A veteran U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent was accused this week of working with an organized crime figure to help a Mexican national with multiple convictions reenter the country illegally.
Felix Cisneros was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of a felony count of aiding and assisting an inadmissible alien to enter the United States, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.
The 42-year-old Murrieta resident had worked with ICE for 10 years and was assigned to the agency’s Homeland Security Investigations office in the Inland Empire, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
Cisneros worked as an undercover agent and investigated money laundering as well as human and narcotics trafficking, according to court records.
He was contacted in 2013 by a key figure of a criminal organization based in Southern California to assist the unidentified Mexican national, according to FBI Special Agent Brian Adkins, who wrote the federal affidavit.
At the time, the man was working for the organized crime leader in the oil and gas industry, and had traveled to Mexico to negotiate business transactions, Adkins said.
When the man tried to reenter the U.S. in July 2013, he was detained at Los Angeles International Airport and his passport was confiscated because of an arrest warrant for fraud, which was issued by the Burbank Police Department, according to Adkins.
Because the man was ineligible to enter the country, he was temporarily allowed to remain in the U.S. for 90 days, Adkins wrote. The man was then ordered to appear at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection deferred inspections office in Los Angeles.
The Mexico native was a legal permanent resident of the U.S. but had multiple criminal convictions for financial fraud, Adkins wrote. The man also admitted to bribing a politician as well as a state prosecuting agency to replace a prosecutor who was investigating an associate of the organized crime figure, the special agent said.
The financial fraud conviction would have barred the Mexican national from entering the U.S., Adkins said.
A month later, according to Adkins, the crime figure asked the man to return to Mexico again to negotiate an oil and gas deal.
But there was a problem.
The man didn’t have his passport.
That’s when Cisneros coordinated a meeting “likely through deception” between the man and a Customs and Border Protection officer at LAX, according to Adkins, who said he believes Cisneros convinced the officer to return the passport after claiming the man was a confidential informant and witness in court proceedings.
After obtaining his passport, the man traveled to Mexico City and later flew back to LAX.
According to Adkins, Cisneros contacted Customs and Border Protection officers and persuaded them to allow the man to reenter the U.S.
Adkins’ affidavit included call logs and instant messages of alleged conversations between Cisneros and the man before and after the business trip.
If Cisneros is convicted, he could face 10 years in federal prison.