An arrest by the FBI Border Corruption Task Force has led to a married couple pleading guilty to smuggling illegal immigrants. The wife admitted to bribing a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official with cash and sex to facilitate the trafficking. The CBP officer has also been arrested.
The Task Force used surveillance, GPS tracking systems, border crossing records, recorded conversations, and the use of informants during the investigation, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The couple were smuggling the illegal aliens into the City of San Diego and were reportedly using Customs Officer Jose Luis Cota’s lane to get them through the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The human traffickers would use fraudulent passports for the passengers that were carried in their vehicle. The pair charged as much as $15,000 per person.
San Ysidro is a community that is part of San Diego and is just north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gilberto Aguilar Martinez, 31, and Miriam Juarez Herrera, 35, were arrested in September after their vehicle was involved in a traffic stop. Neither one of them have the legal right to be in the U.S.
The pair were arrested after a long investigation by the FBI Border Corruption Task Force, the local publication reported. Officials went to Cota’s place of work the same day and arrested him.
Juarez Herrera drove the passengers through the port of entry and Aguilar Martinez transported the illegal immigrants to various places in the United States. The Union-Tribune reported that search warrants provided that an illegal immigrant told officials the couple marketed their human trafficking services as a “guaranteed method.”
The customs officer’s bank records revealed that he allegedly deposited thousands of dollars into different accounts soon after individuals were trafficked. Cell phone records also reportedly showed that he had hundreds of calls with Juarez Herrera. Surveillance by law enforcement officials reportedly showed that the officer met the woman at hotel rooms, according to the Tribune.
The pair are scheduled to be sentenced on April 7.
Customs Officer Cota has pleaded not guilty.