DECEMBER 16, 2009
In yet another blow to a scandal-plagued U.S. Department of Homeland Security agency, one of the highest ranking officials in the history of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has admitted that he collaborated with Mexican drug dealers.
Richard Cramer, who once headed the busy Nogales Arizona ICE headquarters and was twice an attaché to Mexico, pleaded guilty in a south Florida federal court to obstructing justice by helping a pair of Mexican drug traffickers avoid arrest. The veteran federal agent assisted the drug smugglers and money launderers by obtaining confidential information from U.S. law enforcement databases, including the National Criminal Information Center and the criminal information systems of the Drug Enforcement Administration as well as ICE.
At the time, Cramer was in charge of ICE operations in Guadalajara, Mexico. He helped arrange the safe return to Mexico of a money launderer and drug dealer hiding in Miami Florida. The men’s criminal associates in Mexico had Cramer run their names in U.S. law enforcement databases to determine whether there were any arrest warrants or investigations pending. Cramer provided printouts of the confidential criminal checks, assuring that no warrants or probes would interfere with the return to Mexico.
Federal officials were shocked that the high-ranking ICE official, known as a dedicated leader in the war on drugs, assisted the enemy in this fashion. In Arizona he was known as an incorruptible and tireless cop who could never be cracked by the bad guys. Now he faces two decades in jail and has the dubious honor of being the highest ranking ICE official to admit or be convicted of corruption.
He’s hardly the first, however. In the last year alone ICE, the Homeland Security agency that enforces immigration laws and protects the U.S. against terrorist attacks, has been rocked by several major corruption scandals. Just a few months ago a Florida-based agent in charge of investigating domestic and international human smuggling organizations admitted he took bribes to help illegal aliens from China and Latin America enter the United States.
Before that a high-ranking ICE official in Detroit was sentenced to prison for taking bribes, gifts and favors to release illegal immigrants with criminal records and months earlier a veteran ICE attorney got charged with 75 crimes for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from illegal immigrants seeking American citizenship. In the same month a decorated ICE agent who had won the Justice Department’s highest honor for employee performance got arrested and charged with distributing drugs.
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