El Cajon Woman Admits to Coordinating the Transportation of More than 75 Undocumented Immigrants and Collecting $1 Million in Payments
For Further Information, Contact: Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara A. Stingley (619)546-8403
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – January 12, 2017
SAN DIEGO – Irma Perez, a former government contractor who worked in the lunchroom at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, was sentenced in federal court today to five years in prison for bribing a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer to allow her to smuggle undocumented aliens into the U.S.
Perez pleaded guilty in August of 2016, admitting that she offered to pay approximately $4,000 per alien if Perez could use the officer’s lane to smuggle people into the United States. After the initial meeting, the officer immediately reported Perez’s bribery attempt to CBP-Office of Professional Responsibility. The officer continued to work with law enforcement, which led to Perez’s arrest during a smuggling event on May 16, 2016.
“This officer showed strength of character and bravery in coming forward to immediately report this crime,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson. “The officer put our nation’s security first, and as a result a smuggler who boldly attempted to corrupt a public official will be locked up for years.”
Perez’s arrest on May 16, 2016 stemmed from an investigation conducted by the Border Corruption Task Force (BCTF), which is composed of agents and officers working at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Protection – Office of Professional Responsibility, Customs and Border Protection – Office of Field Operations, and U.S. Border Patrol.
During Perez’s change of plea hearing, she admitted that she knowingly bribed a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer to allow her to smuggle aliens through that officer’s lane without inspection on February 22 and May 16 of 2016. These smuggling events involved one Chinese national (on February 22, 2016) and three Brazilian nationals (on May 16, 2016). Perez later brought one of her children with her to meet with the CBP officer to pay the $4,000 bribery payment for the February 22, 2016 smuggling event. She also admitted that she used her children’s U.S. passports for the undocumented aliens.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino ordered Perez to pay a $15,400 special assessment and forfeiture of $4,000 for the bribery payment Perez paid the CBP officer on February 22, 2016. Judge Sammartino ordered that Perez be taken into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing.
“The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners on the San Diego Border Corruption Task Force, will continue to leverage our resources to combat those who attempt to influence the security at our borders,” stated Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum. “Let this case be a reminder that officers on the line uphold their duties with integrity and honor and attempts to tarnish that honor will not be tolerated.”
The FBI encourages the public to report allegations of public corruption to our hotline at (877) NO-BRIBE (662-7423).
“Because this CBP officer came forward, Perez is being brought to justice for attempting to corrupt our officer and for her alien smuggling activities,” said CBP Director of Field Operations for San Diego, Pete Flores. “We count on CBP employees and officers to perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe, and this CBP officer is no exception. This officer’s work and cooperation with the investigation after being approached, is exemplary.”
DEFENDANT Criminal Case No. 16CR1189-JLS
Irma Perez, Chula Vista, CA Age: 32
SUMMARY OF CHARGES:
Count 1 – Bribery of a Public Official (18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(1)(A) and (C))
Maximum Penalties: maximum of 15 years in prison; maximum fine of $250,000; mandatory special assessment of $100; maximum term of supervised release for 3 years
Counts 12 and 13 – Bringing in Certain Aliens for Financial Gain (8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(2)(B)(ii))
Maximum Penalties: mandatory minimum of 3 years in prison; maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; maximum fine of $250,000 per count; maximum term of supervised release of 3 years per count; mandatory special assessment of $100; additional special assessment of $5,000 per count
Count 14 – Bringing in Unlawful Aliens for Financial Gain (8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(2)(B)(ii))
Maximum Penalties: mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison; maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; maximum fine of $250,000; maximum term of supervised release of 3 years; special assessment of $100; additional special assessment of $5,000
The Border Corruption Task Force (BCTF) is composed of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Protection – Office of Professional Responsibility, Customs and Border Protection – Office of Field Operations, U. S. Border Patrol.