Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Brothers Raul and Fidel Villarreal are accused of using their positions as Border Patrol agents to smuggle undocumented immigrants from Tijuana to San Diego.
SAN DIEGO Two former U.S. Border Patrol agents have gone on trial in San Diego Federal Court, accused of running a human smuggling ring.
Federal prosecutors say that starting in 2005, brothers Raul and Fidel Villarreal used their positions as Border Patrol agents to smuggle undocumented immigrants across the border, usually charging thousands of dollars each.
They say the brothers recruited associates in Tijuana to help migrants cross the border, after which the agents picked them up in Border Patrol vehicles and delivered them to associates in San Diego who drove the migrants farther north.
The brothers quit their jobs abruptly in 2006 and moved to Mexico, but were arrested in 2008 and sent back to the U.S. in 2009.
The men pleaded not guilty to charges including bribery, immigrant smuggling, conspiracy and money laundering.