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Professional Responsibility
05/29/2019

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3 South Texas former detention contract employees indicted for bribery

All 3 former employees were arrested at their residences
3 South Texas former detention contract employees indicted for bribery

BROWNSVILLE — A South Texas federal grand jury on Wednesday returned an indictment against three former detention center contract employees for selling alien detainee roster lists in exchange for cash.

This indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney John F. Bash, Western District of Texas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Professional and Responsibility (OPR), in close coordination with ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The five-count indictment was returned under seal May 28. Federal law enforcement took into custody Benito Barrientez, 42, from Lyford; Damian Ortiz, 30, from Weslaco; and Exy Adelaida Gomez, 42, from Los Fresnos, Texas.

Barrientez and Ortiz were employed at the Willacy County Regional Detention Center as a classification clerk and a senior program director, respectively. Gomez was a corrections officer at the El Valle Detention Center. Both facilities are in Raymondville, Texas.  All three individuals are facing charges related to conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery.

The indictment alleges Barrientez, Ortiz and Gomez obtained alien detainee roster lists from the EL Valle Detention Center and the Port Isabel Service Processing Center while employed in their respective capacities.

The roster lists contained the names, dates of birth, country of origin and other information of alien detainees at the detention facilities, according to the charges. The three individuals allegedly provided the lists to a local attorney in exchange for money. The indictment alleges the attorney then used that information to attempt to solicit these detainees to hire his firm for legal support against immigration removal proceedings.

If convicted, each defendant faces up to 15 years in federal prison for the bribery charge, and up to five years for conspiracy. Each charge also carries a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce, Western District of Texas, prosecuted this case.  

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/05/2019