A former Border Patrol (BP) agent and another individual have entered a guilty plea to employing illegal aliens by fraudulently obtaining immigration permits, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Ricardo Gonzalez, 40, and Alex Lopez, 33, Laredo, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Gonzalez operated a company known as Gonmor Transportation. Lopez was the office manager. Gonzalez was also an active BP agent.
The multi-year scheme involved the company recruiting and hiring non-immigrants to work as commercial truck drivers, but then paid them less due to their citizenship status. As part of the scheme, Gonzalez’s company would provide these new hires with a letter to take to one of the ports of entry in Laredo. The letter had information claiming the driver was working for a Mexican trucking company and was requesting an I-94 travel permit so he could enter the United States, pick up cargo and return to Mexico.
As part of their respective pleas, each admitted to knowing the drivers were not working for this Mexican company, yet still providing the letter to assist in obtaining the I-94 permit. Once these drivers obtained the permit, Gonmor paid them to transport cargo within the United States, in violation of the permit terms.
A Mexican driver with a valid non-immigrant visa who works for a Mexican transportation company and is paid by them in Mexico may obtain an I-94 at one of the ports of entry. With it, the driver can travel with a load into the United States, go beyond the checkpoints to his or her final destination then return to Mexico. An I-94 does not allow the holder to work in the United States or for a U.S.-based company.
Gonzalez and Lopez admitted to knowing the people they were hiring to drive trucks for the company were not allowed to work in the United States, that the company paid these people less because of their status and that the I-94 permit did not authorize these individuals to work in the United States.
U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña will impose sentencing at a later date. At that time, each faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Gonzalez and Lopez were permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.
Customs and Border Protection – Office of Professional Responsibility conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Bajew is prosecuting the case.