6 Records of Alleged Abusive or Improper Conduct where the event type is “Corruption”

July 3, 2023

A San Diego federal court indicted CBP Officer Leonard Darnell George on charges of “receiving bribes by a public official and two charges for conspiracy to traffic and distribute drugs. Prosecutors allege George allowed vehicles containing stashes of methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine and heroin to enter the U.S. from Mexico.” (Original link)

George was the lead defendant in a seven-person indictment on the drug charges, though he was accused separately of taking bribes and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The indictment alleges that George, known as “The Goalie,” began accepting bribes as early as October 2021 and continued to do so until at least June 2022.

If convicted, George faces a life sentence.

Prosecutors and court records indicated George had prior issues in the workplace including a May 6th incident leading to an administrative leave placement. The incident, according to San Diego Superior Court records, involved George alerting his CBP supervisor of self-harm. The San Diego police consequently detained him on a mental health hold, seized his firearms, and sought a gun violence restraining order that would prohibit him from purchasing firearms. In response to the incident, a CBP spokesperson noted that the agency was prohibited from discussing administrative actions, including discipline, as well as matters under litigation.

A second incident on record involved George and his brother, after one of their frequent trips to Mexico. According to court records and varying accounts, a dispute broke out at the San Ysidro Port of Entry after George said his brother left his wallet at home, and gave the officers a fake name and birth date for him, allegedly due to an arrest warrant for his brother. A verbal altercation broke out and the officers claimed George grew hostile and later threatened and intimidated them. The incident prompted four fellow CBP officers to seek harassment restraining orders against George, according to court records. Three of the four restraining orders were granted.

A third incident on record is from 2018, between the time he was hired to work for CBP and when he actually began his employment, where two of his colleagues filed a complaint with the local police department claiming George “threatened to hurt them”. George denied the incident and sought a restraining order against them. The incident resulted in George being placed on leave for three weeks and the judge denied his restraining order request.

—Green, Emily. “A Border Agent Was Just Charged With Taking Bribes from Cartels to Smuggle Drugs.” Vice, July 6, 2023. https://www.vice.com/en/article/5d9d48/a-border-agent-was-just-charged-with-taking-bribes-to-smuggle-drugs.

—Riggins, Alex. “CBP Officer Charged with Taking Bribes at Border Deemed Flight Risk in Drug Case – The San Diego Union-Tribune.” San Diego Union-Tribune, July 11, 2023. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/courts/story/2023-07-11/cbp-officer-george-detention-hearing.

—United States Department of Justice Southern District of California. “Customs and Border Protection Officer Indicted for Receiving Bribes, Allowing Drug-Laden Vehicles to Enter the U.S.,” July 3, 2023. https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdca/pr/customs-and-border-protection-officer-indicted-receiving-bribes-allowing-drug-laden.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Corruption, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Threat of Violence

Last Known Accountability Status: Criminal Charges Pending, Under Judicial Review

Victim Classification:

June 28, 2023

El Paso-based Border Patrol agent Fernando Castillo allegedly offered a migrant woman “papers” and the ability to stay in the United States in exchange for a $5,000 bribe, and stole $500 from her bag, according to court documents. (Original link)

The migrant woman reported the incident, eventually leading to Castillo being indicted by a grand jury on three counts of wire fraud, bribery by a public official and migrant smuggling following his arrest on June 28, according to federal court records.

— Ameer, Sana. “Report: Border Officer Asked for $5K Bribe to Let Migrant Stay in US.” Laredo Morning Times, August 2, 2023. https://www.lmtonline.com/news/article/border-patrol-agent-bribe-18275015.php.

— “Border Patrol Agent Charged with Bribery, Allegedly Offered Immigration Benefits to Migran.” KOMO, July 28, 2023. https://komonews.com/news/nation-world/border-patrol-agent-accused-of-offering-migrant-immigration-papers-for-5k-fernando-castillo-el-paso-texas-us-mexico-border-immigration.

— “Castillo Criminal Complaint.” U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, June 28, 2023. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FtH87RvUPwZLM4Kg5koKrwR8djWql0KM/view.

