Border Patrol agents arrest former Texas police chief for smuggling undocumented immigrants, affidavit states

Rausel Andrei Fonseca-Saldivar was driving a big rig to San Antonio, police said

Border Patrol agent speaks to the driver of a tractor-trailer passing through the Laredo North vehicle checkpoint in Laredo, Texas, on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. Smugglers routinely pack people entering the country illegally or drugs into tractor-trailers, counting on the vehicles not being opened at the inspection site. (AP Photo/Nomaan Merchant) (Nomaan Merchant, Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LAREDO, Texas – The former interim police chief of Dilley was arrested after admitting to transporting undocumented people across a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Laredo, according to a criminal complaint obtained by KSAT and local media reports.

Rausel Andrei Fonseca-Saldivar was driving a blue big rig hauling a trailer before he was inspected at the Laredo North Border Checkpoint around 8:40 p.m. on Feb. 7, the affidavit states.

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When the U.S. Border Patrol agent asked Fonseca-Saldivar if there were any other occupants in the tractor, he responded, “I’m the only person here,” according to the criminal complaint.

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Fonseca-Saldivar consented to a search of the cabin of the tractor, and the agent’s partner found three people, who later admitted to being in the United States without authorization, the criminal complaint states.

The agent who filed the complaint said the individuals were found under a blanket behind the driver’s seat in a hidden compartment.

The three people and Fonseca-Saldivar were arrested by the agents and taken into Border Patrol custody for further investigation. Fonseca-Saldivar faces charges related to smuggling undocumented people into the U.S.

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“During the search of the cabin Fonseca-Saldivar uncontrollably uttered ‘there’s only three’ to one of the (Border Patrol Agents),” the complaint stated.

Fonseca-Saldivar told agents during questioning that he knew he was arrested because there were other people inside the vehicle he was driving, according to the complaint. He said he was heading to San Antonio.

The criminal complaint states Jonathan Antillon-Salgado, a citizen of Mexico and material witness in the case, told agents he made arrangements to be smuggled into the U.S. for $3,000.

Antillon-Salgado said he was told to hide in the back of the tractor three days after he entered the U.S. illegally, according to the complaint. He said the driver instructed the people in the tractor not to make any noise.

Officials say Antillon-Salgado was not able to positively identify the driver when shown a six-pack photo lineup.

Dilley Interim Police Chief Anthony Zertuche confirmed to KSAT that a man by the same name as the suspect worked as the city’s interim chief and reserve officer until August 2019. The local newspaper, the Frio-Nueces Current, identified Fonseca-Saldivar as the suspect and former chief.

About the Author

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.

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