Border Patrol Agent Sent to Prison for Human Smuggling Role

FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2017 file photo, border patrol agents use a drug sniffing dog to check vehicles at California's Pine Valley checkpoint, on the main route from Arizona to San Diego. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded an Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized marijuana …
AP File Photo/Elliot Spagat

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was sentenced to almost two years in prison for his role in helping smuggle migrants past an immigration checkpoint in Texas.

During a federal court hearing in Laredo this week, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana sentenced 36-year-old Rodney Tolson Jr. to 21 months followed by three years of supervised release. Tolson was a Border Patrol agent at the time of the conspiracy. Tolson pleaded guilty to human smuggling charges in July 2021.

The case against Tolson began in March 2019 when Frio County Sheriff’s deputies alerted the Border Patrol Cotulla Station about five men inside a Dodge Ram, all believed to be illegally in the country. The driver, Ronaldo Vidaurri Jr,. admitted to getting help from Tolson.

In November 2019, authorities arrested another human smuggler while attempting to drive a Chevrolet pickup with migrants past a Border Patrol checkpoint. That smuggler also told authorities that Tolson had been helping him in exchange for cash.

The Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General launched an investigation, where surveillance cameras revealed that the vehicles used by the smugglers had been waived through on more than five occasions. The videos showed Tolson guiding the vehicles instead of inspecting them.

Court documents also revealed that the Border Patrol agent used WhatsApp messages to notify the smugglers of available time windows and his inspection lane assignments. Tolson collected $400 for each migrant. Court records do not reveal how much money Tolson collected in total.

In February 2020, an informant met with Tolson at a local bar where agents monitored the conversation. Tolson expressed his suspicion that he was under investigation because he no longer had access to assignment schedules. In order to continue their operation, Tolson suggested they use ranches along the border since he was aware of where cameras were placed and had keys to gates.

Luisana Moreno is a contributing writer for Breitbart Texas.

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