Former BP Agents Convicted of Smuggling Illegal Immigrants

Brothers and former Border Patrol agents Raul Villareal and Fidel Villareal are accused of running an illegal immigrant smuggling ring in 2005 and 2006

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    A federal jury in San Diego has convicted two former Border Patrol agents of smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced Friday.

    Brothers Raul Villareal, 42, and Fidel Villareal, 44, were found guilty Friday of conspiracy to bring in illegal immigrants for financial gain, multiple counts of bringing in illegal immigrants for financial gain and conspiracy to launder money.

    The Villareals were also convicted of receiving bribes by public officials, according to Duffy.

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    A trial is underway for the Villareal brothers, two for border patrol agents accused of smuggling hundreds of people into the US illegally.

    According to prosecutors, the brothers started a smuggling ring that brought Mexican immigrants into the U.S. illegally using Border Patrol vehicles between 2005 and 2006.

    The former Border Patrol agents were arrested on Oct. 18, 2008, in Tijuana, Mexico, along with additional suspects Armando Garcia and Claudia Gonzalez.

    Prosecutors said Garcia would lead groups of illegal immigrants into the U.S. by walking them across the border at locations other than official ports of entry. The Villareal brothers would then pick up those illegal immigrants using their official Border Patrol vehicles and bring them into the country.

    Garcia and Gonzalez also allegedly conspired to launder money with the brothers.

    During his career as a Border Patrol agent, Raul Villareal served as a spokesman and public face of the agency.

    Now, he and his brother each face up to 50 years in prison.

    The Villareals are scheduled to appear in court on November 16 before a judge for sentencing.

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