LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A former immigration agent from Riverside County was sentenced today to a year and a day in federal prison for helping a Mexican national with multiple convictions re-enter the country illegally.
Felix Cisneros Jr., 44, must also serve a year under supervised release following his prison term. He was ordered by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder to surrender on Jan. 23 to begin his sentence. The Murrieta resident was found guilty of conspiracy and other charges after a four-day trial in April in federal court in downtown Los Angeles.
``This was gross abuse of a position of trust,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Donahue told the court. The man Cisneros was helping get into the country was actually a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. but was not allowed to re-enter the country due to criminal convictions and an outstanding warrant for his arrest, prosecutors said. Snyder said the defendant had violated the law and his oath, adding that ``the crime is severe.''Cisneros worked with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for 11 years and was assigned to the agency's Homeland Security Investigations office in the Inland Empire when charged last year.
Working as an undercover agent who investigated money laundering as well as human and narcotics trafficking, Cisneros was contacted in 2013 by a key figure of a criminal organization based in Southern California to assist the Mexican national. At the time, the man was working for the organized crime leader in the oil and gas industry and had traveled to Mexico to negotiate business transactions. When he man tried to re-enter the United States in July 2013, he was detained at Los Angeles International Airport and his passport was confiscated because of an arrest warrant for fraud. Cisneros helped the felon --who has since been indicted -- regain his passport and re-enter the U.S. at LAX.
Along with the conspiracy charge, Cisneros was convicted of acting as an agent of another person in a matter affecting the government, falsification of records in a federal investigation, and making false statements.