Monday, May 30

CORRUPTION IN THE DRUG TRADE ON OUR SIDE OF THE BORDER

Today's "Houston Chronicle" (registration required) carries a story by reporter James Pinkerton that points to corruption within the ranks of U.S. Border Patrol agents. Indeed, there were 17 criminal cases aginst corrupt officials in 2004.

Pinkerton writes:

As Mexican drug cartels have transformed the Texas-Mexico border into one of the major transport corridors for marijuana, cocaine and heroin, traffickers have stepped up their efforts to bribe agents.

While attention has been focused on the wide-scale corruption of Mexican law enforcement officials by powerful drug organizations, recent investigations along the border have revealed corruption of several U.S. agents at key international crossings.

This blogger has written previously on how the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas remains a prime corridor for illegal traffiking in human cargo, illicit drugs, and, even more worrisome, the pathway of choice for the dreaded MS-13 gang that now ranges through 33 states in this country. The valley's major cities are Brownsville, Harlingen, and McAllen, Texas. There are numerous official Ports of Entry from Brownsville to Laredo and, of course, those used by cayotes to bring the illegals in and not just in the cover of darkness, but often in broad daylight.

And this is not a new problem in the valley. But now an acute problem is being exacerbated by the complicity of some of our own government agents.

Unfortunately, the corruption that is rife on the Mexican side of the border is insinuating itself into the U.S. side and not all who work for the Department of Homeland Security have homeland security as their primary goal.

As Pinkerton continues:

The most recent Texas corruption convictions include:

•Gerardo Diaz, a 43-year-old U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspector who pleaded guilty in El Paso to accepting a $15,000 bribe to allow five kilos of cocaine to enter the Ysleta port of entry. He was sentenced in March to eight years in prison.
•In April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspector Fabian Solis, 41, was convicted of taking $300 for each undocumented alien he allowed to enter the country at international bridges in Roma and Rio Grande City. He is awaiting sentencing.
Veteran prosecutors and federal agents say trying to bribe an official who mans a border crossing point, a highway checkpoint in the interior, or a stretch of the Rio Grande is a risky but successful tactic.

"To a drug organization, it's the logical extension of a successful business plan," explained former federal prosecutor Eric Reed, who entered private practice in Houston earlier this year. ''I mean, if you have a hook in a law enforcement officer, you've got it made."


The following should give Americans pause, as bribes can move not only human cargo and drug cargo, but weapons and people determined to harm us:

And the bribe amounts can be staggering.

''It's the money and weakness," said one longtime U.S. agent stationed on the border, who would only speak if his name was not used. "It doesn't take a whole lot to approach an officer at a Port of Entry and ask, 'How would you like to make $5,000 a car?' "

In a corruption case pending in McAllen, a U.S. Customs inspector living in a $500,000 home — complete with a basement movie theater — is accused of accepting up to $10,000 for each drug-loaded vehicle he allegedly waved through his inspection lane on an international bridge. FBI agents testified the inspector was working for two drug organizations.

Could it be that the Minutemen -- a volunteer organization of concerned American citizens determined to assist the U.S. Border Patrol in its apprehension of illegal aliens and drug traffikers -- might provide a countervailing influence to the bribery? Interesting that the President of the United States would be so quick to slander these fine Americans as 'vigilantes"; but, have you ever heard the president decry the corruption that James Pinkerton has reported on in the Department of Homeland Security or what it could portend if terrorists were to use sex and money to gain favor with those easily corrupted in the ranks of the Border Patrol?

Unthinkable? Think again!