Laredo Customs Broker Pleads Guilty
LAREDO, Texas– U.S. Customs Broker Alejandro Santos, 32, has entered a guilty plea in relation to the smuggling of goods into the country, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Santos pleaded guilty to entry of goods by false classification, smuggling goods into the United States and making a false statement to a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent late yesterday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker.
Santos is licensed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to file entry documents for commercial shipments on behalf of importers. His responsibilities included generating entry packages, describing, classifying and valuating shipments for importation into the United States and submitting appropriate payments to CBP on behalf of his clients for any duties, taxes and fees owed, if any.
Santos used a scheme to defraud the government by falsifying the country of origin on goods imported into the United States. The falsification allowed him to benefit from the North American Free Trade Agreement preferential treatment program, resulting in zero duties and taxes owed. In truth, duties and taxes should have been paid to the U.S. Santos would then collect money from his clients to cover the correct amount of duties and taxes that should have been paid to CBP. Santos then failed to turn over the money to CBP, keeping the monies for himself.
Santos admitted to importing various goods into the United States made in India and Italy, while falsely claiming the goods were made in Mexico. He would then collect money from his clients (importers of record) and keep the money.
He faces up to a maximum sentence of twenty years in federal prison as well as a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by HSI Assistant U.S. Attorney Roel Canales is prosecuting the case.