Posted on February 1, 2006

Ex-U.S. Agent Pleads Guilty in Smuggling

Onell R. Soto, San Diego Union-Tribune, Feb. 1, 2006

A Mexican man who lied about his citizenship to become a U.S. Border Patrol agent has pleaded guilty to several crimes in San Diego federal court and is scheduled to be sentenced May 12.

Oscar Antonio Ortiz, 28, admitted he helped smuggle more than 100 illegal immigrants into the United States. Ortiz is being held without bail.

Ortiz and another Border Patrol agent, who has not been charged, are described in court papers as agents who smuggled illegal immigrants in their vehicles or who looked the other way while smugglers went through their area with the immigrants. It is unclear why the other agent has not been charged.

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In November, Border Patrol officials admitted hiring Ortiz in 2002, even though a background check flagged a problem in his application. He admitted using drugs and being arrested on suspicion of smuggling.

The officials said they have fixed the problems in the hiring process that his arrest exposed. They also said they are now working to verify that all other employees are U.S. citizens.

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