Two Border Patrol agents were found guilty yesterday of smuggling hundreds of people into the United States—using official Patrol vehicles. The government began investigating brothers Raul and Fidel Villarreal in 2005, but the Villarreals were tipped off in 2006 and fled to Mexico, where they were arrested two years later and extradited to the US.
Prosecutors said Raul started a ring that smuggled in Mexicans and Brazilians and made Fidel, his older brother and a fellow agent, one of his first recruits. Found guilty of human smuggling, witness tampering, and bribery, the brothers face up to 50 years in prison and fines of $1.25 million. Another defendant, Armando Garcia, was also found guilty of human smuggling and money laundering, while a fourth agent pleaded guilty in 2009.