On a fateful day in 2002, Castillo found himself chatting with Damian and Damian's friend, Raul Portillo, a sergeant in the Arizona Army National Guard.

Portillo offered Castillo an opportunity to make easy money by joining them in working for Mexican drug smugglers. Castillo initially rebuffed the offer, even though his brother was part of the conspiracy.

"We've done it before, and it's on the up-and-up," Portillo told Castillo, trying to assuage the agent's fears. Castillo mulled the offer for two weeks and eventually agreed to help out.

U.S. Border Patrol Agent Eric Cantu stands at the U.S.-Mexico border, marked here by a fence of steel poles to keep out cars.
Monica Alonzo
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Eric Cantu stands at the U.S.-Mexico border, marked here by a fence of steel poles to keep out cars.
A Border Patrol truck advertising the federal agency during a Customs and Border Protection job fair in Tucson.
Monica Alonzo
A Border Patrol truck advertising the federal agency during a Customs and Border Protection job fair in Tucson.

Portillo introduced Castillo to drug-trafficking contacts he recently had made, and on April 2, 2002, Castillo flew to California to meet with the contacts' "uncle," presumably a higher-ranking cartel member. The next stop was a yacht, where they discussed how Castillo might get involved in the trade and recruit others.

He would be paid a bonus if he brought in other agents, they told him.

Although Castillo agreed to join the criminal ring, he wasn't sold on the idea. He was reluctant to recruit, saying he wouldn't know how to approach someone with such an offer. He expressed concern about how the drug smugglers would send vehicles through his lane.

Castillo was handed an envelope containing $1,000 — an advance, they told him — which they said he was free to keep even if he chose to back out.

Neither Castillo, his brother, Damian, nor Portillo knew that they were actually dealing with FBI undercover agents posing as Mexican drug smugglers.

Dismissing his moral dilemma, Castillo allowed what he believed were two loads of cocaine to pass through his lane on April 12, 2002, at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales. Four months later, he sold immigration documents to an FBI agent to allow alleged illegal immigrants into the United States.

Castillo did wind up recruiting somebody: Raphael Hernandez, an Arizona Department of Corrections employee who agreed to transport drugs.

As the network of corruption grew, Castillo served as a scout in March 2003 to ensure safe delivery of a drug shipment through Nogales. On the same day, he was asked to drive a load across a border checkpoint.

He repeatedly told an undercover agent that he didn't want to go through with the delivery because dogs at the border checkpoint would discover the drugs. Testing his limits, the agent told Castillo several times that the dogs would be removed and that he had paid another dirty customs officer $5,000 to make sure Castillo made it safely across.

Finally, Castillo — who had accepted about $32,000 in bribes — agreed and made his way through the checkpoint, where he was arrested.

Castillo was convicted in the conspiracy and sentenced to five years in prison in May 2007.

Building a case against Portillo, the 38-year-old National Guard sergeant who lured Castillo into the drug ring, took much longer.

On January 2002, a few months before pulling Castillo into the conspiracy, Portillo had met with the undercover agents, who he believed were drug traffickers, and offered to move the organization's product.

In February 2002, Portillo drove cocaine to Las Vegas from Tucson in his official government vehicle. He wore his Army-issued uniform and carried his military identification to make sure the white powder made it safely to its destination. He did the same in April 2002, only this time driving the powder to Tucson from Nogales. He pocketed $12,000 for the trips — and had gotten an extra $2,000 for recruiting Castillo.

Although an arrest warrant was issued for Portillo in 2006, investigators didn't capture him until last May. He was arraigned and inexplicably released on "personal recognizance," after the suspected drug dealer promised to show up for all his court dates.

That didn't happen, and Portillo is on the lam.

In his absence, a federal grand jury in Tucson handed down a 10-count indictment against him in September on charges of conspiracy, bribery, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

"With more and more security, technology, and other means to protect our country, smugglers and criminals are changing the way they do business," Langwell says. "One way to do that is to have agents on the take."

She says nearly all the agents working the border carry out their assignments with integrity but that the "ones taking bribes to allow smuggling groups [to operate] are especially dangerous, given all the terrorist threats we face in this global community.

"For those who sell out their country for a few thousand dollars, it's especially troubling."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
39 comments
Bobby
Bobby

We know Monica, its' always about the "corrupt", Americans, never about the corrupt Mexicans. Nothing new here.

Luv82hotrod
Luv82hotrod

shoot a few of the illeagles and smugglers and leave theire bodies right there by the fence. that might stop some of them. problem solved

malapai
malapai

What a flock of ignorant assholes.

