Border Patrol Agent Jose Carmelo Magaña Accepted Bribes to Allow Illegal Aliens to be Smuggled Through His Checkpoint, Sentenced to Minimum 37 Months in Prison

Law Fuel:  Arizona Customs Officer and Others Indicted for Conspiracy to Bring Illegal Aliens into US (June 4 2008)

A federal grand jury returned a 22-count indictment yesterday against Jose Carmelo Magana, 44, of Yuma, Ariz.; Ana Calderon, 28, of San Luis, Ariz.; and Jesus Gastelum-Rodriguez, 41; Guadalupe Milan de Gastelum, 38; and Brenda Covarrubias, 39, all of San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico. All were arrested in the Yuma area in May 2008 by officials of the United States Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The indictment alleges that between October 3, 2007 and May 12, 2008, Magana, Covarrubias, Calderon, Gastelum-Rodriguez and Milan de Gastelum conspired to bring illegal aliens into the U.S. It is also alleged that Covarrubias, Calderon and Gastelum-Rodriguez and Milan de Gastelum bribed a public official and that Magana, an officer employed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, accepted bribes as a public official. The charges and applicable penalties are listed in the chart below. In determining an actual sentence, the assigned U.S. District Judge will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. Judges, however, are not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

Defendant Counts Charged Penalty (per count)
Jose Carmelo Magana 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 19, 20, 22 5 yrs/$250,000 (Ct. 1)

10 yrs/$250,000, 3 yrs minimum mandatory (Cts. 2 and 3)

15 yrs/$250,000, 5 yrs minimum mandatory (Cts. 6, 7, 10, 13, 16, 17 and 20)

15 yrs/$250,000 (Cts. 5, 9 12, 15, 19 and 22)

U.S. Attorney’s Office Press Release:  Former Customs and Border Protection Officer Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes to Allow Illegal Aliens to Enter the U.S.  (Oct 21 2009)

Former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Jose Carmelo Magana, 46, of Yuma, Ariz., pleaded guilty today on charges of Attempting to Bring Illegal Aliens into the United States and Acceptance of a Bribe by a Public Official. Sentencing for Magana is set before U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg on January 19, 2010.

Magana admitted to have participated in an agreement with Brenda Covarrubias, Ana Bertha Calderon, Jesus Gastelum-Rodriguez, Guadalupe Milan de Gastelum and others, to smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S. through a lane at the San Luis Port of Entry in San Luis, Ariz., staffed at the time by Magana. Magana admitted to accepting a bribe to allow Gastelum-Rodriguez and Milan de Gastelum to bring a person the defendants believed to be an illegal alien into the United States through his lane without proper inspection on November 13, 2007. Magana further admitted that Covarrubias and Calderon collected smuggling fees and routed a portion of those fees back to him in return for his failure to perform his duties as a Customs and Border Protection officer. Covarrubias, Calderon, Gastelum-Rodriguez and Milan de Gastelum previously entered guilty pleas to a charge of Conspiracy to Bring Illegal Aliens to the United States in the case.

The maximum penalty for Attempting to Bring Illegal Aliens into the U.S. is 10 years in federal prison with a minimum mandatory penalty of three years in prison. The maximum penalty for Acceptance of a Bribe by a Public official is 15 years in prison. Both charges carry a maximum fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to three years. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Teilborg will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

Yuma Sun:  Former customs officer pleads guilty to smuggling charges (Oct 21 2009)

A former U.S. Customs Officer has pleaded guilty to charges that he helped smuggle illegal aliens into the country through the San Luis Port of Entry.  Jose Carmelo Magana, 46, of Yuma, entered guilty pleas in federal court on Wednesday to charges of attempting to bring illegal aliens into the United States and acceptance of a bribe by a public official.

Phoenix Business Journal:  Former Border Patrol officer pleads guilty to taking bribes  (Oct 21 2009)

A former U.S. Border Patrol officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting bribes from immigrant smugglers at the U.S.-Mexico border.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona said Jose Carmelo Magana, 46, took bribes in November 2007 from smugglers bringing illegal immigrants from Mexico into the U.S. through the border crossing at San Luis, Ariz.  Magana lives in Yuma and no longer works for the Border Patrol.

Examiner:  Former San Luis CBP Officer pleads guilty to accepting bribes (Oct 21 2009)

Jose Carmelo … Magana admitted to have participated in an agreement with Brenda Covarrubias, Ana Bertha Calderon, Jesus Gastelum-Rodriguez, Guadalupe Milan de Gastelum and others, to smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S. through a lane at the San Luis Port of Entry in San Luis, Ariz., staffed at the time by Magana. Magana admitted to accepting a bribe to allow Gastelum-Rodriguez and Milan de Gastelum to bring a person the defendants believed to be an illegal alien into the United States through his lane without proper inspection on November 13, 2007. Magana further admitted that Covarrubias and Calderon collected smuggling fees and routed a portion of those fees back to him in return for his failure to perform his duties as a Customs and Border Protection officer. Covarrubias, Calderon, Gastelum-Rodriguez and Milan de Gastelum previously entered guilty pleas to a charge of Conspiracy to Bring Illegal Aliens to the United States in the case.

