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Texas Border Protection Officer Accused Of Smuggling Immigrants Into US

The Ysleta Port of Entry at the El Paso-Juarez border. (Wbaron via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

A U.S. customs officer on trial this week in El Paso is accused of smuggling people into the country illegally, including immigrants who had been deported.

On Tuesday, witnesses said Lawrence Madrid, a supervisory officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, helped them enter the U.S. through an official port of entry in El Paso without the required documentation in 2010 and 2011.

One witness said Madrid crossed him back after he'd been convicted of car burglary and sent back to his native Mexico. The immigrants said they paid bribes of up to $2,500 to get across.

Madrid, his wife and one other person were indicted in August by a federal grand jury for conspiracy, immigrant smuggling and bribery of a public official.

Witnesses told the defense they hoped they could stay in U.S. after cooperating with the investigation, but said the government didn't give them any guarantees. Madrid and his wife could face ten years or more in prison if convicted.