A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent convicted of helping a Mexican national with multiple felony convictions reenter the country illegally was sentenced Monday to one year and one day in prison, officials said.
Felix Cisneros Jr., 44, was convicted in April of four felony counts, including conspiracy to aid and assist the entry into the U.S. of a Mexican national convicted of an aggravated felony, falsifying records in a federal investigation and making false statements.
The Murrieta resident is an 11-year veteran of ICE and has been suspended indefinitely from the agency, the Department of Justice said. As an ICE agent, Cisneros worked undercover and investigated money laundering as well as human and narcotics trafficking, according to court records.
The man Cisneros helped — Santiago Garcia-Gutierrez — was a lawful permanent resident of the United States, but he had been barred from legally entering the country because of prior criminal convictions and an outstanding warrant for his arrest from the Burbank Police Department, court documents show.
Garcia-Gutierrez was working for Levon Termendzhyan, a reported crime leader in the oil and gas industry, and had traveled to Mexico to negotiate business transactions, according to court documents. When he tried to reenter the U.S. in July 2013, he was detained at Los Angeles International Airport and his passport and green card were confiscated. Still, he was allowed to remain in the country temporarily, pending his criminal case.
He later was asked to return to Mexico by Termendzhyan to negotiate a business deal, but without his passport, Garcia-Gutierrez could not travel.
Cisneros helped Garcia-Gutierrez retrieve his passport by coordinating a meeting with a Customs officer at LAX “likely through deception,” according to FBI Special Agent Brian Adkins. Cisneros convinced the officer to return Garcia-Gutierrez’s passport after saying he was a confidential informant, Adkins said in a federal affidavit.
In September 2013, after obtaining his passport, Garcia-Gutierrez traveled to Mexico City. When he later flew back to LAX, Cisneros persuaded Customs officers to allow Garcia-Gutierrez to reenter the U.S., Adkins said.
Cisneros accepted Dodgers playoff tickets from Garcia-Gutierrez in exchange for his help, court records show.
The Department of Justice said Cisneros also lied about his relationship with Garcia-Gutierrez during his employment with ICE.