A former supervisory Border Patrol agent from Chula Vista pleaded guilty in federal court to abusing his authority to harass and repeatedly detain a man who accused the agent’s brother-in-law of molesting the man’s young son.
Martin Rene Duran, 49, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin McDonald said.
Duran was a supervisory agent at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol station in May 2013 when he created false warnings in a government computer system for the victim, a man identified in court documents only as R.C.
The alerts, which were entered into the principal database used by officers to screen border-crossers, included information that Duran knew to be false against R.C., a U.S. citizen with no known criminal background, McDonald said.
One of the alerts claimed R.C. was linked to a narcotics organization and was known to carry guns, McDonald said. Another alert said R.C. had made threats against Customs and Border Protection officers.
The alerts prompted CBP officers to stop R.C. several times in 2013 as he crossed from Mexico into the U.S., including one time when he and his wife were arrested and separated from their young children for more than two hours.
At least one of the alerts directed border authorities to contact Duran if they stopped R.C.
R.C. had accused Duran’s brother-in-law, Raymundo Estrada Figueroa, of child sexual abuse, according to court documents. Estrada was reportedly having an affair with R.C.’s wife, who was the mother of the boy Estrada allegedly molested.
Estrada has been indicted on six counts involving alleged sexual abuse of two children under 12 years old. His case is still pending.
R.C. told investigators he believed Duran was attempting to pressure him into dropping his accusations against Estrada, McDonald said. Duran admitted in court Thursday that he had R.C. detained so he could question him about the matter involving Estrada.
“This agent used his significant power against someone he was sworn to protect,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said. “He targeted a law-abiding citizen because of a personal vendetta, and for that he will pay a price.”
In February, a jury convicted Duran on seven counts of illegal transportation of firearms and a count of possession of a short-barreled rifle. The guns were found in 2015 at his Chula Vista home during an investigation into the case involving the false alerts.
The guns were purchased in Arizona from 2011 to 2014 with an Arizona driver’s license despite Duran living in Chula Vista.
Duran is scheduled to be sentenced in both cases Sept. 17.
–City News Service
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