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El Paso Customs and Border Protection Officer Indicted

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 17, 2010
  • Western District of Texas (210) 384-7100

United States Attorney John E. Murphy announced that in El Paso, 48-year-old Customs and Border Protection officer Ricardo Manuel Cordero faces federal alien smuggling and bribery charges.

A seven-count federal grand jury indictment—returned on Wednesday—charges Cordero and 40-year-old Jaime Sergio Quintana with one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling and two substantive counts of alien smuggling. Cordero is also charged with two counts of accepting bribes; Quintana, two counts of offering bribes.

According to the indictment, the defendants have conspired since June of this year to smuggle an undocumented immigrant into the United States for private financial gain. The indictment further alleges that on two occasions—October 28, 2010, and December 9, 2010—the defendants smuggled an undocumented alien into the United States for which Quintana paid Cordero a monetary sum.

Authorities arrested Quintana and Cordero yesterday. Both had their initial appearance this afternoon and are scheduled for detention hearings at 10:00 a.m. on December 21, 2010, before United States Magistrate Judge Richard Mesa. Upon conviction, the defendants face up to 10 years in federal prison on the alien smuggling conspiracy charge; between three and 10 years in federal prison on each of the substantive alien smuggling charges; and up to 15 years in federal prison on each bribery charge.

This investigation is being conducted by the West Texas Border Corruption Task Force which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs together with the Department of Homeland Security - Office of Inspector General and the Homeland Security Investigations - Internal Affairs. Assistant United States Attorney Juanita Fielden is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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