Border Patrol Agent Indicted for Extortion,
APR 7 -- (LAREDO, TX) United States Attorney Michael Shelby announced today the return of a twelve count indictment by a federal grand jury sitting in Laredo, Texas, charging Senior Border Patrol Agent Juan Alvarez, 35, and his brother Jose Guadalupe Alvarez, 38, both residents of Laredo, with being involved in an on-going scheme to extort and solicit money from members of a drug organization in exchange for providing safe passage of narcotics through a United States Border Patrol checkpoint.
“Again,” said United States Attorney Shelby, “this underscores the commitment of this office to use its resources and those of our federal law enforcement partners to ensure federal law enforcement officials follow the same laws they are sworn to uphold.”
Juan Alvarez is a senior Border Patrol agent and canine handler stationed at Hebbronville, Texas, and is responsible for manning the United States Border Patrol checkpoints located on Texas Highway 359 and Texas Highway 16. As a Border Patrol agent his duties include the screening of traffic traveling through the checkpoints in an attempt to deter both narcotics and alien smuggling.
The Indictment charges that from June 2003 through March 29, 2005, Juan Alvarez and his brother solicited and received approximately $1,500,000.00 from members of a
drug trafficking organization in exchange for guaranteeing the safe passage of illegal narcotics through the checkpoints. According to the Indictment, the drug organization moved at least one load of marihuana per month with each load containing between one and two tons of marihuana.
Count one of the indictment charges both men with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 kilograms of marihuana and a quantity in excess of five kilograms of cocaine. Counts two, three, and four, charge both defendants with aiding and abetting each other to possession with intent to distribute varying amounts of marihuana and cocaine. The drug counts carry a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. Counts five and six charge Juan Alvarez with carrying and possessing a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense and carry an additional consecutive sentence of five years imprisonment. Count seven charges both brothers with conspiracy to extort money under color of official right. Counts eight and nine charge both defendants with interfering with interstate commerce by means of extortion. Counts seven through nine are punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years. Count ten charges both defendants with participating in a bribery conspiracy and Counts eleven and twelve charge both defendants with soliciting and accepting bribes. Counts ten through twelve carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years. A notice of forfeiture in the indictment seeks to recover $1,500,000.00 U.S. dollars from the defendants as proceeds of their illegal activities or substitute assets.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General; and the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Marina Garcia Marmolejo.
An indictment is an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.