Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation
September 9, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) - FBI Special Agent in Charge, Eric S. Birnbaum announced three arrests and filing of a six count federal complaint against a United States Customs and Border Protection Officer and two co-conspirators, as a result of a public corruption and alien smuggling investigation conducted in San Diego.
Those arrested Wednesday are Jose Luis Cota, 50, employed a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer at the San Ysidro Port of Entry; Miriam Elizabeth Juarez Herrera, 31, a removed alien who is charged with smuggling unlawful aliens into the U.S. from Mexico; and Gilberto Aguilar-Martinez, 31, a removed alien and two-time convicted felon, charged with assisting with the alien smuggling operation.
Large sums of cash were deposited into Cota’s accounts after he allowed smuggled aliens through his checkpoint line at San Yisdro on three different occasions in 2015 and 2016, prosecutors allege.
According to the complaint, during an interview with FBI Agents, Juarez-Herrera admitted she smuggled aliens through the SYSPOE and paid bribes, in the form of cash and sexual favors, to Cota. The complaint further alleges that Cota stated that in exchange for him unlawfully admitting Juarez-Herrera and the aliens into the United States, Cota received bribes, in the form of sexual favors, from her.
Initial appearances were then held before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major on September 8, 2016. During the initial appearances, the United States moved to detain all three defendants due to their risk of flight. A detention hearing for each defendant is scheduled for September 14, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Barbara L. Major. A preliminary hearing is also scheduled for September 22, 2016 at 9:30 a.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major.