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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
02/19/2008

Former CBP officer convicted of bribery in alien smuggling operation

MIAMI - A former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) patrol officer assigned to Miami International Airport was convicted here today by a jury in federal district court.

Ronald Howard Merker was convicted of one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy to bring aliens into the United States for financial gain, and five counts of alien smuggling. Merker is scheduled to be sentenced in May 2008. He faces maximum penalties of fifteen years on the bribery charge, five years on the conspiracy charge and three to ten years for each count of alien smuggling.

The announcement was made today by Alexander Acosta, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Donald Balberchak, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General; Mike Foster, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service; Steven Mocsary, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Professional Responsibility; Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, ICE, Office of Investigation, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

U.S. Attorney Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, the United State Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service, ICE Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys William White, Benjamin Daniel, and Eloisa Fernandez.