Brian Houston passed an initial Customs and Border Patrol screening before his widely publicized border-gate wedding to a citizen of Mexico in November, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
Houston’s bride-to-be, Evilia Reyes, had no visa to come into the U.S., and he told the Union Tribune in a previous report that he could not travel to Tijuana for the wedding, either, but wouldn’t elaborate.
It was only after the wedding, upon further checks into Houston’s background, that Border Patrol found out why he didn’t want to have that conversation.
It’s because he pleaded guilty in May to federal drug smuggling charges, according to KNSD, stemming from his arrest in February, when he tried to sneak over 130 pounds of heroin, meth and cocaine lined in the car he was driving into the U.S. at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
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Houston’s indictment, obtained by the San Diego Reader, says he was driving a Volkswagen Jetta with 43 pounds of heroin, 47 pounds of meth and 43 pounds of cocaine stuffed hidden in its panels.
Houston is scheduled to be sentenced in February, but border patrol agents still stood guard over that three-minute ceremony on Nov. 18 with the rusty steel gate known as the “Door of Hope” open for the sixth time since 2013. NPR said the ceremony demonstrated that “love has no boundaries.”
Now the confusion over Houston’s legal status has Customs and Border Patrol officials and the founder of Border Angels, the nonprofit that has organized the border reunification events at the Door of Hope each year since 2013, pointing fingers at one another over the embarrassment.
“Border Angels has never done any background checks, as the Border Patrol advised us, they will do all background checks and advise us which families have been cleared,” Enrique Morones, the founder of Border Angels, told the Union-Tribune. “It doesn’t look good for us. It’s totally their fault. They’re the ones who are the main people that can do it ... We had no idea what these people’s records are.”
But Joshua Wilson, vice president and spokesman for National Border Patrol Council Local 1613, told KNSD the agents who were there to ensure the safety of all involved during the ceremony and the 11 other border meetings that day feel duped by Houston and Border Angels.
“The agents are upset. They feel like they were taken advantage of,” Wilson told the Union-Tribune. “Turns out we ended up providing armed security for a cartel wedding.”
Rodney Scott, San Diego sector chief for Customs and Border Patrol, told the San Diego Reader that the incident could have a chilling effect on future family events at the Door of Hope.
“The U.S. Border Patrol did not know or have any advance knowledge of the wedding,” he said. “This event would absolutely have not been approved, and to be perfectly honest, this blatant disregard of trust has jeopardized any future openings of the border-wall door.”