A veteran Border Patrol agent has been charged with helping smuggle illegal immigrants, the Department of Homeland Security revealed Tuesday, in a case that could become a severe black eye for the department.
Agent Rodney Tolson Jr. would let vehicles he knew had illegal immigrants concealed in them through the checkpoint he manned near Laredo, Texas, prosecutors charged in an indictment handed up last week.
He would let smugglers know which lane of the checkpoint he was manning, then would wave them through without conducting an inspection, and got paid off for his complicity, the indictment charges.
Authorities identified at least six dates in February and March 2019 when the scheme was in operation.
The agent was arrested late last week.
Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees the Border Patrol, said he has been suspended from his duties and said the agency is providing full cooperation with the investigation.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission and expects officers and agents to adhere to the oath they take to uphold and enforce the laws of this country,” the agency said.
The Washington Times reached out to the office of the lawyer for Agent Tolson to ask for a comment but the call was disconnected.
The checkpoint where Agent Tolson was stationed is part of a network of highway checkpoints that act as a secondary border. Illegal immigrants who make it across the international boundary must get by the checkpoints to go deeper into the country.
According to The Washington Times’ database of smuggling payments, migrants will pay as much as $2,500 just to get through a checkpoint, as part of total fees that can top $10,000 for the entire trip into the U.S.
The indictment doesn’t say how much Agent Tolson was paid, but The Times database shows drivers who smuggle through checkpoints regularly collect $1,000 per person or more.
Agent Tolson’s arrest is the latest sting for CBP this month.
Two weeks ago, a CBP officer who manned a port of entry between Mexico and Laredo pleaded guilty to helping smuggle a woman back and forth into the U.S. to work as her nanny.