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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

US Border Agent Sentenced Last Month Believed He Helped Smuggle 'El Chapo' Into the US

 "MX" for Borderland Beat

The former US agent Jose Rosalio Fuentes said that he believed he helped smuggle Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Many of the people he helped smuggle into the US had outstanding drug charges.

A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer from Nogales, Arizona, was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for taking a US$6,000 bribery to allow a previously deported felon to enter the U.S. illegally through a port of entry. The officer, Jose Rosalio "Pollito" Fuentes, 58, was sentenced in Tucson last week and was ordered to serve three years of community supervision upon his release, and to pay penalties totaling US$6,100.

The investigation revealed that Fuentes had smuggled several people into the U.S. for US$4,000 per person. Some of these people were involved in drug trafficking. At one point, the pre-sentencing memo says, Fuentes grew concerned that one of the people he allowed in the country was the notorious drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, although he was assured it was not him.


The pre-sentencing memorandum says that Fuentes was working as a canine officer for the CBP in Nogales on 8 February 2018 when an unidentified co-conspirator sent him a message asking what would happen if one man, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Villa, who was in Mexico, turned himself in at the U.S. port of entry for outstanding warrants.

Fuentes responded to the text message by confirming that Gonzalez would be arrested at the border and be subject to 5 years in prison. Or, he said, Gonzalez “can wait for when I’m there and then well … he passes, right.”

The next day, Fuentes negotiated the deal with the co-conspirator and asked them to pay him US$6,000 for letting Gonzalez into the U.S.

“I would like to see if it could be six … at least to pay for this month’s utilities because I’m also behind,” Fuentes wrote.

On 10 February 2019, Fuentes was at the pedestrian port of entry port when Gonzalez and the co-conspirator showed up. Fuentes motioned them to his lane and let them through. Surveillance footage showed that Fuentes only scanned one ID but allowed the two to enter. He later sent a message asking for immediate payment, saying: "I have to pay my bills on Monday. Thanks."

A US Customs and Border Protection officer checks a passport at the Mexico-US border. Omar Martínez/picture alliance via Getty Images

In a later meeting, Fuentes was paid the US$6,000. A week later, however, the man that he helped smuggle (Gonzalez) was arrested on outstanding warrants, including a federal weapon offense.

Gonzalez pleaded guilty to bringing Fuentes. In his plea deal, he explained how he was able to enter the U.S. He described how he showed up at the port of entry where Fuentes let him in wearing a red University of Arizona sweatshirt with blue lettering and carrying an ID from someone else.

“(Fuentes) pretended to scan the card through the card reader and allowed myself and the other person to enter the United States without inspection,” Gonzalez stated in his plea deal. 

He also recounted the meeting where he paid Fuentes US$6,000 for the job.

Not the only case

Investigators discovered that Fuentes had smuggled several people into the U.S. for US$4,000.

At one point, he grew concerned that he had smuggled Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, although he was assured it was not him. Court documents do not specify when Fuentes suspected this. El Chapo was arrested in Mexico in 2014, escaped from prison in 2015, and was re-arrested in 2016. He was extradited to the U.S. in 2017.

Court documents detailing Fuentes' belief that he helped smuggle El Chapo

In October 2018, Fuentes tried to help smugglers import heroin and meth into the U.S. by explaining them how to conceal it in a vehicle. He wanted a bribe of US$20,000 to help get the load through, and said that he wanted it soon because he needed to "pay rent".

This agreement never came to fruition and Fuentes was arrested in 24 October 2018. He was sentenced last month to 2.5 years in prison.

Sources: Milenio; Nogales International


  1. Tier 1 Special Agent from the Tactical Ditachment of Gente Nueva Operators.

  2. 20K per car? Two cars and that’s the CBP’s yearly salary. Not to mention these 20K are tax free so...

  3. Stupid move, just 2.5 years, arrested in 2018 so he is out soon. Better to give him at least 5 years.

    1. Crazy right? He was technically planning to move loads into the US. That is conspiracy with intent to distribute. He got lucky for such a low sentence. The problem for him now is finding a good job once he’s out.

  4. This goof either had a bad gambling problem or a drug problem- or both


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