NOVEMBER 02, 2009
For the second time in less than a month, a federal officer with the key Homeland Security agency patrolling the U.S. border has been criminally charged for smuggling illegal immigrants from Mexico.
Just a few weeks ago, a separate Texas Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent was indicted for bribery and conspiracy to unlawfully transport aliens by the same Houston federal prosecutor’s office. Authorities say that veteran CBP agent (Javier Cavazos) took cash from at least one illegal immigrant in exchange for admission into the U.S. He faces more than a decade in prison.
In an unrelated scheme, the second border agent (Rudy Soliz), who was arrested late last week, was charged with transporting an undocumented alien into the U.S. and conspiracy. Soliz is an 11-year veteran of the agency that protects the nation’s borders from terrorism, human and drug smuggling and illegal migration. He resigned upon being arrested and faces a maximum of a decade in prison.
These two cases are part of a growing epidemic of corruption among U.S. law enforcement officials who work along the Mexican border. Government data revealed earlier this year that local police, elected sheriffs and federal officers are collaborating in record numbers with Mexican smugglers who bribe them with cash and sometimes sexual favors.
The crisis has hit CBP, the nation’s largest law enforcement organization, especially hard. Created after the 2001 terrorist attacks to be the unified border agency, CBP has seen the number of officers charged with corruption nearly triple in one year. During a recent 10-month period alone, nearly two dozen CBP agents have been criminally charged.
Fraud was so rampant last year that the government created an internal web site devoted to convicted border agents and the agency began administering lie detector tests to ensure future applicants didn’t already work for Mexican smuggling organizations. It marked a shameful chapter for CBP, which combines the inspectional and border forces of U.S. Customs, U.S. Immigration, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and the U.S. Border Patrol.
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