EL PASO, Texas - Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations and other federal agencies on Tuesday arrested a U.S. Border Patrol agent on charges of alien smuggling and money laundering.
Federal officers also arrested two suspected members of the alien smuggling organization.
Agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General, FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol assisted with the investigation.
Jesus Miguel Huizar, 28, was arrested May 13 at the Las Cruces, N.M., Border Patrol Station, shortly after he reported for work. Huizar, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico, is a five-year veteran of the Border Patrol. He allegedly facilitated transporting illegal aliens through Border Patrol checkpoints in New Mexico. According to the ICE investigation, Huizar charged $500 for each alien he allowed to pass through his checkpoint. The criminal network's smuggling fee ranged between $1,800 and $2,500 per alien.
"ICE is relentless in identifying and arresting the few corrupt federal officers who stray from their charge of enforcing the rule of law and protecting the homeland," said Roberto G. Medina, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in El Paso. "We will work diligently with our federal law enforcement partners to maintain the trust of the American public." Medina oversees west Texas and the State of New Mexico.
Huizar, Emeterio Sigala-Favela, 37, and Luis Carlos Chacon-Rubio, 32, are named in a two-count indictment. Huizar is charged with conspiracy to smuggle aliens and money laundering conspiracy. His alleged associates are charged with conspiracy and alien smuggling.
According to court documents, the criminal enterprise allegedly smuggled more than a hundred illegal aliens into the country and transported them to various U.S. cities since November 2007. The network is suspected of operating since at least 2005.
Sigala Favela, the manager and organizer of the organization, coordinated with Chacon-Rubio to drive the illegal aliens from El Paso drop houses to their final destinations, such as Albuquerque, N.M.; Dallas, Texas; and cities in Colorado and Oklahoma. Both are Mexican citizens who are border crossing card holders based in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico.
Smugglers, or coyotes, who worked with the organization, illegally guided the aliens from Mexico and across the U.S. border into areas in East El Paso County and near Santa Teresa, N.M. The smuggling network is also suspected of providing illegal aliens with fraudulent documents that allowed many of them to cross through the international ports of entry.
The smuggling organization also used area hotels and a house in the 9000 block of Geranium, which belongs to Huizar, as staging areas for illegal aliens.
As part of its criminal investigation ICE plans to seize that house, five bank accounts in El Paso, and several vehicles. Monies totaling $21,000 have already been seized from one account.
"Corruption within the Department of Homeland Security will not be tolerated," said Special Agent in Charge James E. Smith of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General. "The Office of Inspector General, working in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, and the United States Attorney's Office, will continue to dedicate all available resources to insure that corruption within our ranks is an exception to the rule and never the norm."
El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Victor M. Manjarrez Jr. said, "We operate in an environment in which even a single corrupt act can have significant ramifications to our nation's security, and it simply will not be tolerated. "Allegations against our agents are taken very seriously and the U.S. Border Patrol stands ready to fully cooperate with our partners in any investigation."