The scope of corruption alleged against a former Border Patrol agent in Southern Arizona is much wider than previously known, according to an updated indictment filed in Tucson federal court.
Ramon Antonio Monreal Rodriguez, a 32-year-old Vail resident who worked at the Border Patrol’s station in Three Points, was charged in October with smuggling 90 pounds of cocaine and handing over $650,000 to drug traffickers during late-night shifts at a remote border crossing in Southern Arizona, as well as lying during the purchase of firearms, according to U.S. District Court records.
In an updated indictment, Monreal now faces charges of smuggling $1.2 million in cash from Arizona to Sonora, Mexico, accepting bribes and smuggling 235 pounds of marijuana. He also is accused of smuggling 255 pounds of cocaine, nearly three times as much as in the first indictment.
Most of the alleged crimes in the updated indictment occurred near Topawa, a small community northwest of Sasabe on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. The alleged bribery occurred in Topawa and Tucson.
Monreal initially was charged Sept. 19 with conspiracy and making false statements in connection with the purchase of firearms after an alleged co-conspirator showed up at a Tucson firearms dealer with a backpack of cash, according to a sworn affidavit filed by an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Monreal resigned from the Border Patrol on Sept. 25 after 10 years with the agency. He pleaded not guilty to all charges in the updated indictment on March 1. His trial is tentatively scheduled for April 30.
Miguel Armando Cordova and Marna Argelia Monreal also were charged in the updated indictment with conspiring to smuggle cocaine and marijuana. The names of three other defendants were redacted from the indictment. Cordova also was indicted with Monreal in the firearms case.
As the Arizona Daily Star reported in October, Monreal was accused of picking up 90 pounds of cocaine from smugglers in a wash near the San Miguel Gate, a remote border crossing on the Tohono O’odham Reservation, while on duty around 1:30 a.m. Sept. 18. Monreal allegedly handed the smugglers the first payment of $334,000 and kept the cocaine in his Border Patrol vehicle for the rest of his shift.
Four days later, he allegedly went back to the border while on duty and handed over $317,000 to the smugglers. Monreal’s payment was 6 pounds of narcotics and $66,000, a special agent with the FBI wrote in a criminal complaint.
Federal prosecutors also said Monreal tried to arrange the assault of a corrections officer at a federal prison in Southern Arizona who was dating his ex-girlfriend, what Monreal called “a little tune-up” in audio messages recovered by investigators, court records show.
Monreal also asked a drug trafficker to make his ex-girlfriend “disappear.” Monreal was not charged for the alleged threats.
Monreal was released from custody in late November on a $25,000 cash bond, court records show. He was ordered to observe a curfew, undergo location monitoring, not leave Pima County and not contact two individuals.