Customs and Border Protection Officer Faces New Charges: Smuggling Undocumented Aliens into the U.S.

Customs and Border Protection Officer Faces New Charges: Smuggling Undocumented Aliens into the U.S.

In a recent development, Emanuel Celedon, a 36-year-old Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, is facing new charges of smuggling four undocumented aliens into the United States. This comes in addition to his previous charges of bribery and drug trafficking.

U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani announced the indictment, revealing that Celedon, who previously worked at the Port of Entry (POE) in Laredo, is now accused of bringing undocumented individuals into the country on separate occasions in September and November. The superseding indictment was returned on December 27.

Celedon remains in custody and is scheduled for an initial appearance on the new charges before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher dos Santos. The court will also hold a detention hearing during this appearance.

Two other individuals, Homero Romero-Hernandez and Jose Osvaldo Zapata Vasquez, both Mexican nationals residing illegally in the United States, are also expected to make appearances. Beatris Martinez, a 20-year-old from Cotulla, is set for her initial appearance on January 4, 2024, before Judge dos Santos.

Celedon had previously been indicted on November 28 for bribery and attempted importation of cocaine. The charges allege that he accepted U.S. currency in exchange for allowing the transport of what he believed to be cocaine into the United States from Mexico through the Laredo POE without inspection.

If convicted of the new human smuggling charges, Celedon could face up to 40 years in federal prison. The previous bribery charges carry a maximum sentence of 15 years each, along with a potential $250,000 fine. The cocaine importation charges could result in a maximum sentence of up to 40 years and a possible $5 million fine.

The investigation involved multiple agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, CBP-Office of Professional Responsibility, Texas Department of Public Safety, Border Patrol, Webb County Constable Precinct 2, and CBP Laredo Joint Forensic Center. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Bennett and Jennifer Day and is related to an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) case. OCDETF focuses on identifying, disrupting, and dismantling high-level criminal organizations threatening the United States through a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.