US: Two Border Patrol to be Sentenced for Smuggling
Two brothers who served as Border Patrol agents at the US-Mexico border were scheduled to be sentenced Friday for smuggling hundreds of immigrants into the United States, The Washington Post reports.
Raul and Fidel Villarreal, face a maximum 50-year sentence and an estimated $1.25 million in penalties.
The ring smuggled in Mexicans and Brazilians and also took bribes from public officials. Raul Villarreal, believed to be the ringleader, had previously played the role of a smuggler in a public service announcement for the agency. He then recruited his brother into the ring.
In 2005, an informant tipped off the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency who investigated the brothers via tracking and recording devices in the Border Patrol vehicles. The smuggling operations were also monitored by airplanes.
The brothers abruptly quit their job, emptied bank accounts, transferred assets to family members and fled to Mexico where they were arrested and charged with human smuggling, witness tampering, and bribery, according to the Post. Defense attorneys argued that the case lacked evidence because witnesses were not credible.
Raul also had unexplained cash deposits made into his bank account, and allegedly had offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands and Argentina.
The case has been embarrassing to the Border Patrol which has had other embarrassing smuggling cases since doubling in size over the last decade.