A veteran customs officer in Nogales took a $6,000 bribe in a cross-border human-smuggling scheme, according to a federal grand jury indictment.
Jose Rosalio Fuentes is accused of failing to “do his official duty to inspect and interdict” an unnamed individual who illegally entered the United States from Mexico through Nogales on Feb. 10. Two days later, he took a $6,000 cash payment for allowing the individual to cross the border illegally.
Fuentes, who also goes by “Pollito,” or little chicken, faces one felony count each of human smuggling for profit and bribery, according to the indictment filed Oct. 10 in U.S. District Court in Tucson and unsealed Oct. 26.
He was arrested Oct. 24 in Nogales by an FBI special agent, according to an arrest warrant issued Oct. 11. Fuentes pleaded not guilty the day of his arrest and was released on his own recognizance, court records show.
Fuentes started working at the Port of Nogales in 1991, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told the Arizona Daily Star. CBP placed Fuentes on administrative nonworking status pending the agency’s evaluation of the case.
The Office of Field Operations, which is the agency within CBP that runs the ports of entry, is cooperating with the investigation of Fuentes by the FBI’s Southern Arizona Public Corruption Task Force.
Fuentes’ trial is scheduled to start Dec. 4.
His defense attorney did not respond to a request for comment.