An article published Wednesday by The New York Times reported that agents in the Department of Homeland Security have taken over $15 million in bribes over the past 10 years, with some of the money coming from Mexican drug cartels.
The Times reported that 200 employees and contract workers have been caught taking bribes, which helped secure protection from everything from drug smuggling to sex trafficking.
“These employees have looked the other way as tons of drugs and thousands of undocumented immigrants were smuggled into the United States, the records show. They have illegally sold green cards and other immigration documents, have entered law enforcement databases and given sensitive information to drug cartels,” The Times reported. “In one case, the information was used to arrange the attempted murder of an informant.”
The article added that these numbers “most likely undercount the amount of bribes because in many cases court records do not give a tally. The findings also do not include gifts, trips or money stolen by Homeland Security employees.”
The Times presented one case in which agent Joohoon David Lee, who was investigating a Korean businessman being accused of sex trafficking back in 2012. Instead of conducting an investigation, however, he solicited $13,000 in bribes (not counting other gifts) from the accused businessman to make his “immigration issue go away.”
Agent Lee filed a report which read, “Subject was suspected of human trafficking. No evidence found and victim statement contradicts. Case closed. No further action required.”
However, another agent tipped internal DHS officials off about Lee interfering in a separate case. He was eventually convicted and spent 10 months in prison.
Another agent, Ivhan Herrera-Chiang, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for working with Mexican drug cartels.
“Mr. Herrera-Chiang, who was assigned to a special undercover unit targeting the cartels in Yuma, Arizona, provided maps of hidden underground sensors, lock combinations to gates along the United States-Mexico border and the locations of Border Patrol traffic checkpoints to an individual who provided them to the cartels,” The Times reported. “The cartels used the information to bypass Border Patrol agents and transport methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana into the country, according to court records.”
The apparent problem of bribery under Obama’s DHS presents another problem President-elect Trump will have to handle when he’s in office.
“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,” one DHS internal affairs official said.
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