A man who pretended to be a federal agent to scam more than $300,000 (£245,000) from migrants has been jailed for 10 years.
Modesto Gonzalez III, 47 from Texas, pretended to be a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent and told illegal migrants that they would be deported if they did not pay him thousands of dollars each.
The immigrants – an unspecified number in Austin and around 20 people in Chicago – had been seeking legal status in the US.
Gonzalez also charged them for taxes and told them that he could get them bargain prices on items seized by the DEA, such as homes and building equipment.
He received tens of thousands of dollars for these, according to prosecutors.
The US Attorney’s Office in the western district of Texas said a number of Gonzalez’s victims told the court he had threatened to have them and their children deported if they did not pay.
In March, Gonzalez pleaded guilty to wire fraud and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
US District Court Judge Lee Yeakel ordered Gonzalez to repay the money and to hand in the three firearms found at his home by police.
US Attorney John Bash said after the sentencing: “This prosecution is an example of how we seek justice for all victims of crime, including migrants who are in the country illegally. No one deserves to be defrauded.”
Gonzalez already has three convictions for impersonating law enforcement and impersonation-based theft.