RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD and ANDREW BECKER
Blue Ridge Now
May 31, 2008
SAN DIEGO — The smuggler in the public service announcement sat handcuffed in prison garb, full of bravado and shrugging off the danger of bringing illegal immigrants across the border.
“Sometimes they die in the desert, or the cars crash, or they drown,” he said. “But it’s not my fault.”
The smuggler in the commercial, produced by the Mexican government several years ago, was played by an American named Raul Villarreal, who at the time was a United States Border Patrol agent and a spokesman for the agency here.
Now, federal investigators are asking: Was he really acting?
Mr. Villarreal and a brother, Fidel, also a former Border Patrol agent, are suspected of helping to smuggle an untold number of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Brazil across the border. The brothers quit the Border Patrol two years ago and are believed to have fled to Mexico.
The Villarreal investigation is among scores of corruption cases in recent years that have alarmed officials in the Homeland Security Department just as it is hiring thousands of border agents to stem the flow of illegal immigration.
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