John Swanson
John Swanson

Regarding your article about drinking age in the USA.Ware do you get the figure of age 24 in some states?it is 21 in all states. There is no such thing as 24yrs old drinking age here.If your so concerned plz check ur facts THANK YOU. this is for TO A CONCERNED CITIZEN

malasangre
malasangre

"wide spread array and disillusions." that does sound scary.wtf is it?

JasonTodd Ready
JasonTodd Ready

Thank you for highlighting corrupt federal employees complicit in the narco-terrorist invasion of our nation: Micheal Angelo Antondo, Yamilkar Fierros, Jovana Samaniego Deas, Raul Portillo, Abel Canales, Luis Carlos Vasquez, Raquel Esquivel, Margarita Crispin... This article only further reinforces the prudent position that Latinos are a national security risk to our country and should be placed under far more scrutiny than their Anglo counterparts.

Hrobster
Hrobster

Most Americans, are in complete AGREEMENT with you, whether you know it or not. It's our corrupt govenrment, intent on merging this blessed country with one of the most corrupt nations in the enitire world. How many heads got chopped off today in Narco state, and when is it going to come here.

Richard Winston
Richard Winston

Jeeze, Hitler, why don't you just put them in concentration camps?! You're the kind of cracker asshole I worry about going crazy and shooting up the post office or a mcdonald's.

Hrobster
Hrobster

He isn't Hitler but you sound like and anti-American leftist progressive buffoon.

Gwmwllc
Gwmwllc

Two six foot high fences, no barb wire on top. Place them 100 yards apart on the US side of the border. Warning signs on the fences every 200 feet. AND LAND MINES IN BETWEEN THE FENCES. Problem solved.

Sherri
Sherri

this is months old, and the agent got busted and arrested...he was an idiot...and this is not as common as the illegal mexican drug runners and human traffickers want you to believe...there are corrupt people in EVERY organization...let's not be ignorant people...and most agents working the border actually do an amazing job...the only thing hindering them is all of the "political correct red tape" and protecting the rights of those who come illegally bringing drugs, trafficking, etc. and most of those get a slap on the wrist and sent home and guess who doesn't get the support they should? huh...yup border patrol.

Whatever People
Whatever People

Ummm, did you really think we had a problem because they have been keeping our borders safe for the last several decades?

King
King

Alcohol makes you do stupid things not weed asshole. How many people have you heard of that have gambled there life savings away from smoking a joint? How many dwi related deaths are attributed to marijuana use compared to alcohol. Stupid people like you is why we have issues in this world.

Enuf Istoomuch
Enuf Istoomuch

Okay, so I am not surprised that some percentage of cops go bad. That much is human nature. I cannot ignore that, at the same time, other cops caught them or turned them in.

The measure needed here is one of the rate of bad to good.

The action needed here is to fix whatever is broke, to improve not tear down.

Salvatore Scialabba III
Salvatore Scialabba III

My Husband is in New Mexico Jail and has been there for eight months due to the feds acussing him of Consipiring with the intent to distrubit 266 pounds of marijuana when he never had anymarijuana or anything that would make them think he had it. Tell me how bad is our goverment when they are putting people in prison for 10 yrs so they themselfs can allow shipments of drugs to go through while they are destracting the real cops until the bigger shipments can get through with no hassel.... SHUT THE GOVERMENT DOWN BEFORE WE ALL END UP IN PRISON.....

Salvatore Scialabba III
Salvatore Scialabba III

My Husband is in New Mexico Jail and has been there for eight months due to the feds acussing him of Consipiring with the intent to distrubit 266 pounds of marijuana when he never had any of it in his car or anything that would make them think he had it in his car. Tell me how bad is our goverment when they are putting people in prison for 10 yrs so they themselfs can allow shipments of drugs to go through while they are destracting the real cops until the bigger shipments can get through with no hassel.... SHUT THE GOVERMENT DOWN BEFORE WE ALL END UP IN PRISON.....

Chuy930
Chuy930

Get rid or waive the 38yr max age limit for federal law enforcement for healthy active over 38yr old retired military veterans who still want to continue to serve their country. This will help with more mature and professional minded personnel to take on the border and whatever challenges it poses. They have the experience leading troops, coordinating complex operations, and more importantly very patriotic! A 20yr military veteran has already proven his loyalty. That should curtail a lot of these issues, my two pennies, shiny or not.

no name
no name

put American troops on the border and within a few months the same thing will happen...one has to do with the cost of living, two the wages paid, and the impression that the only successful in the country are wealthy and money is power....

