SEPTEMBER 14, 2007
A veteran U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at one of the nationâ??s busiest inspection stations has been charged with accepting cash bribes from foreigners entering the country illegally.
The Border Protection officer (Ronald Merker) worked at the passport control section in Miami International Airport and federal authorities say he accepted $1,000 a pop from foreigners, many of them South American, in exchange for allowing them into the U.S.
An immigration officer since 1983, Merker took bribes from at least four Brazilians and possibly dozens more over a two-year period. The illegal aliens would go through the line designated only for United States citizens at the airportâ??s busy Concourse E.
Nearly 20,000 foreign travelers with passports, visas and other legitimate documents go through the concourse daily making it among the nationâ??s busiest foreign traveler inspection stations in the country.
Three other men were also charged in the same ring for bringing the illegal aliens who bribed the officer into the country. The ringleader (Clodoaldo Ribeiro) was also charged with illegally reentering the country after being deported, fraudulently obtaining a U.S. passport and falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen.
Numerous immigration officials, from a variety of government agencies, have been charged with serious corruption in the last few years. They include U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents on the Mexican border accepting bribes from human and drug smugglers and immigration officers selling residence and naturalization certificates to illegal immigrants.
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