Home Phoenix Press Releases 2011 Border Patrol Agent Indicted for Accepting a Bribe

Border Patrol Agent Indicted for Accepting a Bribe

U.S. Attorney’s Office October 31, 2011
  • District of Arizona (602) 514-7500

TUCSON, AZ—A federal grand jury in Tucson, Ariz. returned a two-count indictment on October 27, 2011, charging United States Border Patrol agent Abel Canales, of Tucson, Arizona, with conspiracy to accept a bribe and acceptance of a bribe.

The indictment alleges that on October 30, 2008, Agent Canales accepted payment in return for allowing a U-Haul which he believed contained illegal contraband to pass through the I-19 Border Patrol checkpoint in Southern Arizona. That morning, a co-conspirator met with an individual, who he believed was a drug dealer and alien smuggler, near exit 17 in Rio Rico, Arizona, to coordinate the passage of a load of narcotics and/or illegal aliens through the I-19 checkpoint. After a phone call with Canales, the co-conspirator instructed the individual who he believed was a drug dealer and alien smuggler to tell the driver of a U-Haul that was purportedly loaded with narcotics or illegal aliens to begin driving northbound on I-19. The co-conspirator positioned his vehicle directly in front of the U-Haul, which was allegedly loaded with narcotics or illegal aliens, and led it to the checkpoint.

After multiple phone calls were exchanged between Canales and the co-conspirator, Canales instructed another Border Patrol agent, who was also working at the checkpoint, to take the co-conspirator’s vehicle to the secondary inspection area. While the co-conspirator’s vehicle was inspected, Canales asked the driver of the U-Haul if he was a U.S. citizen, to which the driver replied, “Buenos Dias”. Without any further questioning or inspection of the U-Haul, Canales waved the driver through the checkpoint onto northbound I-19.

That afternoon, the co-conspirator met with two individuals, who the conspirator believed were the owners of the load in the U-Haul, and received a manila envelope containing $8,000. After several phone calls between Canales and the co-conspirator, at approximately 6:00 p.m., the co-conspirator drove his vehicle to a parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Nogales, Arizona, where he met Canales, who was still wearing his Border Patrol Uniform. Canales exited his truck, approached the driver’s window of the co-conspirator’s vehicle, and returned to his truck with a manila colored envelope.

A conviction for violating Title 18 of the United States Code, Sections 371 and 201(b)(2)(C), carry maximum penalties of five years’ imprisonment and 15 years’ imprisonment respectively, and a $250,000 fine for each offense. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Raner C. Collins 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.

Canales is set to be arraigned on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. before Magistrate Judge, Jaqueline J. Marshall.

An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Eric Markovich and Karen Rolley, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.

CASE NUMBER: CR-11-03747

RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-243(Canales)