Border Agent Gets 5 Years in Prison for Letting Illegal Immigrants Through Checkpoint for Cash

A former border inspector was sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison for guiding hundreds of illegal immigrants through his checkpoint booth in exchange for at least $70,000 from a smuggling ring.

Michael Anthony Gilliland, a 44-year-old former Marine and 16-year border agent, pleaded guilty in September to letting illegal immigrants through San Diego's Otay Mesa port of entry in exchange for bribes.

Gilliland and five others coordinated smuggling operations and deliberately failed to record vehicles that ferried immigrants through border lanes under his supervision, according to court documents. He was arrested in June.

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Four other co-conspirators have been sentenced to shorter prison terms for their roles in the ring. A fifth co-conspirator, Aurora Torres Lopez, is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

Gilliland was also fined $200,000.

Wiretaps described in court documents recorded Gilliland, who worked the graveyard shift, speaking in code with Torres and another female accomplice about his schedule and how many immigrants would be coming through his lane. Prosecutors said he had taken between $70,000 and $120,000 from Torres and her group since 2004.