Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Ex-Border Patrol agents get at least 30 years for smuggling immigrants
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

San Diego • A federal judge on Friday sentenced two brothers who worked as Border Patrol agents to at least 30 years in prison for smuggling hundreds of immigrants into the United States.

U.S. District Court Judge John Houston sentenced Raul Villarreal to 35 years for leading the smuggling ring. His brother, Fidel Villarreal, was sentenced to 30 years for managing the operation.

The sentences are among the longest given to border law enforcement officials.

Houston said he gave the severe sentences to deter others. The judge called their smuggling operation "disgusting" and a threat to national security.

The brothers were accused of helping more than 500 migrants cross the border from Mexico.

Prosecutors said Raul Villarreal — who made television appearances as an agency spokesman and once played the role of a smuggler in a public service ad — recruited his brother to his ring that smuggled in Mexicans and Brazilians. One Brazilian woman told investigators she paid $12,000 to cross. Federal officials said they also took bribes from public officials.

The federal probe began in May 2005 when an informant tipped off the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Investigators installed cameras in areas where migrants were dropped off, planted recording devices and placed tracking instruments on Border Patrol vehicles.

Article Tools

 Print Friendly
 
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.