Customs agent accused of selling fake travel permits

LAREDO — A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent arrested on charges alleging that he sold a fake travel permit to a Mexican national made his first court appearance on Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Ramiro Villareal Jr., 27, was arrested Thursday on a charge of accepting bribes for making and delivering fake travel documents, prosecutors said.

During a hearing Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Saldana ordered that Villareal be held on $100,000 bail. It is unclear if the agent has a lawyer.

Prosecutors said Villareal’s alleged crime was discovered on April 30 when a Mexican national leaving the country was found to be traveling with a fake I-94 arrival-departure document. The fake document, prosecutors said, had Villareal’s stamp on it.

A real I-94 shows a legal stay in the U.S. by a foreign national who has shown a passport or border crossing card.

Prosecutors said Villareal had two other fake I-94s with him when he was arrested.

His next court appearance is scheduled for May 15.