Smugglers Learn to Identify Willing Partners! 

Smugglers Learn to Identify Willing Partners! 
Posted by FoM on March 07, 1999 at 07:20:46 PT

With the right mix of cash and playing on "human temptations," drug traffickers can easily corrupt some Border Patrol, customs and Drug Enforcement Administration agents, law enforcement officials say. 
"Drug traffickers have an intelligence network," said an Immigration and Naturalization Service agent stationed on the Texas border. "They find out who the officials are who are hurting for money, who have a drinking problem, who like to womanize. They have a way of detecting the weaknesses, and they attack it."Drug traffickers use intermediaries to develop friendships with certain officers and agents. The intermediaries, who are not directly involved in trafficking, start with small gifts: a drink, a dinner, tickets to baseball or football games or a free night's stay at a Mexican resort, according to several law enforcement officials who are stationed along the Southwest U.S. border. Some will try to set up dates for the agents."If you combine these temptations with poor training, and in many cases more veteran agents [angry] at their supervisors or their agencies, you have a dangerous recipe for corruption of our people," a former drug agent in California said.One federal law enforcement officer in San Diego, Calif., who has worked with Mexican police described several nights out with Mexican officers in Tijuana, where the police would often have free drinks in bars the officers acknowledged were run by affiliates of a drug cartel.Once the go-betweens determine that an agent is ripe for a bribe, money is offered. Usually, drug traffickers are careful to gradually ask for something in exchange, like waving a load of drugs through an inspection booth or persuading other officials to look the other way."That little breakdown begins the process of the official saying, `Gee it's not so important to follow the rules strictly' or `It's not all that important whether or not this person does get authorized to come in,' " said James DeAtley, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, which covers the Southwest border from Brownsville to Laredo.Sometimes, the smugglers demand that the official help move the drugs over the border or drive the loads to northern cities. Or, they will ask for privileged information, such as when inspectors are changing their shifts, to identify the government's weaknesses.If even one official succumbs to the temptation, it can erode law enforcement agencies' efforts in fighting drugs."A corrupt law enforcement can do more harm than any trafficking organization," DeAtley said. "When you allow this corruption to go on, at some point it becomes known and the public itself starts having great skepticism about our ability to enforce laws."Other bribery attempts may be more brazen. One INS undercover agent in Texas who usually investigates corruption recently had to report that two undocumented immigrants offered him $12,000 to change their immigration status. Although the pair did not know the agent, they approached him for immigration documents for five family members. He later discovered they had drug- smuggling ties, he said."They knew I was an immigration officer, yet in their own mind they thought that this guy must be corrupt," the INS investigator said. "If I was young and in need of the money, maybe I would have taken it."Sometimes it seems this new generation wants the car, the house and money now," he said. "When someone is offering you thousands of dollars at a time to let a load go through, you have to be able to say to yourself that your job is more important to you than money."
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