Border Patrol Agent in court for allegedly harboring illegal immigrants
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A U.S. Border Patrol agent accused of harboring illegal immigrants, including his father, at his home in San Ysidro was arraigned Wednesday in federal court on multiple charges.
Marcos Gerardo Manzano Jr., 26, was arrested Monday at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station, according to the FBI.
Shortly before sunrise Tuesday, a federal SWAT team raided Manzano's house in the 3600 block of Shooting Star Drive and arrested Jose Alfredo Garrido-Morena, also 26, who's believed to be an illegal immigrant.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath told Magistrate Judge Louisa Porter Wedensday that agents serving a search warrant at the home found 61 grams of methamphetamine and paraphernalia to package and distribute the drug.
Garrido-Morena was found in an underground room that had been dug in the backyard, the prosecutor said.
The bunker — about 7 to 8 feet high — was covered by a concrete slab and was accessible by a wooden ladder, McGrath said.
McGrath said Manzano Jr. is a U.S. citizen and had been a Border Patrol agent since 2007.
Separately, the prosecutor said a misdemeanor DUI conviction was not reported to his boss.
Defense attorney Frank Ragen said Manzano Jr. moved out of the Shooting Star home when his parents divorced, but recently moved back in.
But McGrath said Manzano Jr. — the owner of the property — had been there as far back as September 2009.
The prosecutor, arguing unsuccessfully for a $200,000 bond, said Manzano Jr. had a girlfriend in Mexico and substantial ties to that country.
Porter set bail at $75,000 and said Manzano Jr. had to restrict his travel to the Southern District of California.
Garrido-Morena was arraigned on a charge of being a deported alien found in the United States and his bail set at $40,000.
McGrath told the judge that Garrido-Morena had three misdemeanor convictions and one felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance.
According to a federal complaint, Garrido-Morena had been living at the address since at least November along with Manzano Jr. and the accused agent's 46-year-old father, Marcos Gerardo Manzano Sr.
The elder Manzano, who faces federal immigration-violation charges in the case, remains at large, according to the FBI.
In addition to harboring undocumented immigrants, Manzano Jr. allegedly lied to a fellow Border Patrol agent when asked while on duty if he knew the whereabouts of his father, who was convicted four years ago in a U.S. court of possessing marijuana for sale and was twice deported to his home country of Mexico.
A preliminary hearing for Manzano Jr. and Garrido-Morena was set for Jan. 25.