Trio accused of selling immigrant information; faces bribery charges

A federal grand jury has indicted a classification clerk, senior program director and corrections officer from two Willacy County detention centers alleging they sold immigration detainee roster lists to an unnamed attorney in exchange for cash.

The United States Attorney’s Office announced the charges against two men and a woman in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

Benito Barrientez, 42, of Lyford; Damian Ortiz, 30, of Weslaco; and Exy Adelaida Gomez, 42, of Los Fresnos, were arrested Wednesday and charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery, the news release stated.

According to federal officials, Barrientez and Ortiz worked at the Willacy County Regional Detention Center as a classification clerk and a senior program director while Gomez worked at the El Valle Detention Center as a correction officer. Those facilities are in Raymondville.

Barrientez, Ortiz and Gomez are accused of obtaining immigration detainee roster lists from the Port Isabel Detention Center and the El Valle Detention Center and selling the information.

The trio, who are accused in a five-count indictment, are suspected of having sold lists containing the names, dates of birth, country of origin and other information to an unnamed local attorney.

“The indictment alleges the attorney would then use that information to attempt to solicit the detainees to hire his firm in immigration proceedings,” the news release states.

The USAO did not release any information about when the alleged bribery took place, for how long it allegedly took place or the amount of profit the trio earned from the alleged scheme.

The indictment wasn’t available in PACER, the federal court database, by deadline.

Barrientez, Ortiz and Gomez face up to 15 years in federal prison on the bribery charges and up to five years on conspiracy, as well as a possible maximum fine of $250,000 for each charge, according to the news release.

The suspects are expected to make initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Morgan at 10 a.m. Thursday morning, the news release states.