— Resendiz, Julian. “Border Agent Allegedly Offered Woman ‘Papers’ for $5,000.” BorderReport, July 27, 2023. https://www.borderreport.com/immigration/border-crime/border-agent-allegedly-offered-woman-papers-for-5000/.

— Weisfeldt, Sara, and Rosa Flores. “US Border Patrol Agent Indicted on Bribery and Smuggling Charges for Allegedly Offering Migrant Immigration ‘papers’ for $5,000.” CNN, August 1, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/01/us/us-border-patrol-agent-bribery-charge-migrant-papers/index.html.

Sector(s): El Paso

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Corruption, Non-Return of Belongings

Last Known Accountability Status: Criminal Charges Pending, Under Judicial Review

Victim Classification: Female, Single Adult

February 16,2023

On February 16, 2023  an open letter to Border Patrol was published with contributions from 16 humanitarian organizations denouncing Border Patrol’s response to a medical emergency in a remote area of the Southern Arizona borderlands. As documented by the volunteer search and rescue team involved in the case, the family of a Guatemalan migrant named Martín, made a distress call to a humanitarian aid group that works with migrants, as he needed medical assistance in the wilderness area of the Baboquivari Mountains, lying on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. Martín had been left behind by the group he was traveling with due to chest pains not allowing him to continue. The humanitarian group alerted Border Patrol and 911 dispatchers of Martín’s exact coordinates, personal phone number, and copy of his ID. All 911 calls were sent to Border Patrol, which were unresponsive. Border Patrol was unresponsive for three days during the search for Martín. After the Border Patrol did not respond, another humanitarian aid group,  Frontera Aid Collective (FAC), made various calls to law enforcement in Pima County, Arizona, near Martín’s location.

 The calls were then transferred to the “Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue Unit (BORSTAR), who refused to initiate a rescue. As cited in the open letter, “one dispatcher even laughed at the callers.” In response to Border Patrol’s inaction, Frontera Aid Collective and Tucson Samaritans volunteers organized a life-threatening rescue mission to the mountains. During this time, over 40 emergency calls from various groups were made to Border Patrol. Martín, himself, called 911 11 times over the course of 3 days and even sighted helicopters that did not offer help. Once the humanitarian groups were able to locate him, they assisted him down the mountain. After “he was given minimal medical evaluation and treatment by agents who spoke and understood very little of his language, at the bottom of the mountain, he was deported to Nogales, Sonora.”

Several Organizations. “Open Letter to US Border Patrol,” February 2023. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AJdxfSZz9nYtEwZOtTIzVrrEgEYP5R-wq6xBjkPqMTw/edit?usp=embed_facebook.

Sector(s): Border Patrol

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, CBP

Event Type(s): Corruption, Denial of Access to Asylum, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable, Disregard of Public Health, Endangerment, Inappropriate Deportation, Insubordinate or Highly Politicized Conduct, Lying or Deliberate Misleading, Misuse of Intelligence Capability, Return of Vulnerable Individuals

Last Known Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Guatemala, Medical Condition

December 14, 2022

A Tucson, Arizona federal district judge sentenced former Border Patrol agent Ramon Antonio Monreal Rodriguez to 152 months in prison, and $151,000 in restitution to Border Patrol.

Monreal, who worked at the Three Points Station in Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, was found guilty of purchasing firearms for felons, and conspiring with Mexican drug traffickers to take their product past Border Patrol checkpoints, often inside his Border Patrol vehicle. According to a December 27, 2022 Justice Department statement, “He admitted to distributing 116 kilograms of cocaine and 107 kilograms of marijuana as part of the conspiracy.” (Original link)

The Arizona Daily Star reported more details of the case in 2019:

Monreal was accused of picking up 90 pounds of cocaine from smugglers in a wash near the San Miguel Gate, a remote border crossing on the Tohono O’odham Reservation, while on duty around 1:30 a.m. Sept. 18. Monreal allegedly handed the smugglers the first payment of $334,000 and kept the cocaine in his Border Patrol vehicle for the rest of his shift.

Four days later, he allegedly went back to the border while on duty and handed over $317,000 to the smugglers. Monreal’s payment was 6 pounds of narcotics and $66,000, a special agent with the FBI wrote in a criminal complaint.

