Earlier this week, Border Patrol agent Marcos Gerardo Manzano Jr. was arrested for reportedly harboring his father, an unauthorized immigrant. Upon investigation of Manzano’s home, however, it was discovered that Manzano Jr. was not only allowing his father to reside in his home, but other suspected undocumented immigrants as well. On top of that information, federal agents have revealed that his home had a secret room.
The hidden room at the 26-year-old agent’s home was accessed by moving a large slab of concrete that hid an eight by seven foot room accessible by climbing down a ladder from ground level. Inside the room, was Alfredo Garrido-Moreno, 26, hiding under a table. Garrido-Moreno was arrested for illegal re-entry to the country after being deported. Wednesday, his bond was set at $40,000.
As investigators continued searching Manzano’s home, they discovered 61 grams of methamphetamine and U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath said a “substantial” amount of narcotics packaging and other materials were found, and as a result, Manzano Jr. could face drug-related charges. The hidden room is believed to have been used to hide unauthorized immigrants and/or drugs.
McGrath said Manzano Jr. has ties to Mexico, where his girlfriend lives, and crosses the border frequently. McGrath added that he had previously been arrested for driving drunk, but never reported it to the Border Patrol Agency.
While U.S. Customs and Border Protection have yet to comment on the case, they did release a statement. Included in that statement was the following:
“We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.”
“Corruption by employees tarnishes our badge and our reputation, brings dishonor to our service and most importantly jeopardizes our border security.”
Tuesday, a U.S. Border Patrol agent was charged with harboring a twice-removed undocumented immigrant, and lying to federal investigators. The immigrant he was harboring? His father.
In the working-class neighborhood of San Ysidro, California, Marcos Gerardo Manzano Jr. allegedly told his father that officers were looking for him, and agreed to let him stay at his home.
Last month, when federal investigators reportedly asked the 26-year-old if he knew where his father was, he said he did not, but admitted he knew his father was a deported felon.
In October of 2006, the father, Marcos Gerardo Manzano Sr, 46, was convicted of a marijuana offense. A few months later, he was deported to Mexico.
According to the complaint against Manzano Jr., his father was seen leaving and arriving at his son’s Southern California home beginning in September 2009. On Monday night, Manzano Jr. was arrested at the Border Patrol station in Imperial Beach. However, Manzano Sr. was not found when a FBI SWAT team raided the Manzano home Tuesday morning. Manzano Sr. is considered a fugitive by the FBI.
Though Manzano Sr. was not in the house when SWAT raided it, another undocumented immigrant staying at the house, Jose Alfredo Garrido-Morena, was found and arrested. Manzano Jr. and Garrido-Morena were being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown San Diego pending their initial appearances in federal court, scheduled for Wednesday.
The Border Corruption Task Force, being led by the FBI, headed the overall investigation, but declined to reveal why they felt it necessary to send a heavily armed SWAT team to the house to serve the warrant.
It has also been reported that during the raid, agents detained another two men, a one-year-old boy, and three women of unknown relation to the defendants.