San Diego

CBP Officer Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes, Sexual Favors to Smuggle Illegal Immigrants

Cota charged up to $15,000 per person to smuggle them across the border

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer plead guilty on Tuesday to bribery and smuggling illegal immigrants in exchange for monetary and sexual favors.

Jose Luis Cota, 50, a 15-year veteran with the Customs and Border Protection worked at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. He was arrested on Sept. 7, 2016, along with Miriam Elizabeth Juarez-Herrera and Gilberto Aguilar-Martinez, both 31.

Cota admitted to accepting money and sexual favors from Juarez-Herrera in exchange for allowing illegal immigrants across the border. He also accepted bribes from Aguilar-Martinez.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of smuggling illegal immigrants and one count of bribery of a public official.

According to his plea agreement, Cota was involved in the smuggling from November 2015 to September 2016, when he was arrested. During that time, Cota admitted to smuggling at least 10 illegal immigrants into the country.

Juarez-Herrera, an undocumented immigrant, would find and recruit illegal immigrants in Mexico and smuggle them into the U.S.

Cota charged up to $15,000 per person.

Aguilar-Martinez is a two-time convicted felon and was previously deported as an undocumented immigrant.

“Public corruption, which includes border corruption, is the number one criminal priority for the FBI because of the potential harm that actions, like Officer Cota’s actions, can have on our nation’s security,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum.

If convicted, Cota could face more than 10 years in prison.

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