A Border Patrol agent was arrested after being accused of offering undocumented migrants “immigration papers” for $5,000, according to authorities.
Border Patrol agent Fernando Castillo allegedly offered migrants that were held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at 9201 Gateway South Boulevard in El Paso “immigration benefits” in exchange for the money.
The victim of the scheme was a Mexican and El Salvadoran citizen that had been intercepted twice by agents, according to the arrest affidavit. The victim claimed that Castillo was attempting to deport the migrant to Mexico, instead of El Salvador, to get close to the border.
A witness said that Castillo then volunteered to take the migrant to the Paso Del Norte port of entry in a white van. In their journey to the border, Castillo stopped the vehicle and told the migrant he could provide papers in exchange for $5,000.
Castillo said that the papers would only appear in the system for 10 to 12 days, during which the migrant could enter the country. After the specified period, the papers would “disappear from the system,” leaving the migrant free to live in the U.S., the affidavit continued.
The Border Patrol agent then took the migrant to a processing center in Paso Del Norte, where she was placed in a cell. Before leaving, however, Castillo looked through the migrant’s belongings. The migrant was then escorted to Mexico.
Once in Mexico, the migrant tried to buy some shoelaces and suddenly realized that $500 of the $830 she brought with her was stolen—an amount that was confirmed by officials at the processing center when they were counting her money and comparing it to the migrant tag.
The migrant returned to the port of entry and reported Castillo, and mentioned several phone calls from a blocked number she had received from him. The next time Castillo called, officials recorded the conversation, in which Castillo discussed the process to receive the immigration papers.
The next day, with the approval of Border Patrol officers, the migrant met with Castillo, who helped her cross the border. On June 28, during the crossing, Castillo was apprehended and questioned by federal officials.
Castillo denied taking her money and told officials he changed the migrants’ e3 file from “voluntary return” to “Notice to Appear.”
He is being charged with bribery of public officials, but the U.S. Attorney in Texas declined to comment on the case thus far.
“CBP takes allegations of misconduct seriously and investigates them thoroughly. The United States Border Patrol is cooperating with the investigation,” the agency said in a statement.