September 27, 2023

Former Texas border agent pleads guilty to hiring undocumented truck drivers


A former U.S. Border Patrol agent who also operated a trucking company in Laredo, Texas, has pleaded guilty to hiring undocumented immigrants as drivers.

Ricardo Gonzalez, 40, and his office manager, Alex Lopez, 33, both of Laredo, entered guilty pleas Monday to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by fraudulently obtaining immigration permits, according to a Monday news release from the Justice Department.

Gonzalez operated a company known as Gonmor Transportation while he was an active Border Patrol agent. 

The multiyear scheme reportedly involved recruiting and hiring undocumented immigrants to work as commercial truck drivers while paying them below market standards due to their citizenship status.

Gonzalez and Lopez began the scheme in 2017 and kept operating it until they were arrested in November, according to the Justice Department. It is unclear how many immigrants were employed as truck drivers.

Gonmor Transportation is headquartered in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, with a mailing address in Laredo, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Gonmor, which was founded in 2015, is currently listed as having three power units and 30 drivers.

The Justice Department did not specify whether Gonzalez was still operating Gonmor Transportation or when he was employed as a Border Patrol agent.

As part of the scheme, Gonzalez’s company reportedly would provide immigrants with a letter to take to one of the U.S.-Mexico ports of entry in Laredo. The letter had information claiming the driver was working for a Mexican trucking company and was requesting an I-94 travel permit to enter the U.S., pick up cargo and return to Mexico.

As part of their respective pleas, each man admitted to knowing the drivers were not working for a Mexican company yet still provided the letter to assist in obtaining the I-94 permit. Once these drivers obtained the permit, Gonmor Transportation paid them to transport cargo within the U.S., in violation of the permit terms.

Gonzalez and Lopez admitted to knowing the people they were hiring as truck drivers were not permitted to legally work in the U.S. The two men also admitted they paid immigrants less because of their status, according to the Justice Department. 

A sentencing date has not been set. Each man faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. Gonzalez and Lopez were permitted to remain out on bond pending sentencing.

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