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Press Release

Immigration Attorney Arrested for Bribery

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

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Federal authorities have arrested a Weslaco attorney following the return of an indictment alleging conspiracy and bribery involving immigration detention employees, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.   

Today, law enforcement took Roel Alaniz, 39, of Weslaco, into custody. He is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ignacio Torteya III tomorrow at 10:00.

The seven-count indictment, returned yesterday, alleges he obtained “alien detainee roster lists” from immigration detention employees who received cash payments in return.

In May 2019, a federal grand jury also indicted Benito Barrientez, 42, of Lyford, Damian Ortiz, 30, of Weslaco, and Exy Adelaida Gomez, 42, of Los Fresnos. Barrientez and Ortiz were employed at the Willacy County Regional Detention Center, while Gomez was employed at the El Valle Detention Center. Both facilities are located in Raymondville.

Barrientes, Ortiz and Gomez allegedly obtained these lists from the El Valle Detention Center and the Port Isabel Detention Center while employed in their capacities as classification clerk, senior program director and corrections officer, respectively. 

These three are charged with providing the lists which contained names, dates of birth, country of origin and “A-numbers” of alien detainees to Alanis. The indictment alleges Alanis, an attorney with a practice in in the Rio Grande Valley, paid money in return. He would then visit, or instruct others to visit, illegal aliens for the purpose of hiring his law firm as their attorney in immigration proceedings, according to the charges.

If convicted, Alanis faces up to 15 years for bribery and a maximum of five years for the conspiracy. The charges also carry a possible penalty of $250,ooo.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – Office of Professional Responsibility conducted the investigation along with Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce is prosecuting the case.

A indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Updated July 24, 2019