New Mexico Customs and Border officer indicted on civil rights violations

Published: Tuesday, August 23, 2022 - 6:06pm

A Customs and Border Protection officer in New Mexico has been indicted on federal charges of willfully depriving the rights of a U.S. citizen. 

The U.S. attorney’s office in New Mexico says 36-year-old Oscar Orrantia faces civil rights charges of violating the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizures during an encounter at the Columbus Port of Entry in June 2019.

The victim is only identified by the attorney’s office as John Doe. But in a separate lawsuit over the same incident filed last August, the ACLU alleges Orrantia assaulted a 64-year-old New Mexican man returning from visiting family in Mexico. 

Court filings allege Orantilla threw to the man to ground and slammed his head against a wall after the man suggested the agency open up another line at the port because of the heat. The suit also alleges the man was detained for almost an hour without medical help, despite having sustained visible injuries. 

Orantilla faces up to ten years in prison if convicted. The attorney's office says the arrest was made by CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility, the office responsible for investigating agent conduct. A CBP official says those investigators are now responsible for handling both administrative and criminal complaints against officers and Border Patrol agents. 

Earlier this year, another CBP officer was found guilty by a federal jury on charges of using excessive force during an encounter at the Calexico Port of Entry in California.

Fronteras Southwest Border