A U.S. Border Patrol agent in South Texas admitted to letting human smugglers cross the U.S.-Mexico border with truckloads of undocumented migrants in exchange for bribes of $400 per person, according to a plea agreement filed Sunday in federal court. Rodney Tolson, Jr. caught the attention of internal DHS investigators back in 2019, when they saw Tolson on surveillance video waving an unidentified smuggler through a border checkpoint. Two unnamed suspects cooperated with DHS to identify Tolson, who received his payments in the parking lot of a nearby Walmart. “According to [one of the co-conspirators], Tolson would call...and tell [the co-conspirator] which lane and time window to use for crossing through the checkpoint,” says a factual statement attached to the plea filing.
The informant shared WhatsApp messages with investigators that Tolson had sent. In one, the informant asked Tolson if he was “ready to make some cash,” says the filing. “U know it,” Tolson responded. Eventually, Tolson suspected that the DHS internal affairs unit was onto him. At that point, he suggested the smugglers cross at distant ranches straddling the border, since Tolson had keys to the gates and knew where surveillance cameras were located. Criminal activity by U.S. border officers recently reached a five-year high. Tolson was arrested May 21.