Tampa, Florida – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – United States Attorney Paul I. Perez, together with Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven J. Mocsary, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Office of Professional Responsibility, announced today that RAFAEL FRANCISCO PACHECO, JR.,
35, of Tampa pleaded guilty today to 27 felony counts related to receiving bribes from a narcotic trafficker between December 1999 and June 2001, while he was employed as a Special Agent with the United States Customs Service — now U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. PACHECO pleaded guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery (Count One), five counts of receiving bribes as public official (Counts Two through Six), one count of misleading other law enforcement officers in an attempt to hinder a possible federal investigation of the drug trafficker who was paying him the bribes (Count Twelve), one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering (Count Thirteen), six counts of money laundering (Counts Twenty-Four through Twenty-Nine), one count of obstruction of a federal grand jury proceeding (Count Thirty) and two counts of making false statements to agents of the Internal Revenue Service (Counts Thirty-One and Thirty-Two). PACHECO faces twenty (20) years’ imprisonment, a $250,000.00 fine and three years of supervised release on Counts Thirteen through Twenty-Three, up to fifteen (15) years’ imprisonment, a $250,000.00 fine and three years of supervised release on Counts Two through Six, up to ten (10) years’ imprisonment, a $250,000.00 fine and three years
supervised release on Counts Twelve and Thirty, and up to five (5) years’ imprisonment, a $250,000.00 fine and three years of supervised release on Counts One, Twenty-Four through Twenty-Nine, Thirty-One and Thirty-Two. PACHECO must also pay a $100.00 special assessment for each felony count. In addition, PACHECO agreed to forfeit $17,400.00 to the United States — the proceeds of the bribery offenses.
According to the plea agreement, between December 1999, and June 2001,
PACHECO, a Special Agent with the United States Customs Service, received almost
$18,000.00 in bribes from Fidencio Estrada (“Estrada”), a citizen of Mexico, who was
known to PACHECO to be a suspected narcotics trafficker and money launderer.
PACHECO received money (bribes) from Estrada to influence PACHECO to
perform official acts in violation of his sworn duties. Specifically, on at least nine
occasions, Estrada paid bribes to PACHECO in return for and to influence officials acts by PACHECO.
Most of the bribes were paid by Estrada through Western Union money transfers
sent by third parties in their names as directed by Estrada, to conceal the nature, source
and ownership of the bribe money, that is, to conceal that it was Estrada’s money.
PACHECO received the Western Union money transfers which were issued in the form of
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checks. Pacheco then, in most instances, cashed the checks before depositing the cash
into his personal checking account — to further disguise and conceal the source and nature
of the cash bribes.
On various other occasions, PACHECO received cash bribes directly from Estrada.
Specifically, near the end of February 2000, PACHECO traveled to Texas and received at
least $6400.00 in cash from Estrada. On March 1, 2000, after returning to Tampa,
PACHECO used the $6400.00 to pay off a vehicle loan at the Florida Customs Federal
During the same time period that PACHECO received these bribes from Estrada,
PACHECO unlawfully accessed the TECS and NCIC databases to obtain restricted
information regarding Estrada and others. PACHECO thereafter provided this information
from those restricted databases to Estrada.
On May 2, 2000, during the time period when he was receiving bribes from Estrada,
PACHECO sent a memorandum on U.S. Customs letterhead to a Senior Customs
Representative at the American Consulate in Monterrey, Mexico. The letter falsely
indicated that Estrada was assisting the U.S. Customs Service in Tampa in criminal
investigations. In fact, Estrada was never a source or informant for law enforcement. The
letter requested the Senior Customs Representative to coordinate with the American
Consulate in obtaining visas to assist Estrada’s wife and daughter in entering the United
States. Based on this false information and representations made by PACHECO, visas
were issued to Estrada’s wife and daughter on May 19, 2000, facilitating their entry into the United States.
On December 3, 2000, during the time period when PACHECO was receiving bribes
from Estrada, a Texas State Trooper initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle in Brazoria County, Texas, that was occupied and driven by Estrada. Estrada was arrested for traffic violations and gave consent to search the vehicle. The Trooper found PACHECO’s business card in the vehicle. During the course of the arrest, the Trooper became aware that just four months earlier, in August 2000, Estrada was an occupant of a vehicle stopped by Texas State Troopers which resulted in the seizure of $74,980.00 in cash. None of the occupants claimed knowledge of the money. On December 3, 2000, the Trooper contacted PACHECO about Estrada. PACHECO falsely claimed to the Trooper that Estrada was an informant for the U.S. Customs Service.
The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration
and Customs Enforcement, Office of Professional Responsibility. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also assisted in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey S. Downing.