Beef Bribes on the Border

USDA Cattle Inspector Pleads Guilty to Taking Bribes at Mexican Border

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Last year, more than 1.1 million feeder cattle entered the U.S. from Mexico. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo by Katie Dellinger)

A former USDA inspector pleaded guilty April 25 to taking more than $40,000 in bribes at the Mexico-Texas border. Roberto Adams, from Laredo, Texas, 68, was the lead animal health technician at the crossing, according to court documents.

Adams' job was to check to be sure that cattle passing into the U.S. from Mexico met all necessary health requirements upon entering this country. Court records show he admitted to taking money from Mexican cattle brokers to let cattle into the U.S. without proper inspection, something that went on for more than a year.

Adams' sentencing hearing is set for August. He could be fined up to $250,000 and/or jailed up to 15 years. He is currently out on bond. U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo will determine sentencing.

Adams was first charged in March of this year, at which time he pleaded not guilty and said he wanted a jury trial. He was indicted by a grand jury in Texas for accepting bribes between March 2019 and November 2021, according to media reports at the time.

The indictment said he accepted U.S. currency "as an influence for the performance of an official act, that is, for allowing tick-infested and diseased cattle to enter the United States without properly inspecting and/or quarantining them, in violation of his lawful duties as a Lead Animal Health Technician for the United States Department of Agriculture."

The FBI investigated this case, with assistance from USDA.

More than 1.1 million head of feeder cattle from Mexico crossed the U.S. border in 2021, according to USDA.

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Victoria Myers