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Prosecutor calls Border Patrol agent the founder of smuggling ring as corruption trial begins
SAN DIEGO (AP) ¯¯¯ A federal prosecutor says a former Border Patrol agent who served as an agency spokesman founded a human smuggling ring in San Diego and made his older brother and fellow agent one of his early recruits.
The prosecutor spoke about Raul Villarreal (VEE-uh-ray-AL) Friday afternoon in opening statements of a trial in one of the highest-profile corruption cases involving the Border Patrol. Raul and his brother Fidel have pleaded not guilty to human smuggling, bribery and witness tampering.
Raul allegedly founded the smuggling ring in April 2005 ¯¯¯ the month before an informant tipped U.S. authorities. The government says the brothers helped smuggle hundreds of immigrants across the border.
Defense attorneys said in their opening statements that the government case rests on unreliable witnesses.