A former Border Patrol agent and his wife, who also own the restaurant Burger Patrol, were arrested Thursday on charges of conspiracy to transport illegal immigrants.An indictment unsealed in federal court Friday alleges that on three occasions in 2007, David Cruz, 32, and Susana Lopez-Portillo De Cruz, 35, conspired to transport illegal immigrants by motor vehicle.
The indictment alleges that the couple transported 10 illegal immigrants on Jan. 23 and eight on July 21.
David Cruz served as a Border Patrol agent from March 2002 until he resigned in September 2007, said Greg Salinas, an agency spokesman. Salinas could not confirm if the last of the alleged incidents, which the indictment states occurred Sept. 7 and involved the transportation of seven illegal immigrants, happened while Cruz was still an agent.
Another defendant, 39-year-old Bertha Alicia Esquivel, was arrested Wednesday and indicted on similar charges, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count, according to the news release.
David Cruz served at the Laredo North station, Salinas said. Neither he nor Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, could say whether or not the alleged incidents occurred while Cruz was on duty.
Burger Patrol, at 1201 Victoria St., within sight of the Webb County Justice Center and the U.S. Courthouse, displays a large parody of the U.S. Border Patrol logo. The Burger Patrol logo features the silhouette of a family running, a hamburger and the words “Department of Hunger Suppression Custom Burger Preparation.” The words are a reference to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Customs and Border Protection, often abbreviated as DHS/CPB.
Patrons are encouraged to write on the six-table-restaurant’s walls. Many of the messages scrawled on the walls are critical of U.S. immigration policies.
During business hours, speakers outside the restaurant blare music, and a mannequin in a Border Patrol uniform guards the door.
No one answered the phone at Burger Patrol late Friday afternoon.
The three defendants in the case were held without bond, pending a detention hearing Thursday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.