A Customs and Border Protection Office was arrested this week for being part of a group that sold border crossing from Tijuana into San Diego for just $10,000 USD per person.
Officer Hector Rodriguez, Gerardo Rodriguez and Vanessa Moya, are the three people arrested as a result of a federal investigation. They are charged with conspiracy and smuggling and are being held without bond.
Hector Rodriguez, 45, was arrested while on duty Friday. A complaint detailing the charges said that since September 2010 through last week the trio made at least 37 crossings into the U.S. in vehicles loaded with undocumented immigrants.
One person who was smuggled and became a confidential informant said the fee for a “guaranteed crossing” was $10,000. Another informant smuggled at a later time paid $15,000. Neither was identified in the court records.
FBI Special Agent Terry Reed Jr. wrote in the complaint that the term “guaranteed crossing,” when used by smuggling organizations, indicates that a federal Customs and Border Protection employee is involved.
The same term was used in a smuggling organization that federal authorities allege was headed by former Border Patrol agents and brothers Raul and Fidel Villarreal in 2005 and 2006.
Coincidentally, as Rodriguez was appearing in court on the first floor of the federal courthouse, the trial of the Villarreal brothers was ongoing just one floor above, with testimony from undocumented immigrants who had paid $12,000 for a “guaranteed crossing” into the U.S.
In Rodriguez’s case, authorities said he would tell Gerardo Rodriguez, 42, and Moya, 29, what lane he was scheduled to work in.
Then when vehicles driven by the pair would come through the lane, Hector Rodriguez would enter bogus information about the vehicles — including false names and birth dates for the driver — into the agency’s computers.
In one instance, in October, he entered the name “Barbara Walters” into the database when Moya crossed just after 7:30 p.m.
After crossing, Gerardo Rodriguez would drive the immigrants to a hotel, collect cash and release them.
On Friday, just after 1:30 a.m., agents arrested Moya and Gerardo Rodriguez, along with 14 undocumented immigrants they had smuggled, at the parking lot in an apartment complex where Hector Rodriguez lived. Prosecutor White said Gerardo Rodriguez had paid rent on the apartment with proceeds from the smuggling.
He also said that the border officer received gifts from Gerardo Rodriguez, including use of a 2008 Hummer and 2009 Jaguar. A search of Gerardo Rodriguez’s Chula Vista apartment yielded other luxury items such as Rolex watches, computers, and flat screen televisions.
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