Ex-Border Patrol agent gets 3 years in prison for aiding immigrant smugglers

SAN DIEGO - A former U.S. Border Patrol agent was sentenced Friday to 36 months in federal prison for helping immigrant smugglers in exchange for cash.

Jose Olivas Jr., 46, pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to smuggle aliens and launder money. The 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol admitted helping more than 100 illegal immigrants get into the U.S. from January 2006 until his arrest a year later.

Prosecutors said he pocketed as much as $15,000 from smugglers, who paid him $100 each time he scouted a highway checkpoint on Interstate 5 at San Clemente, about 60 miles north of San Diego.

If the checkpoint was closed, he would call the smugglers and give them an all-clear to follow with carloads of migrants.

According to Olivas' plea agreement, he worked with others who brought illegal immigrants from Mexico at border crossings in California, including San Diego. He also admitted showing Border Patrol reports to members of the smuggling ring.

Olivas faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.