Former CBP Officer Ordered to Prison
McALLEN, Texas – A former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer has been ordered to federal prison for accepting a bribe in exchange for issuing an I-94 permit, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Jose Javier “J.J.” Gonzalez, 38, of Mission, pleaded guilty Feb. 28, 2018.
Today, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane ordered Gonzalez to serve 30 months in federal prison, noting he had accepted a $500 bribe in exchange for issuing an I-94 permit to an individual in Pharr in 2014. The sentence will be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, Gonzalez claimed that he had served as a dedicated CBP officer for more than 10 years and had only made one mistake. The court noted, however, that another individual had made similar allegations against Gonzalez.
“The defendant not only betrayed the citizens he was sworn to protect, he also betrayed the thousands of honest, hard-working CBP and other law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs. “The FBI is committed to working with our partners to pursue corruption wherever it lies. Together, we will ensure those who tarnish the badge are held accountable.”
An I-94 permit is a travel permit that allows an individual to travel further into the interior of the United States.
The court heard that from July 2015 through November 2016, Gonzalez exceeded his law enforcement access to conduct improper queries on the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS) that CBP officers use at the ports of entry. Gonzalez ran queries of a Spanish music artist, a music promoter and another individual. Despite seeing negative law enforcement information for their association to money laundering and drug trafficking, he continued to associate and communicate with them.
In addition, Gonzalez ran queries on another individual within days of his arrest at a San Diego port of entry for a drug trafficking offense and another individual who was subsequently arrested for conspiring to traffic fentanyl. Gonzalez did not have a legitimate law enforcement purpose to query either person.
Upon his arrest, authorities conducted a search warrant at his residence, at which time they found bottles of steroids and hard drives of pirated music.
Judge Crane permitted Gonzalez to remain on bond and surrender in February 2019.
The FBI conducted the investigation along with CBP - Office of Professional Responsibility. Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberto Lopez Jr. is prosecuting the case.