Supervisor misconduct alleged
A criminal complaint detailing allegations against a recently arrested Border Patrol supervisor states that he harassed and intimidated agents and even made one fear for his life, according to court records.
The National Border Patrol Council said in a statement that this was “part of a chronic situation which had previously been reported to the Border Patrol chain of command in the Laredo Sector.”
However, the council said the numerous grievances, unfair labor practices and complaints filed against Rudy Lopez were “swept under the rug.”
Lopez, a 44-year-old supervisory Border Patrol agent, turned himself into the Zapata County Sheriff’s Office, where he was served with an arrest warrant Monday.
Lopez was charged with two counts of harassment.
Border Patrol released a statement regarding the arrest.
“CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP officers and agents perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe,” the statement reads.
“We will cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigation of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.”
The National Border Patrol Council said Lopez would file “complaints against the complaining agents and union representatives through Customs and Border Protection’s Joint Intake Center.”
“This systemic abuse of the grievance procedure and Joint Intake Center left agents with no other recourse than to contact local law enforcement authorities,” the council said in the statement.
Sheriff’s Office investigators said they learned that an upper-level manager had spoken to Lopez before on numerous occasions, but he continued to harass many agents, an affidavit states.
On Nov. 4, a union representative along with two agents wanted to file a harassment report against a supervisor, Lopez, at the Zapata Border Patrol Station.
One agent told the Sheriff’s Office he feared for his life at the Zapata Station. Lopez had allegedly stared him down, cussed at him and had attempted to make physical contact with him.
“Supervisor Lopez had continued with his harassment even after being asked to stop numerous times by upper management,” states the criminal complaint.
The agent contemplated quitting his job to avoid harassment by Lopez, according to the court document.
Furthermore, Lopez had embarrassed him at the workplace and attempted to shoulder-bump him, the complaint states.
Records allege Lopez had patterns of reckless behavior.
The agent was afraid Lopez would provoke physical violence.
Lopez allegedly tried to provoke the agent in an unprofessional manner by being confrontational and trying to intimidate him on a daily basis.
Another agent claimed Lopez started harassing him a few months after being assigned to the Zapata Station.
Lopez had gone out of his way to make sure the agent would not speak, according to court documents.
When the agent confronted Lopez about “issues,” Lopez would get aggravated, states the complaint. Records do not specify what the “issues” were.
‘The agents fear me’
Court documents allege Lopez would tell his fellow supervisors, “You see. The agents fear me.”
Lopez allegedly made comments about a grievance filed against him: “A grievance! It’s a piece of paper. I rub it in my (expletive) (expletive) dumb kids,” he said in Spanish, according to court records.
The agent too thought about quitting his job because he could no longer tolerate the workplace environment.
He wanted to avoid any more harassment from Lopez and feared he would provoke workplace violence by physically attacking him, according to court documents.
Recently, the agent said he felt a sudden bump on his right elbow area.
He noticed it was Lopez who had bumped into him, records state.
Lopez continued walking straight without interacting, the agent said.
He said he did not confront Lopez to avoid problems.
“The National Border Patrol Council and its subsidiary locals seek to resolve issues at the lowest level possible.
In cases like this one, where Border Patrol managers condone, aid and cover-up the criminal actions of other managers, there is little recourse but to seek assistance from other law enforcement agencies,” the union said in the statement.