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Former Border Inspector Sentenced

A former border inspector was sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison for guiding hundreds of illegal immigrants through his checkpoint booth in exchange for taking at least $70,000 from a

A former border inspector was sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison for guiding hundreds of illegal immigrants through his checkpoint booth in exchange for taking at least $70,000 from a smuggling ring.

Michael Anthony Gilliland, a 44-year-old former Marine and 16-year border agent, pleaded guilty in September to letting illegal immigrants through San Diego's Otay Mesa port of entry in exchange for bribes.

Gilliland and five others coordinated smuggling operations and deliberately failed to record vehicles that ferried immigrants through border lanes under his supervision, according to court documents. He was arrested in June.

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 Four other co-conspirators have been sentenced to shorter prison terms their roles in the ring. A fifth co-conspirator, Aurora Torres Lopez, is scheduled to be sentenced later in the month.

Gilliland was also ordered to pay $200,000 in fines.

Prosecutors said Gilliland had taken between $70,000 and $120,000 from Torres and her group since 2004.

Wiretaps described in court documents recorded Gilliland, who worked the graveyard shift, speaking in code with Torres and another female accomplice about his schedule and how many immigrants would be coming through his lane.

Gilliland has been under house arrest, monitored by an electronic ankle bracelet, since posting $750,000 bond earlier this summer.

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U.S. District Court Judge John A. Houston ordered Gilliland to surrender March 16.

Customs and Border Protection has seen a number of corruption cases recently.

Another San Diego border inspector, Richard Elizalda, pleaded guilty to one count of accepting bribes as a public official and two counts of bringing illegal aliens into the country for financial gain. Prosecutors said he sent text messages directing drivers to his inspection lane at the San Ysidro border crossing and then waved them through.

He faces up to 35 years in prison and $820,000 in fines.