Stakman
Stakman

Maybe.... just maybe, we don't hire Hispanics to work the border????? Yamilkar Fierros, Jovana Samaniego Deas, Raul Portillo, Abel Canales, Luis Carlos Vasquez, Jovana Deas, Raquel Esquivel, Diego Esquivel, Margarita Crispin.... seems to be a common thread.... hmmmm

Marcy
Marcy

So the Federal government should violate the US Constitution by discriminating in the hiring of people who have Hispanic names?

Fc
Fc

How is marijuana worse? or is it? Why is marijuana illegal, but alcohol is not?

Ccainm
Ccainm

worse than what?

Guest
Guest

They love to dish the crap whenever they can on the border patrol and the American people but they don't report half of the heinous crimes that illegal aliens commit. We want to know if a crime any crime that was committed by an illegal alien!!!!! TELL US!!!

Jason
Jason

The Border Patrol isn't corrupt, they are just stupid for knowingly allowing Mexican drug smugglers into the United States without question.

As for the Mexicans, they need to work with the United States to resolve border issues, border security, immigration, the criminal illegals, etc. It is the only way to resolve issues plaguing both the United States and Mexico.

Bobby
Bobby

When in the hell will you wake the fu.. up. Illegal immigration is "PLAUGING", narco state, illegal immigration is helping to take care of narco states incompetence, and IS PLAUGING AMERICANS. Wake the f up BOY. Where were you when the good Lord handed out the brains???????

Laura
Laura

Yamilkar Fierros, Jovana Samaniego Deas, Raul Portillo, Abel Canales, Luis Carlos Vasquez, Jovana Deas, Raquel Esquivel, Diego Esquivel, Margarita Crispin.... seems to be a common thread.... hmmmm

JESTERJACKSON
JESTERJACKSON

Wow Laura how brilliant of you to notice that a report about the border with MEXICO in a border state where people lived before Arizona was a state might have hispanic last names. ( Kinda like if you were to talk about the border with Canada I would expect more anglo last names.)

Hrobster
Hrobster

Yes, but does any of this criminality coming across the border bother you. That's all we want to know.

Stakman
Stakman

Read the article ass

Petrafan2003
Petrafan2003

Americans are subject to full body scans and such . How about that at the border . and some kind of x-ray machine that can look into vehicles . Or are americans just treated like crap??

malasangre
malasangre

we've had that shit for a long time. do you know what year this is?

Guest
Guest

Evidently, we Americans are just the work horses paying for it all. We need some kind of device that they can detect tunnels too. Get the mining guys in here they'll tell us what needs to be done. Frankly, I pretty tired of all this illegal alien, Anchor Baby crap! We need to End Birthright Citizenship and deport all the illegal aliens no matter if they’re a man, woman or child ASAP! We need the Southern border closed and guarded with the military!!!!! One of the biggest problems is our politicians are lying down and letting the illegal aliens run all over them and America!!! It’s time for the real Americans to stand up and throw the politicians out on their ears! Then take care of this illegal alien problem once and for all.

01JACK
01JACK

I really get a laugh when i read your good article about the border patrol agents busting people for pot.And how good of a job they do,but when SHERRIFF JOE does his job with DOPE AND ILLEGALS it is all wrong.I know he pissed you off,but he is doing the job i voted for him to do.And im not the only one who believes in that.All you guys do is stick up for the poor wet back illegals WHY.You really do not care about the laws,especially LIMONS he is an ass any way.THANKS AND HAVE A GOOD DAY.

Bobby
Bobby

Right on 01 Jack, I couldn't agree more. Only the mexican power groups, like La Raza, Lulac, Mecha, Maldef, and a thousand others, along with their sick leftist enablers, hate the Sheriff. He is doing exactly what a Sheriff is supposed to do. Too bad there aren't a thousand Sheriff Joes in the U.S.

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

o1jack, you must be high! the story isn;t about border agents doing a good job. quite the contrary. plus, joe arpaio is a punk-ass racist loser. he has never done anything that has helped to curb crime in his miserable career. soon he will be political toast, and you can suck some other nazi's dick.

Gray Race
Gray Race

And I get a laugh when I see dipshits like you thinking that Sheriff Joe actually is reducing illegal immigration. I still see wetbacks working in the back of Ranch market and there all over the place. The guy always like being a media whore and waste millions of tax payer money, and don't know why dumbasses like you vote for him? Mostly cause voters like you have IQ of fly.

 
Phoenix Concert Tickets
Loading...