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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Customs and Border Protection Officer Admits Using Unreasonable Force at Port of Entry

Assistant U. S. Attorney Christopher P. Tenorio (619) 546-8413

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 19, 2020

SAN DIEGO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Esaul Bello pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that he used unreasonable force on an individual who had applied for admission to the U.S. at the Calexico, California Port of Entry.

According to his plea agreement, Bello was on duty at a Primary Vehicle Lane booth at the Calexico Port of Entry on November 26, 2018, when he encountered the individual in question. During the course of the inspection, Bello placed two hands around the neck of the individual, who was not offering any physical resistance. Bello then shook the individual, in violation of the individual’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure and the unreasonable use of force. As a condition of his plea, Bello agreed to voluntarily resign his employment with the U.S. government and terminate his security clearance.

“This is a rare and troubling situation,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “We will always move swiftly to protect the public from officers who use their power to violate another person's Constitutional rights.”

“The DHS OIG takes any and all allegations of abuse of authority seriously and intends to hold accountable those who try to use their official position to take advantage of others,” said Angie Cuevas-Mason, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, El Centro, California. “The DHS OIG will continue to use its investigative resources to stop those who use their official authority to violate the rights of others.”

Bello is scheduled to be sentenced on June 2, 2020 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Christopher P. Tenorio and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney DW Tunnage.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 20cr0015-KSC                                 

Esaul Bello                                                      Age: 53                                   San Diego, CA


Deprivation of Rights under Color of Law – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242 (misdemeanor)

Maximum penalty: One year of imprisonment and $100,000 fine


Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General

*This case is the result of the ongoing efforts of the Violent Crime and Human Trafficking (VCHT) Section. Formed in 2019, by U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer, the VCHT is tasked with leading collaborations between federal and local law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of cases involving violent crimes, firearms and gang cases; sex trafficking and child exploitation; civil rights, and labor trafficking. The VCHT Section oversees the Southern District of California Coordinators for Project Safe Neighborhoods, Human Trafficking, and Project Safe Childhood. The VCHT Section also provides federal prosecutors to the downtown San Diego Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group, the North County Gang Task Force, and the East County Gang Task Force.



Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
Updated February 19, 2020