. Guerrero’s nephew, Jose P. Cantu, 20, of Mission, was sentenced to 52 months in prison after having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and alien smuggling and a separate charge of conspiracy to import marijuana and cocaine.
According to court documents, between approximately October 2008 and approximately May 2011, Guerrero worked the midnight shift at the Hidalgo, Pharr and Anzaldvas Ports of Entry, where he was responsible for, among other things, vehicle inspections of northbound traffic traveling from Mexico to the United States.
According to court documents, between approximately January 2009 and approximately May 2011, Guerrero and Flores organized a bribery and alien smuggling operation, whereby Guerrero, Flores, Rivera, Rojas, Cantu and other co-conspirators arranged for aliens from Mexico to be smuggled into the United States through Guerrero’s inspection lanes in exchange for bribe payments ranging from $500 to $3,000 per alien. Guerrero admitted that he organized and directed a total of approximately 80 to 150 different smuggling events and that he knowingly permitted approximately 80 to 165 aliens to gain illegal entry into the United States.
According to court documents, Flores admitted that she helped Guerrero organize and direct a total of approximately 50 to 75 of the illegal crossings, in which approximately 50 to 100 aliens from Mexico gained illegal entry into the United States. Rivera admitted that she assisted Guerrero and Flores by identifying and soliciting aliens, communicating smuggling prices and details of the illegal crossings to the aliens and collecting bribe payments from the aliens on the behalf of Guerrero and Flores. Rojas admitted, among other things, that he assisted Guerrero by personally driving aliens through Guerrero’s inspection lane at the Anzalduas Point of Entry and that he paid Guerrero a bribe of approximately $1,500 as payment for Guerrero’s decision to permit an alien to pass illegally through his inspection lane.
Court documents further indicate that Cantu admitted to helping Guerrero separately organize and carry out approximately 40 illegal crossings, in which approximately 45 to 60 aliens from Mexico gained illegal entry into the United States. Additionally, Cantu independently smuggled 168.8 kilograms of marijuana and 3.9 kilograms of cocaine through Guerrero’s inspection lane in exchange for approximately $5,000 from another associate.
Guerrero, who was placed on administrative leave upon his arrest in October of last year, formally resigned his CBP post on Dec. 13, 2012, as part of his plea agreement.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward J. Loya Jr. and J.P. Cooney of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case was investigated by agents from the FBI’s South Texas Border Corruption Task Force, which includes agents from the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility, CBP Office of Internal Affairs, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, CBP U.S. Border Patrol and the Texas Rangers Division.