Mexican Cartels ‘Increasingly’ Corrupting DHS Employees to Smuggle Aliens From Countries ‘Likely to Export Terrorism’

Edwin Mora | August 22, 2012 | 8:48am EDT
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The San Ysidro port of entry, as seen from the Mexican side. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)

( – Mexican cartels “increasingly” are involved in the “systemic corruption” of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) workers as the cartels attempt to expand their drug and human smuggling operations -- including the trafficking of aliens from terrorism-linked countries into the U.S., the DHS acting inspector general told lawmakers earlier this month.

“As the United States enhances border security with successful technologies and  increased staffing to disrupt smuggling routes and networks, drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have become not only more violent and dangerous, but more clever as well. The DTOs have turned to recruiting and corrupting DHS employees,” Charles Edwards, the acting DHS inspector general, said in written remarks prepared for an August 1 hearing of a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.

“According to government reports, DTOs are becoming involved increasingly in systematic corruption of DHS employees to further alien and drug smuggling, including the smuggling of aliens from designated special interest countries likely to export terrorism.”

Special interest countries include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia, among others. As previously reported, in Fiscal 2011, 255 aliens from special interest countries were apprehended along the Southwest border and164 were detained along the border with Canada.

Edwards said border corruption may take the form of cash bribes, sexual favors, and other gratuities in return for U.S. employees allowing contraband or illegal aliens through primary inspection lanes – “or even protecting and escorting border crossings.” Edward also said U.S. employees may be induced to leak or sell sensitive law enforcement information to smugglers; and provide them with necessary documents such as immigration papers.

“A corrupt DHS employee may accept a bribe for allowing what appear to be simply undocumented aliens into the U.S. while unwittingly helping terrorists enter the country,” Edward said. “Likewise, what seems to be drug contraband could be weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical or biological weapons or bomb-making materials.”

Edwards told the panel that Mexican drug cartels specifically “want to infiltrate DHS employees.” He said the cartels target employees who may be “going through financial difficulties, gambling, debts, [or] sexual infidelity.”

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner David Aguilar, who testified alongside Edwards, said that 141 CBP employees “have been arrested or indicted for acts of corruption” since October 2004.

“Of the 141 arrests, 102 are considered mission compromising acts of corruption, which means the employee’s illegal activities were for personal gain and violated… the laws CBP personnel are charged with enforcing,” explained Aguilar.

He said the remaining 39 CBP employees have been arrested or indicted for other corrupt acts involving the “abuse of the knowledge, access, or authority granted by virtue of their official position.”

Aguilar said some of the corruption involves “alien smuggling, allowing loads of narcotics through a port of entry or checkpoint, providing sensitive information to a drug trafficking organization, selling immigration documents, or circumventing CBP’s detection systems.”

CBP has an estimated 47,000-strong workforce, including about 21,000 Border Patrol agents. The 141 CBP employees who have been arrested or indicted for corruption represents less than one percent of the entire force.

Nevertheless, as DHS IG Edwards warned in his written testimony, “while those who turn away from their sworn duties are few, even one corrupt agent or officer who allows harmful goods or people to enter the country puts the Nation at risk.”

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