Convicted: Calexico CBP Officer Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez Guilty of Accepting Bribes

Another one headed to prison — Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez convicted of accepting $52,000 to allow drugs to pass through his inspection lane at Calexico.

U.S. Department of Justice Press Release:  … complaint charging Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez … (Sept 24 2010)

United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced today the filing of a complaint charging Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez, a Customs and Border Protection Officer (CBPO) assigned to the Calexico Ports of Entry, and Victor Manuel Silva, Jr. with conspiracy to import a controlled substance, bribery and attempt to aid and abet the importation of cocaine and methamphetamine. The defendants were arrested yesterday by agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Professional Responsibility.

According to the complaint, Ortiz-Martinez used his official position at the Calexico Ports of Entry to allow what he believed to be loads of illegal narcotics to enter into the United States through his assigned lanes. In return for his participation, he received cash bribes, which Silva helped arrange. The complaint alleges that Ortiz-Martinez received $22,000 for allowing vehicles he believed to be carrying narcotics to pass through his primary inspection lane on June 3, 2010 and September 21, 2010. The complaint further alleges Ortiz-Martinez was arrested on the morning of September 23, 2010 as he met to receive an additional $30,000 for his assistance with the September 21 vehicle crossing. According to the complaint, the defendants believed they were working for individuals with ties to a drug trafficking organization when, in fact, they were undercover agents and federal law enforcement cooperators posing as narcotics traffickers.

The defendants were arraigned earlier today before United States Magistrate Judge Peter C. Lewis in federal court in El Centro, California. The defendants are next scheduled to be in court on September 28, 2010, at 1:30 p.m. for a detention hearing.

DEFENDANTS Criminal Case No. 10mj9110

  • Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez
  • Victor Manuel Silva, Jr.

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

  • Title 21, United States Code, Section 952, 960 and 963 – Conspiracy to Import Cocaine, Maximum Penalties: 10 Years to Life in Custody; $4,000,000 fine
  • Title 18, United States Code, Sections 201(b)(2) – Bribery, Maximum Penalties: 15 Years in Custody; $250,000 fine (Or 3X the bribe, whichever is greater)
  • Title 21, United States Code, Section 952, 960 – Attempt to Aid and Abet Importation of Cocaine, Maximum Penalties: 10 Years to Life in Custody; $4,000,000 fine
  • Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841, 846 – Attempt to Aid and Abet Importation of Methamphetamine, Maximum Penalties: 10 Years to Life in Custody; $4,000,000 fine

San Diego Union Tribune:  CBP officer charged with bribery, conspiracy (Sept 24 2010)

A Customs and Border Protection Officer stationed in Calexico was one of two men arrested by federal agents Thursday and charged with bribery and conspiracy to smuggle drugs through the port of entry, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.  A court complaint says that the officer, 30-year-old Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz Martinez, took $22,000 in bribes arranged by a second man, Victor Manuel Silva Jr., to allow vehicles he thought were smuggling drugs through the entry lane he was assigned to at the Calexico border crossing.  Ortiz was arrested Thursday as he went to a meeting to pick up what he thought would be $30,000 in bribe money.

L.A. Times:  U.S. border inspector charged with drug conspiracy (Sept 25 2010)

The investigation against [Oscar Osbaldo] Ortiz-Martinez and [Victor Manuel] Silva was triggered in August 2009. Authorities received a tip from an informant who said Silva had approached him about a smuggling scheme, saying he knew a customs inspector, Ortiz-Martinez, who would let drugs through for a fee of $120 per kilo.  Silva, believing that the informant had ties to drug trafficking groups, told him that with a $1,000 advance payment, he “had the green light to cross what you want,” according to the criminal complaint.  Ortiz-Martinez allegedly coordinated the two smuggling attempts carefully, providing his work schedule to the informant so he could know in which lane he was working. When the informant arrived at his inspection booth on the first attempt in June, Ortiz-Martinez allegedly scanned his passport, grinned, and let him through.  Ortiz-Martinez and Silva had apparently known each other for years. Silva said he and Ortiz had once worked together as security guards at an immigration detention facility for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in El Centro.

Fox News:  U.S. Border Official Charged With Bribery in Calif. (Sept 25 2010)

A U.S. border inspector was charged Friday with taking more than $50,000 to wave drug-laden vehicles from Mexico through his lane.  Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez, a Customs and Border Protection officer since 2008, allegedly took $22,000 in June for allowing a Jeep Cherokee that he believed was carrying cocaine to pass through his booth at the border crossing in downtown Calexico, about 120 miles east of San Diego.  Ortiz, 30, took $30,000 for waving through a Ford Lobo he believed to be packed with drugs on Monday, according to the complaint. He was arrested Thursday after allegedly accepting the money from an informant in a Lucky’s supermarket parking lot in neighboring El Centro.

KYMA:  Report: CBP Officer Charged with Bribery (undated)

[ Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez], of El Centro, was charged with bribery, conspiracy and attempting to import cocaine and methamphetamine. If convicted of any of those charges, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Another man, Victor Manuel Silva, was also charged. He allegedly introduced the informant to Ortiz.

Imperial Valley Press:  Bail denied for CBP officer charged with importing drugs through Calexico ports of entry (Oct 2 2010)

A federal judge denied bail Friday to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer charged with conspiring to import a host of narcotics through the ports of entry.  The defendant, Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez, quietly shook his head when U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter C. Lewis at the El Centro federal courthouse said the government’s reasons for detaining Ortiz have not been “sufficiently rebutted” during his bail review hearing.

Imperial Valley Press:  Calexico Port of Entry CBP officer on trial (Sept 6 2012)

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer accused of accepting bribes to allow drugs to come through the Calexico ports of entry is on trial in San Diego federal court this week.
Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez faces multiple counts including conspiracy to import controlled substances, bribery and attempts to aid and abet importation of cocaine and methamphetamine.  Ortiz worked as a CBP officer since 2008 and has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His friend Victor Manuel Silva Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy in February 2011 and is testifying against Ortiz  …  Various audio-recorded conversations related to the alleged crimes occurred as Silva and/or Ortiz met with an informant or undercover officer in places such as the parking lots of Target or Autozone in El Centro.

Imperial Valley Press:  Corrupt CBP officer found guilty (Sept 15 2012)

A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer accused of accepting $52,000 in bribes to allow what he believed to be drugs pass through Calexico Ports of Entry was found guilty late Wednesday in San Diego federal court.  The jury found Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez guilty of bribery and conspiring to import heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine between October 2009 and September 2010.  The drug-related offenses carry minimum terms of 10 years in prison and maximum life imprisonment. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 16.

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