The Brownsville Herald
A Brownsville man was sentenced Wednesday to 17 years in prison for drug trafficking, human smuggling and bribery, crimes committed while he was a Customs and Border Protection inspector, authorities announced.
Luis Enrique Ramirez, 39, pleaded guilty in March to being a member of a drug-trafficking organization from November 2007 to January 2009, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno said in a press release.
Ramirez is no longer a Customs and Border Protection officer.
He was convicted of allowing more than 26 pounds of cocaine to be driven through a primary inspection lane he was manning, conspiring with others to smuggle undocumented immigrants into the United States for money and accepting bribes, authorities said.
He was sentenced to 204 months in federal prison.
He reportedly disappeared months before he was named in a federal indictment dated April 14, 2009.
More than a year later, he was arrested, on Oct. 30, 2010, when he tried to leave Matamoros and enter Brownsville.
Ramirez received the statutory maximum 120 months for each of the two counts of alien smuggling, the statutory maximum of 180 months for the bribery conviction, as well as 204 months for drug smuggling, according to the release.
The sentences for his crimes are to run concurrently, the release said.
Following his prison term he will serve 10 years of supervised release, authorities said.
U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen also entered a money judgment in the amount of $500,000 against Ramirez, a sum representing the proceeds of his criminal activity, the release said.
Court records indicate that Ramirez received at least $800,000 in bribes.
Authorities said factors in Ramirez’s sentencing were his recruitment of other individuals, his position as a high-level public official, his acceptance of multiple bribes totaling more than $5,000 and his use of his position as a public official to facilitate the illegal entry persons and narcotics into United States.
Ramirez’s sentencing was initially scheduled for June 6, but later changed to July 6.
According to court documents, Ramirez said that while in Mexico, he had been subject to illegal torture. He also said he was kidnapped, tortured and drugged by members of an armed cartel.
Ramirez said his kidnapping was ordered by U.S. law enforcement officials, who wanted him brought back to the United States, according to the court documents.
The document was filed in 2010 in an attempt to get the federal charges dropped against Ramirez because of an “illegal extradition.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office countered the accusations with a document in which the government “denies it had any involvement in the alleged kidnapping and torture of the defendant.”
The Ramirez case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility, the FBI, CBP Internal Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector.