Ex-CBP officer, associates plead guilty to human smuggling
A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, his girlfriend and two of their associates pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court for their participation in multi-year bribery and human smuggling activities along the U.S./Mexico border, the U.S. Justice Department announced.
Former CBP officer Juan Carlos Guerrero, 39, of Mission, Texas, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen in the Southern District of Texas to one count of substantive bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of alien smuggling conspiracy. His girlfriend Claudia Flores, 34; Maribel Rivera, 43, both of Mission; and Rodolfo Caballero Rojas, 40, of Oklahoma City, each pleaded guilty to separate informations charging each of them with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and alien smuggling.
The defendants were indicted on Oct. 5, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Brownsville.
According to court documents, between October 2008 and January 2011, Guerrero worked the midnight shift at the Customs entry ports of Hidalgo, Pharr and Anzalduas, where he was responsible for vehicle inspections of northbound traffic traveling from Mexico to the United States. From January 2009 to May 2011, Guerrero and Flores organized a human smuggling operation, in exchange for bribe payments ranging from $500 to $3,000 per person. Guerrero admitted that he organized and directed 80 to 150 different smuggling events.
As part of his plea agreement, Guerrero resigned today from CBP.
On July 24, Guerrero’s nephew Jose Cantu pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas, to conspiracy to commit bribery and alien smuggling and a separate charge of conspiracy to import marijuana and cocaine.
The bribery charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 or twice the gain or loss. The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine or twice the gain or loss. The charge of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for private financial gain carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss.
Sentencing for Guerrero, Flores, Rivera, Rojas and Cantu is scheduled for March 18, the Justice Department said.