NOVEMBER 19, 2008
Adding to a series of corruption cases involving federal officers that enforce immigration laws and protect the U.S. against terrorism, a decorated agent has been arrested and charged with distributing drugs.
In a secret indictment made public by a national news organization, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, Kevin Merkel, is accused of possession and intent to distribute crystal methamphetamine. Merkel was arrested by the FBI a few weeks ago and government authorities have been tight-lipped about the investigation.
Merkel was a respected veteran agent who won the Justice Department’s highest honor for employee performance—the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement—in 2000 for launching a breakthrough undercover operation into a large-scale illegal immigrant smuggling ring.
The indicted agent also helped lead a new and successful Homeland Security initiative (Secure Communities) in which federal agents and local law enforcement agencies work together to deport illegal immigrants in police custody.
This is only the latest of numerous corruption cases involving employees from government agencies that deal with immigration. Just last week a high-ranking ICE attorney got indicted by a grand jury for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from illegal immigrants seeking American citizenship.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been rocked by so much corruption that the government created an internal web site devoted to recently convicted border agents, most of them assigned to guard the Mexican border. In the last few years dozens have taken bribes in exchange for the safe passage of truckloads of illegal immigrants, drugs and other contraband into the U.S.
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