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Former Las Cruces U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Pleads Guilty to Obstruction of Justice

The Justice Department recently announced that former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer Christopher M. Holbrook pleaded guilty in federal court in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to obstruction of justice.

The charge stems from Holbrook’s falsification of a report regarding his use of force against an individual, referred to as R.A.M., on March 23, 2015. At the time of the incident, Holbrook, 31, was working as a CBP officer in Las Cruces.

In his plea agreement, Holbrook admitted falsifying an official document. Specifically, Holbrook falsely claimed in his use-of-force report that when he detained R.A.M., R.A.M. actively resisted and attempted to pull away. Holbrook further falsely claimed that he used the minimal amount of force necessary to control R.A.M. but that he lost control and they both fell to the floor. In pleading guilty, Holbrook admitted that in fact, and as he knew at the time, he intentionally swept R.A.M.’s legs out from under him and caused R.A.M.’s head to hit the floor. Holbrook also admitted that he falsified his use-of-force report to avoid getting in trouble with CBP.

Holbrook faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.

“Federal law enforcement officers have an unassailable duty to uphold the law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “The defendant’s unlawful actions, obstruction of justice, and intentional falsification of a report, undermines the public’s confidence in our criminal justice system. This Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute such violations of the law.”

“Law enforcement officers are accorded tremendous power to enforce the law and ensure justice. Preventing the abuse of this authority is necessary to protect the rights of our citizens and to maintain public trust in law enforcement agencies,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson of the District of New Mexico. “Those who take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States must be held accountable when they willfully violate the constitutional rights of others and obstruct justice to cover up their crimes.”

This case was investigated by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brock Taylor of the District of New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office and Trial Attorney Julia Gegenheimer of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice are prosecuting the case.