It is common knowledge that the most frequently crossed international boundary on the planet is a huge, smuggling free-for-all. Despite the approximately 350 million legal crossings into the United States annually, we also know that Mexican cartels have gotten wildly creative with their illegal crossings.
Now, a cartel enforcer operating across the border from Texas is claiming that the drug smugglers are getting some help from U.S. border agents.
“The agents are bought,” a mid-level boss from the armed wing of the Juárez cartel told the Mexican newspaper El Universal.
The man, who goes by the name Jorge, told El Universal that he himself recruits people for various jobs in the U.S., including those with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“The large loads are well arranged before they pass through the checkpoint and immigration,” Jorge said in the interview, which took place in a moving car, using a voice modulator to conceal his identity. “An arranger gives them [the border agents] lots of money in an envelope and tells them exactly which car they are supposed to let pass through.”
It would be hard to verify to what extent Jorge’s organization has infiltrated and co-opted U.S. border authorities in the Ciudad Juárez-El Paso area, but numerous investigations and convictions handed down over the last several years indicate that it’s not uncommon for U.S. border agents to cross the line into criminal activity.
A long exposé published by the Texas Observer, chronicles various instances of corruption by agents. This includes buying weapons for criminal groups, human smuggling, abusing confidential informants and taking bribes from drug traffickers to cross the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
Furthermore, according to the Texas Observer report, corruption at the CBP usually went unpunished. The department in charge of overseeing CBP “became known for hoarding cases and then leaving them uninvestigated,” refusing help from the FBI, also tasked with keeping a watch over customs officers and border patrol agents.
For Mexican organized crime groups, according to the report entitled “Homeland Insecurity,” corrupting the agencies on the border is “part of their business model.”
The excellent 7000-word exposé quotes a female drug smuggler and confidential informant:
“She’s seen her share of corruption. In her view, the more ‘boots on the ground,’ the bigger the pool of potential candidates for the drug cartels. ‘Corruption is part of the business model,’ she said. ‘It’s really true what they say: Money talks. Oh, you show someone some money and they’re going to be in. I don’t care who it is. That’s never going to change.’”
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