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Contraband
01/17/2008

ICE arrests former Juarez, Mexico, public safety director on drug, bribery charges

Mexican entrepreneur had made arrangements to continue smuggling drugs to El Paso

ICE arrests former Juarez, Mexico, public safety director on drug, bribery charges
ICE arrests former Juarez, Mexico, public safety director on drug, bribery charges

EL PASO, Texas - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents Wednesday arrested the former Ciudad Juarez public safety director on drug and bribery charges here.

Saulo Reyes-Gamboa, 36, was arrested about 8 p.m. in a parking lot in Central El Paso after he allegedly paid a person who he believed to be a corrupt federal officer to facilitate the smuggling of drug loads through the international ports of entry.

Reyes-Gamboa was appointed by the past city mayor in January 2007 to supervise operations for the municipal police department. Reyes-Gamboa is an entrepreneur who owns several businesses in Ciudad Juarez, including some U.S. restaurant chain stores and a radio station.

After taking Reyes-Gamboa into custody, special agents conducted a search of a house located in the 12100 block of Sunbridge Place in Horizon City, Texas, where agents discovered 985 lbs. of marijuana in the garage. At that location, special agents also arrested Karina Tarango, 27, who was storing marijuana that Reyes-Gamboa had allegedly arranged to be smuggled into the country earlier in the day.

Reyes-Gamboa and Tarango are charged with possession with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute. Reyes-Gamboa is also charged with bribery of a public official..

"It is most troubling and disheartening to discover that individuals who are charged with enforcing the law and protecting the public may themselves be involved in criminal activity," said Roberto Medina, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in El Paso. "Importing illegal drugs into the United States is a serious crime. ICE is committed to enforcing the law without prejudice or preference, which includes pursuing individuals and drug organizations that operate in our area of responsibility."