Filed Under:  Border Patrol, CBP

Feds: Man tries to bribe CBP officer in Progreso

June 19th 2012   ·   0 Comments

PROGRESO — Federal agents arrested a man accused of attempting to bribe a Customs officer so he would allow his family to illegally enter the United States.

After Jose Luis Huerta Aguilar, 30, allegedly handed over $6,495 to a Customs and Border Protection officer Saturday evening, agents took him into custody and he admitted to the bribe, according to a criminal complaint filed with a U.S. Magistrate on Monday in McAllen.

Supervisory CBP Officer Efrain De Los Santos told an Office of Inspector General agent that he had received an unknown call on his government-issued push-to-talk Blackberry radio on Thursday, the complaint states.

The unknown man calling said he knew De Los Santos worked at the bridge and asked for help crossing a family into the U.S. in exchange for a $1,000 bribe per person. He asked if he could assist the family “as a favor and further acknowledged that favors aren’t free,” the complaint states.

De Los Santos alerted the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, which monitored the officer’s calls on his push-to-talk radio, recording that a family was willing to pay for a man, his 25-year-old wife and their 1-year-old child to be smuggled through the bridge. The unknown man, later identified as Huerta, agreed to pay De Los Santos $1,500 per person in exchange for the safe passage.

De Los Santos received another call on Friday, where Huerta said he was trying to sell various vehicles to raise the bribe money.

On Saturday, De Los Santos spoke with Huerta, who said he had only raised $1,000 — short of original bribe they’d agreed upon. Huerta asked to pay the bribe in front of the UETA duty free shop at the Progreso International Bridge, but De Los Santos refused, saying there were too many cameras, the complaint states.

Huerta, his wife and child met De Los Santos at the bridge about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, where they were taken into a processing room at the bridge.

Huerta took some money from his wife’s purse and handed it to De Los Santos, who asked if he knew they were bribing him, the complaint states. Huerta said yes.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents then arrested Huerta, who admitted he tried to bribe De Los Santos, the complaint states. Huerta, of Rio Bravo, Tamps., said he knew it was illegal to bribe a CBP officer, but he was “afraid of crossing the Rio Grande” and lacked immigration papers to legally enter the United States.

Huerta made an initial appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos, who ordered him to remain in custody before a detention hearing set for Thursday.

A version of this column originally appeared in

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