2nd Calif. border agent jailed on smuggling charges

Richard Marosi, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved
SAN DIEGO- A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer was arrested Thursday on alien-smuggling charges, the second member of the agency this week to be accused of working with Mexican-based groups to sneak illegal immigrants into the country.

Richard Elizalda, a nine-year veteran, waved through migrant-laden cars at his inspection lane at the San Ysidro Port of Entry for as much as $1,000 per illegal immigrant, according to U.S. authorities. He was arrested along with seven other suspected members of the ring, which authorities say tried to smuggle migrants into the U.S. on numerous occasions over the last two years.

This week's cases, though unrelated, underline continuing corruption at the ports of entry despite efforts to curtail it. With traditional smuggling routes impeded by increased enforcement along one of the most heavily guarded areas of the border, traffickers are seeking other ways to get their loads across, authorities say.

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