by Matt Clarke
According to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General John Roth, his office receives 300 to 400 cases alleging corruption against DHS personnel each year. The office investigates about 100 of them and passes the others on to internal affairs offices at I.C.E., Customs and Border Patrol, the T.S.A. or Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The New York Times reviewed thousands of DHS documents and court records, finding that close to 200 DHS employees and contract workers had taken nearly $15 million in bribes during the preceding decade. This likely underestimates the amount of the bribes because many court cases did not contain a total amount and gifts, trips and money stolen by DHS employees were not included.
15 DHS employees were arrested, convicted or sentenced on bribery charges in 2016.
The bulk of the known bribes went to customs agents and Border Patrol officers. Those DHS employees, who deal most, directly with drug cartels and smugglers, took $11 million of the known bribes.
"Corrupt C.B.P. law enforcement personnel pose a national security threat," according to a May 2016 DHS report which noted numerous problems with anti-corruption efforts in the Customs and Border Patrol and stated that the "true levels of corruption within C.B.P. are not known."
The corrupt officials are known to have allowed thousands of illegal immigrants and tons of drugs into the United States. The fear is that they will someday allow terrorists in as well.
"It does absolutely no good to talk about the building of walls or tougher enforcement if you can't secure the integrity of the immigration system, when you have fraud and corruption with your own employees," said a DHS internal affairs employee who requested anonymity.
"Any amount is bad, and one person alone can do a lot of damage," said Roth. "It doesn't have to be widespread."
Indeed, the number of known corrupt officials is less than one percent of the 250,000 people who work for DHS. But one corrupt agent, can do immense damage. For instance, former Border Patrol agent Ivhan Herrera-Chang was sentenced to 15 years in prison for accepting a $4,500 bribe to provide cartels with maps of underground border sensors, combinations to the locks on the gates in the border fence, locations of Border Patrol checkpoints and even information on confidential informants in Mexico.
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