Federal agents took bribes of up to $215,000 and even egg rolls to smuggle marijuana and cocaine, provide critical information to drug cartels so they could bypass border security, falsify documents for illegal immigrants and just make some cases “go away,” according to a report.
In one case, Johnny Acosta, a Customs and Border Protection officer in Douglas, Ariz., where he screened individuals and vehicles, said he was contacted by a group Mexican drug dealers in September 2013 and agreed to allow them to drive vans packed full of marijuana across the US border.
Acosta said the smugglers from Agua Prieta, Mexico, would describe the vehicles carrying the illegal load of pot and Acosta would allow them to cross the border without inspection, according to the New York Times. Court documents said Acosta took more than $70,000 in bribes to help the traffickers move over a ton of marijuana.
Mai Nhu Nguyen, an Immigration Service Officer in Santa Ana, Calif., approved or denied citizenship applications for immigrants until she started taking bribes of money and food. In November 2011, according to the court documents, she approved a citizenship application in return for 100 egg rolls.
Then there’s the case of Joohoon David Lee. A federal Homeland Security agent working for Immigration and Custom Enforcement in Los Angeles, Lee interviewed a woman who said she came to the US to become a sex slave for a Korean businessman identified as HS in the court papers cited by the Times.
A year later, Lee contacted the businessman’s lawyer and said if he received an all-expenses-paid trip to Korea where he would interview HS, he would write a favorable report cleaning the accused man.
In 2013, Lee traveled to Seoul where HS picked up the tab for his hotel and entertainment expenses. While there Lee asked HG for for a “large sum of money” to make “any immigration issue go away.”
HS agreed and when Lee returned to California, he filed a report clearing HS. “Subject was suspected of human trafficking. No evidence found and victim statement contradicts. Case closed. No further action required,” Lee wrote. In all, Lee received about $13,000 in bribes, the Times reported.
The Times, after reviewing court records and internal Homeland Security documents from the past 10 years, show nearly 200 DHS employees have pocketed nearly $15 million in bribes.
And even thought they represent just 1 percent of the total number of employees at the agency that secures 7,000 miles of border, their cases represent the toll their illegal actions can have on the nation’s security.
A little bit of corruption can add up to a lot of harm.
“Any amount is bad, and one person alone can do a lot of damage. It doesn’t have to be widespread,” John Roth, the inspector general at Homeland Security, told the Times.
President-elect Donald Trump made border security a central theme of his presidential campaign, promising to build a wall to keep out criminals, rapists and drug dealers.
But a Homeland Security official said until corrupt agents can be weeded out of the agency, walls will have no effect on keeping trouble from the cross the country’s borders.
“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,” the official told the Times.
This article was originally published in the NY Post.