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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Man sentenced to 21 months in prison for impersonating a Border Patrol agent

            ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – James Christopher Benvie, 45, was sentenced to 21 months in prison in Las Cruces on Oct. 15 on two counts of false personification of a Border Patrol agent.

            A federal jury previously returned a guilty verdict towards Benvie on March 3. According to public court records and evidence at trial, Benvie was a leader and spokesperson for a group of vigilantes who established a “camp” at the Southwest border in Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Many members of the group wore badges, camouflage and other military-style clothing, often covered their faces with masks, and carried pistols and assault rifles. Benvie misrepresented himself as a Border Patrol Agent when stopping immigrants he suspected of crossing into the United States illegally.             

            The evidence at trial showed Benvie and other group members stopped six women and children from El Salvador on April 15, 2019, without any legitimate law enforcement authority.  Benvie misrepresented himself as a Border Patrol agent and interrogated the immigrants before turning them over to actual Border Patrol agents. On April 17, 2019, Benvie stopped four adults and three children shortly after they crossed the border. Benvie ordered these immigrants to “stop” while misrepresenting himself as “Border Patrol.”  Benvie later directed these immigrants to move toward the truck of another member of the group for further interrogation before eventually turning them over to Border Patrol.  

            Upon his release from Prison, Benvie will be subject to one year of supervised release.

            The FBI and U.S. Border Patrol investigated this case.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting the case.

Press Release Number: 
20-192
Updated October 20, 2020