During the same period, over 2,000 CBP employees, which include Border Patrol and Customs agents, have been charged for criminal acts other than corruption including off-duty behavior. CBP is a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Thomas Winkowski, acting deputy commissioner for CBP, made these revelations in written testimony provided to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management on May 17 during a hearing examining ethical standards at DHS.
According to Charles Edwards, the DHS inspector general who testified alongside the CBP deputy commissioner, the influence of Mexican drug cartels has reached into the ranks of CBP and contributed to corruption at the agency. “While the overwhelming majority serve with honor and integrity, a small minority have disgraced the agency and betrayed the trust of the American public and their fellow CBP employees by engaging in illegal and unethical behavior,” testified Winkowski. “Since October 1, 2004, 138 CBP employees have been arrested or indicted for acts of corruption including drug smuggling, alien smuggling, money laundering, and conspiracy. During this same period, more than 2,000 CBP employees have been charged in other criminal misconduct, including off duty behavior that serves to undermine the confidence of the public that we serve,” he said.
CBP employs about 60,000 people, of which 40,000 work at the U.S. borders. In early June 2011, then-CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin told a Senate panel that “127 CBP personnel have been arrested, charged or convicted of corruption” since 2004. That means that over the last year, there have been at least 11 CBP employees arrested for corruption when taking into consideration the most recent testimony of 138 agency personnel arrested since 2004.
Edwards told the panel on May 17 that the corrupting tentacles of the Mexican drug cartels have reached inside CBP. “The drug trafficking organizations have turned to recruiting and corrupting DHS employees,” Edwards testified in his prepared remarks. “The obvious targets of corruption are Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers who can facilitate and aid in smuggling; less obvious are those employees who can provide access to sensitive law enforcement and intelligence information, allowing the cartels to track investigative activity or vet their members against law enforcement databases,” he added.