A senior border patrol agent quietly retired after he was charged with sexually assaulting a junior agent

Business Insider Lifestyle 1 month ago

A senior Border Patrol agent who was accused of sexually assaulting a junior female agent was allowed to quietly retire from the agency following his arrest and indictment, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Gus Zamora, 51, was arrested and indicted on sexual assault and kidnapping charges in July. The case, according to The Times, is currently in pretrial hearings in Tuscon.

Zamora's attorney, Brad Roach, told the paper his client has pleaded not guilty to the accusations and "looks forward to proving his innocence at trial." Insider has reached out to Roach for comment.

Zamora was a high-ranking official within the Border Patrol who rose up the ranks to become assistant chief in the Yuma sector. His wife, Gloria Chavez, is also one of the agency's most respected agents, recently appointed as interim chief of the El Paso region.

According to court documents reviewed by The Times, the female agent, identified as R.W., planned to meet with Zamora on the night of the alleged assault because she considered him to be a mentor.

Before they met at a restaurant in Tucson, R.W. alleges Zamora asked her in a text message if she had "dressed up" for him.

As the night progressed, R.W. alleged that Zamora bought multiple rounds of tequila shots, before taking her back to his hotel room and sexually assaulting her.

A pervasive issue

Zamora's case touches on what appears to be a widespread problem of sexual misconduct and discrimination within the agency.

In May, a Border Patrol agent was placed on administrative duties after being accused of sexually assaulting multiple women he met on dating apps. In February, Customs and Border Patrol doled out $125,000 to a teenage girl who said she was sexually assaulted by an officer while crossing the US-Mexico border.

According to a 2015 CBS News investigation, sexual misconduct within Customs and Border Protection is "significantly" higher than other federal law enforcement agencies, with more than 35 sexual misconduct cases against agents between 2012 and 2014. The Intercept revealed in 2018 that the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General received more than 1,200 complaints of sexual abuse against detainees between 2010 and 2017.

As noted by The Times, while Border Patrol has tried to recruit more women into the ranks, the agency has struggled to attract them to a male-dominated culture where only about 5% of 20,000 agents are women.

Jenn Budd, who served as a Border Patrol agent from 1995 to 2001, told The Times, "there's not a single woman in the Border Patrol who has either not been sexually assaulted, outright raped, or at the very least sexually harassed."

Chilling allegations

The alleged sexual assault reportedly occurred when Zamora traveled from Yuma to Tuscon for a Border Patrol work trip with two other colleagues.

During their meal, Zamora tried placing his hand on R.W.'s left thigh and, throughout the evening, continually urged her to drink, a waitress told investigators, even after she had three glasses of wine, a mixed drink, and five shots of tequila, according to police reports obtained by The Times.

After dinner, R.W. and Zamora reportedly returned to his hotel in an Uber. She said in police reports she was intoxicated and has no memory of leaving the restaurant. R.W. told police that she blacked out in Zamora's hotel room and, while she does remember waking up at times on his bed, doesn't feel that she gave consent for sex, according to The Times.

Following the alleged assault, R.W. submitted a rape kit to the Tuscon police crime lab for testing. When a detective later told Zamora that the sex was not consensual, he responded that "he knows, but he wasn't in a state to consent either," according to a police summary The Times viewed.

A Customs and Border Protection official told Insider the allegations against Zamora were first brought to the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility's attention in June 2019, after the Tuscon Police Department contacted Zamora regarding the alleged assault. The office initiated an investigation, notified the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, and are cooperating with the Tuscon Police Department, which is overseeing the criminal investigation, the official said.

"At the conclusion of the criminal investigation, OPR will review all the facts uncovered to ensure all allegations of misconduct by any CBP employee involved are thoroughly investigated for appropriate action by the agency," the official said.

Insider reached out to the Tuscon Police Department for comment on the criminal investigation.

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