Bribery, Smuggling, Sex Crimes: DHS Inspector Reports More Than 7,000 Criminal Complaints Against Employees In First Half Of 2013

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A recently released report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reveals 7,868 complaints of criminal misconduct reported to the OIG in the first half of this year. There’s no silver lining in that statistic — but at least 2013 is on pace to improve on 2012, when the department received 17,690 complaints of employee criminal misconduct.

The report, published Dec. 11, indicates many criminal complaints stem from allegations of corruption among border security personnel and of theft in the general workforce. But it also identifies a range of employee crimes including sexual assault and child pornography.

Infiltration of drug cartels into the rank and file of the DHS border security apparatus tops the OIG’s list of crime-curbing priorities. “OIG is particularly concerned with the smuggling of people and goods across the Nation’s borders,” the report states. “Smuggling continues to be a large-scale business and remains dominated by drug trafficking organizations that seek to systematically corrupt DHS employees to continue their schemes.”

From Page 21, under the “Employee Accountability and Integrity” heading:

A sample of our 2013 casework demonstrates the wide range and scope of unlawful misconduct in which Department employees engage. For example, in one case we learned that a CBP [Customs and Border Protection] employee was observed meeting with members of a known drug-trafficking organization. Later, he made arrangements with individuals he believed to be smugglers and allowed a vehicle driven by an undercover agent to pass through a border patrol checkpoint without being inspected. He also met with a confidential informant and received an $8,000 cash bribe payment in an envelope. After we arrested him, he resigned and pleaded guilty to one count of accepting a bribe.

Similarly, we investigated a CBP employee who was accepting bribes to allow narcotics through his inspection lane. We had and agent pose as a narcotics smuggler and pay the employee a series of bribes in exchange for allowing what he believed to be illegal narcotics enter the United States. He was found guilty of conspiracy and bribery.

This year, a USCIS [Citizenship and Immigration Services] employee pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, and was sentenced to 37 months incarceration and 120 months of supervised release. …We also arrested a senior ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] law enforcement officer who was involved in child pornography. He was sentenced to 70 months Federal incarceration, followed by 240 months of supervised release.

The report also recounts other examples, including those of an employee selling stolen government equipment on eBay, and a Border Patrol agent stopping a woman in a remote location and sexually assaulting her.

The report notes that many of the prescribed remedies to these kinds of criminal abuses of power have either already been put in place, or were put in place in previous fiscal years. “The Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010 required that, by January 4, 2013, CBP administer applicant screening polygraph examinations for all law enforcement applicants prior to hiring,” the report states. “CBP reported that this goal was met in October 2012.”

But the auditors don’t follow observations like this with any fresh opinion on the evident inefficacy of the department’s established anti-corruption measures.

OIG reports that, of the 7,868 complaints it received through the first half of fiscal year 2013, it’s launched 320 investigations that have led to 76 prosecuted cases, 83 convictions and 41 “personnel actions.” The report doesn’t comment on the range of the severity of “personnel actions.”

For the full 2012 fiscal year (each fiscal year begins Oct. 1), the department opened 1,030 investigations, had 132 cases accepted for prosecution, got 178 convictions and took 106 “personnel actions.”

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.