Riverside Chronicle:  Former Customs and Border Protection Officer Pleads Guilty to Bribery Charges (Oct 23 2009)

San Francisco Telegram:  Former Customs and Border Protection Officer Pleads Guilty to Bribery Charges (Oct 23 2009)

U.S. Attorney’s Office Press Release: Former Customs and Border Protection Officer Sentenced to Federal Prison (Jan 22 2010)

Jose Carmelo Magaña, 46, of Yuma, Ariz., was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg to 37 months in federal prison, to be followed by a term of three years of supervised release. Magaña was also ordered to pay a $4,000 fine and to forfeit $5,100 to the United States in a companion civil case. Magaña pleaded guilty on October 21, 2009, to charges of Attempting to Bring Illegal Aliens to the United States and Acceptance of a Bribe by a Public Official.

As part of his guilty plea, Magaña, a former Officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations, admitted that he participated in an agreement with codefendants Brenda Covarrubias, Ana Bertha Calderon, Jesus Gastelum-Rodriguez, Guadalupe Milan de Gastelum and others, to smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S. through the lane Magaña staffed at the San Luis Port of Entry in San Luis, Arizona. Magaña accepted a bribe to allow Gastelum-Rodriguez and Milan de Gastelum to bring a person the defendants believed to be an illegal alien into the United States through his lane without proper inspection on November 13, 2007. Magana further admitted that Covarrubias and Calderon collected smuggling fees and routed a portion of those fees back to him in return for his failure to perform his duties as a Customs and Border Protection officer.


Covarrubias, Calderon, Gastelum-Rodriguez and Milan de Gastelum all pleaded guilty to a charge of Conspiracy to Bring Illegal Aliens to the United States in the case. Milan de Gastelum received a sentence of time served on October 29, 2009. Gastelum-Rodriguez received a sentence of time served on December 7, 2009. Both Milan de Gastelum and Gastelum-Rodriguez were detained from the date of their arrests, May 12, 2008, through the time of their respective sentencings. Calderon was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on November 30, 2009. Covarrubias is scheduled to be sentenced on April 26, 2010.

Phoenix New Times:  Customs Officer Bribed to Let Immigrants into United States Illegally Gets Minimum Prison Time (Jan 22 2010)

Jose Carmelo Magana, 46, of Yuma, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg to serve 37 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for taking bribes to allow immigrants to enter the country illegally.

Magana pleaded guilty to attempting to bring illegal aliens into the United States and acceptance of a bribe by a public official on October 21, after entering into an agreement with Mexican and American smugglers to allow immigrants to funnel unchecked through his lane at the San Luis entry point.

According to the Justice Department, Jesus Gastelum-Rodriguez, Guadalupe Milan de Gastelum, and others paid Magana to allow them to pass through his lane at the border checkpoint as they accompanied a man they all new to be an illegal immigrant on November 13, 2007.  The two men were paid smuggling fees, a portion of which they gave to Magana.

Yuma Sun:  Former Customs officer sentenced (Jan 22 2010)

A former U.S. Customs officer was sentenced to just over three years in prison for helping smuggle illegal aliens through the San Luis Port of Entry.  Jose Carmelo Magaña, 46, of Yuma, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg to 37 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.   Magaña also was ordered to pay a $4,000 fine and to forfeit $5,100 to the United States in a companion civil case.

KVOA:  Former customs officer in Ariz. sent to prison (Jan 22 2010)

Wire Update:  Former Yuma, AZ U.S. Border Protection officer sentenced to prison (Jan 22 2010)

As part of his guilty plea, [Jose Carmelo] Magaña, a former Officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, admitted that he participated in an agreement with co-defendants Brenda Covarrubias, Ana Bertha Calderon, Jesus Galstelum-Rodriguez, Guadalupe Milan de Gastelum, and others to smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S. through the lane Magnaña staffed at the San Luis Port of Entry in San Luis, Arizona.

Magaña accepted a bribe to allow Gastelum-Rodriguez and Milan de Gastelum to bring a person the defendants believed to be an illegal alien into the United States through his lane without proper inspection in November 2007. Magana further admitted that Covarrubias and Calderon collected smuggling fees and routed a portion of those fees back to him in return for his failure to perform his duties as a Customs and Border Protection officer.

Examiner:  Badge for sale – the tales of MICE and men (Aug 13 2010)

Jose Carmelo Magana, 46, a Customs and Border Protection officer at the San Luis, Arizona border crossing was sentenced on January 21, 2010 by U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg. He was facing a possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000.00 dollar fine. After pleading guilty to alien smuggling and acceptance of a bribe by a public official, Magana was ordered to pay a $4,000.00 dollar fine and sentenced to the lowest sentence allowed by law – 37 months in prison.

Arizona Daily Star: Border corruption cases grow:  Patrol’s surge in hiring, drug gangs’ stepped-up infiltration efforts seen as factors (Aug 16 2011)

Customs and Border Protection officer Jose Carmelo Magaña, 46, pleaded guilty to taking money to allow illegal immigrants through his lane at the San Luis Port of Entry in 2007, court records show.

Huffington Post:  Immigration Restrictions Incentivize Corruption  (March 13 2012)

As an example, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer Jose Carmelo Magaña took money to allow unauthorized immigrants through his lane at the San Luis Port of Entry in 2007. Cases like his are expected when there are such large monetary benefits to breaking administrative rules.

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