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Ex-border officer sentenced for bribery, drug conspiring

SAN DIEGO — A former Customs and Border Protection officer who conspired to allow drugs to be smuggled into the United States through his inspection lanes in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in bribes was sentenced Wednesday in San Diego to 12 years in federal prison.

Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez, 33, a two-year CBP veteran assigned to the Calexico Port of Entry, was convicted last September of conspiracy to import controlled substances and bribery.

San Ysidro Border“While the overwhelming majority of border officers are doing their jobs with vigilance and integrity, we have found that some are not, and we are going to bring to justice every one of these corrupt officials who violate the public’s trust and put our borders at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Ortiz and his accomplice, Victor Manuel Silva Jr., believed they were working for people with ties to a drug trafficking organization when, in fact, they were doing business with undercover agents and federal law enforcement cooperators posing as narcotics traffickers.

Ortiz, 33, accepted $22,000 in bribes and was arrested on Sept. 23, 2010, when he showed up to collect another $30,000 bribe from an informant. Silva, also 33, was arrested the next day.

At trial, the government presented audio recordings of Ortiz discussing the smuggling of narcotics through his inspection lane with Silva and a confidential informant. In two of those conversations, Ortiz made plans to allow the informant to cross five to 12 kilograms of cocaine through his lane in exchange for $20,000 and 15 kilograms or methamphetamine for $30,000.

Silva pleaded guilty in February 2011 to conspiracy to import at least five kilograms of cocaine.

He testified against Ortiz, saying that they both wanted to make as much money as possible.

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