Border Patrol Agent Guilty of Violating Civil Rights of Legal Border Crosser

The former federal official used his position to accuse a U.S. citizen of being linked to a narcotics organization because of the man's accusation against the officer's brother-in-law.

A former U.S. Border Patrol Supervisory Agent pleaded guilty Thursday to using his position to repeatedly detain an innocent man at a port of entry south of San Diego, California.

The man detained was a U.S. citizen and the father of an 11-year-old boy who had accused the agent's brother-in-law of molestation.

Martin Rene Duran, 49, of Chula Vista, was arrested in 2015 at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on suspicion of eight felonies, including using his government position to create false entries in a government database and civil rights violations.

The database, known as TECS, is used by officers at the border to assist with screening individuals seeking entry into the United States.

Duran claimed his brother-in-law's accuser was “known to carry firearms” and was linked to a narcotics organization. According to the complaint, the man had no criminal history.

On five different occasions in 2013, Duran caused the man, known as "R. C." in the complaint to be sent to secondary inspection and detained for hours.

Prosecutors say on one occasion, “R.C.” and his wife were ordered out of their vehicle, handcuffed, separated from their children and put in a holding cell for almost two hours before being released.

When he submitted his guilty plea Thursday, Duran admitted he had detained "R.C." so he could question him about the allegations involving his brother-in-law.

“This agent used his significant power against someone he was sworn to protect,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman in a written release. “He targeted a law-abiding citizen because of a personal vendetta, and for that he will pay a price.”

When he's sentenced on the deprivation of rights under color of law conviction, Duran faces 12 months in custody and a $100,000 fine. 

He's also facing five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for an unrelated illegal transportation of firearms charge.

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