A federal jury in San Diego have convicted two brothers of bringing illegal immigrants into the U.S. for financial gain while employed as Border Patrol agents.
The panel also found Fidel and Raul Villarreal guilty of accepting bribes and conspiring to launder money while running an alien-smuggling organization with several other accomplices.
According to evidence presented during a five-week trial, one of the Villarreals' co-defendants, 44-year-old Armando Garcia, led groups of illegal immigrants across the border at locations other than ports of entry on a number of occasions in 2005 and 2006.
Fidel Villarreal, 44, and his 42-year-old sibling then picked up the illegal immigrants in their patrol vehicles and released them north of the border, according to prosecutors.
Raul Villarreal was a former Border Patrol spokesman for years in San Diego and was based at the Imperial Beach station, U-T San Diego reported.
Along with the brothers, the jury convicted Garcia of bringing illegal immigrants into the U.S. for financial gain, as well as conspiracy to commit that crime and to launder money.
The Villarreals were arrested in Tijuana in October 2008 after living in Mexico for years, along with Garcia and another accomplice, Claudia Gonzalez. The suspects were transferred to Mexico City for extradition proceedings and returned to the United States in March 2009.
The indictment against them was handed down by a federal grand jury in San Diego in April 2008.
Gonzalez pleaded guilty in December 2009 to conspiracy to smuggle illegal immigrants for financial gain, bribery, and money laundering. Her sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10.
Garcia and the Villarreal brothers are slated to be sentenced Nov. 16.
– City News Service