Border Patrol agent charged with lying about Mexican drug connections

SAN DIEGO – A U.S. Border Patrol agent has been charged in federal court in San Diego with lying about his relationship to two Mexican drug traffickers, authorities said.

Agent Ramon Delgado, 44, was arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in San Diego. According to an indictment, Delgado told interviewers when applying to be a Border Patrol agent that he did not have any close relationships with any foreign nationals. Federal authorities said they later learned that not only did Delgado lie about his relationships with foreign nationals, but that two of the Mexican citizens he was close to were members of a drug trafficking organization.

Prosecutors did not disclose the nature of the relationships, and the case remained sealed to the public Tuesday morning.

“Any connections to drug traffickers is an obvious red flag, and concealing that connection is even more troubling,” said Adam Braverman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. “U.S. Border Patrol Agents are trusted guardians of public safety and national security. We will go after any who fall short of this high standard, rare though it may be.”

According to federal prosecutors, the indictment unsealed Monday alleges that in October of 2015, Delgado submitted a false response on a standard background investigation required for potential federal agents.

“One of those questions asked whether, in the prior seven years, Delgado had a close and continuing contact with any foreign nationals with whom he was bound by affection, influence, common interests and obligation,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Heyman said. “Delgado stated that he had no such relationships when, in truth, he had a close and continuing relationship with two Mexican nationals who were members of a drug trafficking organization.”

When asked about by federal agents about those relationships in July 2016, Delgado allegedly lied again, claiming he did not know the drug traffickers.

Prosecutors say the traffickers were part of an organization that smuggled methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine into the U.S. and included both U.S. and Mexican citizens. Delgado allegedly maintained “close and extensive” relationships with two of the Mexican citizens.

“I was very disappointed to learn about these allegations when they surfaced,” said San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott. “As with any allegation of misconduct, U.S. Border Patrol has supported the investigators throughout the investigative process and will continue to do so as this case now moves into the prosecution phase.”

Scott said integrity is a core value of Border Patrol agents, who “simply cannot be an agent without it.” He said Delgado’s case is an anomaly.

“The vast majority of U.S. Border Patrol agents carry out their duties every single day with integrity, vigilance, and honor,” Scott said.

Delgado was indicted on a felony charge of making a false statement and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.