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Former CBP Officer Sentenced to Prison for Bribery, Cocaine Trafficking, and Alien Smuggling

U.S. Attorney’s Office March 31, 2010
  • Southern District of Texas (713) 567-9000

BROWNSVILLE, TX—United States District Judge Andrew S. Hanen has sentenced a former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer to 140 months in federal prison without parole for bribery, cocaine trafficking, and alien smuggling, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Jose Raul Montano Jr., 35, of Weslaco, Texas, was sentenced this morning. Judge Hanen handed down a 140-month sentence for the possession with intent to distribute cocaine conviction, 120 months for the bribery conviction, and 80 months for the transporting illegal aliens conviction. All three sentences are to be served concurrently. Immediately thereafter, Judge Hanen remanded Montano into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service to begin serving his sentence. Following his release from prison, the court further ordered Montano to serve a five-year term of supervised release. Montano pleaded guilty to all three counts of conviction in November 2009.

“The public expects its duly sworn officers will enforce the law, not violate it,” said Moreno. “Every day, federal agents and state and local law enforcement officers put their lives on the line guided by their oath to serve, protect, and defend our nation, our communities, and each of us. The criminal conduct of this former officer is the exception, not the rule, among law enforcement. Our office will continue to aggressively pursue the exception and applaud the rule.”

At his re-arraignment, the United States presented a summary of the evidence produced by a joint investigation conducted by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Office of Professional Responsibility (ICE-OPR) and Office of Inspector General (OIG). That investigation was initiated in early February 2008 after ICE-OPR agents received information alleging that Montano, a CBP officer assigned the Brownsville Gateway Port of Entry, used his position as a CBP officer to allow others to smuggle illegal aliens and drugs into the United States through the Port of Entry (POE) and was receiving bribes. The investigation proved Montano notified his contacts when he would be working a particular lane. Those contacts would then relay the information to drivers who would, in turn, drive through his lane in vehicles carrying aliens, cocaine or both knowing they would be permitted to enter the United States by Montano unchecked. Montano would later be paid by one of the drivers for allowing the crossing of the undocumented aliens and contraband. On April 2, 2009, the date of his arrest, Montano admitted to investigating agents that he had begun accepting bribes—approximately $500—since the summer of 2007 for permitting vehicles he knew carried illegal aliens into the U.S. By the time of his arrest, he was involved in smuggling aliens and drugs and receiving bribes ranging from $8,000 to $10,000 per vehicle.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce.

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