MAY 19, 2008
A federal officer with the Homeland Security agency in charge of protecting the U.S. from terrorists, drugs and illegal immigrants has been arrested for conspiring to instead smuggle them into the country.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer (Luis Francisco Alarid) worked at a heavily traveled San Diego port of entry, Otay Mesa, that borders Tijuana Mexico. He had been investigated by a multi-agency corruption task force—including the U.S. Attorney, FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement—dedicated to rooting out rising corruption along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Authorities remain tight-lipped about the details of the charges, although they verified that the 31-year-old border officer is being held at a San Diego jail and has been placed on paid leave by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). With thousands of officers strategically situated on the front lines, the agency is the nation’s largest law enforcement organization and its mission is to secure the U.S. from terrorists and other threats.
In fact, it was created after the 2001 terrorist attacks as the unified border agency by combining the inspectional and border forces of U.S. Customs, U.S. Immigration, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and the U.S. Border Patrol. The idea was to create a powerful force that would effectively protect America’s borders.
Instead, CBP has been rocked by numerous scandals involving corrupt agents at airports, seaports and checkpoints along the southern border. They include officers working in different parts of the Mexican border accepting bribes from human and drug smugglers and an officer at a Florida airport charged with assisting a drug smuggling ring by tapping into sensitive federal databases. Officers throughout the agency have been charged with trafficking drugs, taking money for migrant smuggling, witness tampering and embezzlement.
There was even a shameful case of a Border Patrol agent named Oscar Ortiz, who admitted smuggling 100 illegal immigrants into the country in his government vehicle. The punch line is that Ortiz was himself an illegal immigrant who used a false birth certificate to get his government job. These are the folks protecting our borders.
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