LAREDO, TX — Juan Gabriel Bonilla, 27, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer from Laredo, has been arrested for attempting to transport aliens into the United States and conspiracy to do so, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
The indictment was returned under seal Dec. 17, 2013, and unsealed today upon his arrest. Bonilla is expected to make an initial appearance tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker along with co-defendant Martha Maria Escobar, 35. Escobar, a legal permanent resident from Mexico, has been in federal custody since Oct. 11, 2013, the date of her initial arrest.
They are charged with conspiracy and three counts of transportation or attempted transportation of aliens in the United States.
According to the criminal complaint filed upon Escobar’s arrest, she was transporting several relatives in her car, three of whom were undocumented aliens from Mexico. Bonilla conducted an inspection of her vehicle and passengers, but allegedly released them to enable them to enter the United States illegally. Further inspection by another officer led to the discovery that the three of the passengers were illegal aliens and were being transported by Escobar, according to the allegations.
If convicted, each faces up to five years in federal prison on each count and a possible $250,000 fine.
The case is being investigated by CBP, CBP-Office of Internal Affairs, Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Office of Professional Responsibility and Department of Homeland Security-Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Homero Ramirez is prosecuting the case.