Federal prosecutors also said Monreal tried to arrange the assault of a corrections officer at a federal prison in Southern Arizona who was dating his ex-girlfriend, what Monreal called “a little tune-up” in audio messages recovered by investigators, court records show.

Monreal also asked a drug trafficker to make his ex-girlfriend “disappear.” Monreal was not charged for the alleged threats.

This case was investigated by the Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force (SACTF) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The SACTF includes personnel from the FBI, the DHS Inspector-General’s office, the Offices of Professional Responsibility for ICE and CBP, the DEA, and the Tucson Police Department.

— United States Department of Justice. “Former Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to More Than 12 Years on Bribery, Firearms, and Narcotics Charges,” December 27, 2022. <https://www.justice.gov/usao-az/pr/former-border-patrol-agent-sentenced-more-12-years-bribery-firearms-and-narcotics-charges>.

— Prendergast, Curt. “Indictment: Arizona Border Agent Smuggled 255 Lbs. of Cocaine, $1.2M in Cash.” Arizona Daily Star. March 5, 2019. <https://tucson.com/news/local/indictment-arizona-border-agent-smuggled-255-lbs-of-cocaine-1-2m-in-cash/article_b7748288-1e83-5768-a4a0-c70f3a3fa434.html>.

— “USA v. Monreal-Rodriguez et al. 4:18-Cr-02215.” Administrative Office of the United States Courts, June 6, 2022. <https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/USCOURTS-azd-4_18-cr-02215>.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Corruption

Last Known Accountability Status: Criminal Conviction

Victim Classification:

July 26, 2022

A U.S. District judge sentenced former CBP officer Simon Medina to 24 months in federal prison (original link). Medina admitted that, while serving at the Laredo, Texas port of entry,

between May 25 and Aug. 6, 2020, he allowed several individuals to enter the United States with contraband in their vehicles on approximately 20 occasions. Although not assigned to the entry lanes at the Laredo Port of Entry, Medina would open a lane and allow his co-conspirators to pass through without inspecting their cargo. Medina also accepted gratuities from his partners.

Medina had pleaded guilty on March 8, 2022. CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility carried out the initial investigation of his case.

— “Former law enforcement officer heads to prison for allowing contraband into country” (Texas: U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas, July 26, 2022) https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/former-law-enforcement-officer-heads-prison-allowing-contraband-country.

Sector(s): Laredo Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Corruption

Last Known Accountability Status: Criminal Conviction, OPR Investigation Closed

Victim Classification:

July 15, 2021

Border Patrol agent Rodney Tolson pled guilty to conspiring to transport an undocumented alien within the United States. Tolson admitted taking $400-per-person payments in 2019 for allowing non-citizens to pass through the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate Highway 35 north of Laredo, Texas.

According to the plea agreement, as cited in the Washington Post, Tolson helped a migrant smuggler by “waving him through the checkpoint.”

According to the co-conspirator, Tolson would call to report “which lane and time window to use for crossing through the checkpoint,” the plea agreement says.

At one point, the co-conspirator asked if Tolson was ready to make money.

“U know it,” Tolson said in a WhatsApp social media message the co-conspirator shared with federal agents.

Their transactions would usually take place in the parking lot of a Walmart near the border, where Tolson would receive $400 per person, the documents state.

The DHS Inspector General and CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility investigated Tolson’s case, and referred it to the Department of Justice. On May 24, 2022, Tolson was sentenced in Laredo federal district court to 21 months in prison (original link).

— Julian Mark, “A Border Patrol agent was supposed to guard a U.S.-Mexico checkpoint. He took $400 bribes to smuggle migrants.” (Washington: The Washington Post, July 14, 2021) https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/07/14/border-patrol-agent-admits-bribes/.

— “Federal agent sent to prison for alien smuggling” (Laredo: U.S. Department of Justice Southern District of Texas, May 24, 2022) https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/federal-agent-sent-prison-alien-smuggling.

Sector(s): Laredo

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Corruption

Last Known Accountability Status: Criminal Conviction, DHS OIG investigation Closed, Judicial Case Closed, OPR Investigation Closed

Victim Classification: