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Ciudad Juarez man sentenced to 8 years for bribery/drug smuggling

Saulo Reyes Gamboa pleaded guilty to bribing an undercover agent posing as bridge inspector

EL PASO, Texas - A federal judge here sentenced a man from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Monday to more than eight years in prison on a drug/bribery conspiracy charge. The case was investigated by local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents.

In addition to the 97-month prison sentence, Saulo Reyes Gamboa, 37, was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine, and required to serve 20 years under supervised release after he completes his prison term. U.S. District Judge Philip R. Martinez also approved the forfeiture of illegal proceeds derived from the Reyes Gamboa's criminal actions which included $19,250 in U.S. currency, and a 2005 Volkswagen Tourareg.

ICE special agents arrested Reyes Gamboa in January after he paid a bribe to a person he believed to be a corrupt federal officer to facilitate smuggling drug loads through the international ports of entry.

Reyes pleaded guilty June 13 to conspiracy to import 100 kilograms (220 pounds) or more of marijuana. By pleading guilty, Reyes admitted that he paid $4,250 on Jan. 15, 2008, plus another $15,000 on Jan.16, to an undercover ICE special agent, who he believed was a bridge inspector, to allow a vehicle loaded with more than 400 kilograms of marijuana through the Paso del Norte Port of Entry without being properly inspected.

"Bribing a federal official and importing illegal drugs into the United States are serious crimes," said Julio M. Velez, acting special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in El Paso. "Our ICE agents aggressively pursue all leads and allegations to bring to justice drug organizations and drug smugglers that operate in our area."

Reyes' co-defendant, Karina Tarango, 27, of El Paso, is now serving a 30-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. ICE special agents arrested Tarango in January at a stash house in the 12100 block of Sunbridge Place in Horizon City, Texas, that was used in the smuggling scheme.