Border agents in San Diego have been caught in a shocking corruption scandal
—taking cash payments and sexual favors, in order to look the other way as illegal immigrants were smuggled across the border.
Jose Luis Cota, who had been a border patrol agent for 15 years, was sentenced to 5 years in prison after entering a guilty plea to three counts of bringing in immigrants for financial gain, and one count of bribery of a public official.
The immigrants were brought over by a husband and wife team, Gilberto Aguilar-Martinez and Miriam Juarez-Herrera—with illegal immigrants paying up to $15,000 a piece to be brought across.
Beginning in November 2015, the husband-and-wife duo began recruiting illegal immigrants to be smuggled across the border Juarez-Herrera’s car, while Cota was on duty. He would wave her car through the port of entry at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing, without conducting a search.
They smuggled in at least 10 immigrants in 2015 and 2016, before they were arrested in November.
Altogether, Cota received about $44,000 in bribes from Juarez-Herrera and Aguilar-Martinez—along with sexual favors from Juarez-Herrera. Federal agents have seized more than $17,000 in bribes, and Coat has agreed to forfeit the rest.