Ronaldo Vidaurri Jr, a border patrol agent, has admitted to taking bribes from human smugglers.
He was being paid $400 per person he smuggled in.
Ronaldo Vidaurri Jr. sped north up Highway 35 in a Ram pickup near Pearsall, Tex., after crossing the border from Mexico in March 2019. When he was pulled over by the Frio County Sheriff’s Office, deputies discovered he was smuggling five migrants.
Vidaurri later pleaded guilty to illegally conspiring to transport people across the border, but he told investigators he had help. A U.S. Border Patrol agent named Rodney Tolson Jr. let Vidaurri cross the checkpoint with “loads” of migrants, he told investigators, according to a plea agreement filed this week.
In May, Tolson was arrested and indicted by a grand jury. He signed his plea deal on July 7, admitting to conspiracy to transport an undocumented migrant within the United States.
Now, Tolson is facing up to 10 years in prison for conspiring to illegally transport migrants from February to March 2019. Tolson confessed to receiving $400 per person from an associate of Vidaurri, according to the plea deal. The associate, who wasn’t named in court documents, said Tolson assisted in their smuggling operations as many as six times.
It is unclear how much money the Border Patrol agent received.
Tolson was arrested in Laredo on May 21 after he was indicted by a grand jury, according to a Border Patrol statement. The statement, which did not name Tolson, added that he had been with the agency since 2008 and had been suspended indefinitely.
Corruption among border agents has been a thorn in the side of government officials working to tackle the problems at the US-Mexico frontier. According to a 2015 US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) integrity report, “arrests for corruption of CBP personnel far exceed, on a per capita basis, such arrests at other federal law enforcement agencies.”
In January of this year another border agent, Jose Rosalio Fuentes, pleaded guilty to accepting $6,000 for facilitating illegal border crossings, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Two days after Tolson pleaded guilty, another Border Patrol agent was arrested and accused of accepting $1,000 to help smuggle cocaine through a checkpoint.
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