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Press Release

Former attorney sentenced for detainee list bribery scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

LAREDO, Texas - A 32-year-old McAllen attorney has been ordered to federal prison following his convictions of conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery of a public official, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Roel Alaniz pleaded guilty April 27, 2021.

Today, U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez ordered Alanis to serve a total of 30 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court noted how the serious violation of his conduct and the series of continuing bribes in return for the alien rosters he received merited some incarceration time.   

At the time of his plea, Alaniz admitted he paid immigration detention employees for alien detainee roster lists. Benito Barrientez, 43, Lyford, and Damian Ortiz, 31, Weslaco, were two employees of the Willacy County Regional Detention Center who sold the lists to Roel Alaniz or his sister - Cynthia Alanis, 28, Los Fresnos - who was also an attorney in the Rio Grande Valley.

The detainee lists were from the El Valle Detention Center-Raymondville and the Port Isabel Detention Center-Los Fresnos. They contained names, dates of birth, country of origin and A-numbers of alien detainees. The attorneys would then visit them, or instruct others to do so, in order to solicit them to hire his law firm for representation in immigration proceedings.

Barrientos, Ortiz and Exy Adelaida Gomez, 45, Los Fresnos, were also convicted and are pending sentencing. Each faces up to 15 years in federal prison and possible $250,000 maximum fine. Cynthia Alanis was previously sentenced.

Roel Alaniz was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender in the near future.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement–Office of Professional Responsibility conducted the investigation with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce prosecuted the case.


Updated March 22, 2022