Border Patrol Agent Accused Of Smuggling Immigrants

Ortiz Allegedly Used Fake Birth Certificate

A Border Patrol agent accused of using a fake birth certificate to get hired, then helping to smuggle illegal immigrants through his area, will be held without bail until at least Wednesday, a judge ruled Friday.

Oscar Antonio Ortiz, 28, was charged with falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen and conspiring to bring illegal immigrants into the United States.

According to court documents, Ortiz is a Mexican citizen who claimed he was born in Chicago to get a job with the Border Patrol.

Authorities later began secretly recording calls on two cell phones used by Ortiz and another unidentified Border Patrol agent.

They were overheard allegedly talking about smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States through their area of operations at the border east of the Tecate Port of Entry, according to the probable cause statement.

On May 3, Ortiz and the other agent allegedly discussed how much they should charge someone for their assistance in smuggling immigrants through their area.

On May 20, the other Border Patrol agent allegedly told a family member that he and Ortiz were smuggling 30 to 50 illegal immigrants at a time.

The other Border Patrol agent told the family member, "We don't do anything, just clear the way, and we get $300 per head," according to the probable cause statement.

Court documents did not indicate whether the other agent has been arrested.

A check of the birth certificate Ortiz gave the Border Patrol in October 2001 revealed it belonged to someone else, according to the statement of probable cause.

Magistrate Judge Anthony Battaglia told Ortiz in a brief court appearance that a preliminary hearing would be held on Aug. 18 unless a grand jury handed down an indictment.

Ortiz did not enter pleas to the charges but was informed of them and had a lawyer appointed to represent him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alana Wong moved to have Ortiz held without bail, citing his risk of flight and a danger to the public.

The prosecutor said Ortiz has resigned from the Border Patrol.

Because the case involves secret wiretaps, Battaglia scheduled bail arguments for Wednesday to give attorneys on both sides time to prepare.

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