Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cartel corruption reaches into the ranks of U.S. border agents, officials say

Mexican drug cartels are increasingly luring U.S. border agents into smuggling operations with offers of cash and sex, authorities acknowledged in Washington last week. Top officials in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told a Senate subcommittee during a hearing on Thursday that Mexican drug-trafficking organizations are attempting to generate "systematic corruption" among the ranks of U.S. customs and border patrol agents, forcing the agency to open hundreds of internal investigations on employees. Charles Edwards, acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, told the subcommittee that corruption on the border has taken the form of "cash bribes, sexual favors, and other gratuities in return for allowing contraband or undocumented aliens through primary inspection lanes or even protecting or escorting border crossings," according to a transcript of the official's testimony. Since 2004, authorities have made 127 arrests or indictments against border employees for acts of corruption "including drug smuggling, alien smuggling, money laundering, and conspiracy," said Alan Bersin, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner...more

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