APRIL 06, 2009
A federal immigration agent in charge of investigating domestic and international human smuggling organizations has admitted he took bribes to help illegal aliens from China and Latin America enter the United States.
The veteran Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, Pedro Cintron, worked undercover in Miami Florida and accepted $15,000 and expensive jewelry from government informants who were paid to help bust Ecuadorian and Chinese smuggling operations. He was indicted in November and pleaded guilty this month to receiving illegal gratuities by a public official.
Prosecutors say that, beginning in 2004, Cintron took cash and other gifts to help smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S. He also instructed a government informant to deliver $300 to his girlfriend in Ecuador and to obtain $1,000 worth of cellular phones for her. Additionally, the agent disclosed the name of a confidential government informant and made false statements to authorities investigating his bribery scheme.
ICE, the Homeland Security agency that enforces immigration laws and protects the U.S. against terrorist attacks, has been rocked by several major corruption scandals in the last year alone. Just last month a high-ranking ICE official in Detroit was sentenced to prison for taking bribes, gifts and favors to release illegal immigrants with criminal records, including one who committed murder after being freed and various registered sex offenders.
In November a high-ranking ICE attorney got charged with 75 crimes—including bribery, money laundering and federal worker’s compensation fraud—for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from illegal immigrants seeking American citizenship. In the same month a decorated ICE agent who had won the Justice Department’s highest honor for employee performance got arrested and charged with distributing drugs.
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