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CBP Agents' Integrity Questioned

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CBP Agents' Integrity Questioned

CBP Agents' Integrity Questioned


GAO Report

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A new Government Accountability report says the Homeland Security Department doesn’t have a plan to maintain integrity among its agents.

Less than one percent of Customs and Border Protection officers have been arrested or charged with corruption. That’s 144 cases in seven years -- out of 60,000 agents. There are 2,000 more if you count lesser accusations like local arrests. But CBP says those numbers are still too high. So the Government Accountability office investigated.

"CBP was in the process of developing an integrity strategy but had not yet put one in place to guide efforts across its various components," said the GAO's Rebecca Gambler, who authored the report.

That’s led to disorganization. For example, one official responsible for the integrity of staff at a port of entry created a fake social media account to monitor agents.

The GAO did note that the CBP took some steps to mitigate corruption. Border Patrol agents, for example, are limited in their use of cellphones while out in the field to help prevent their easy access to organizing cross-border trafficking. And Customs itself has turned to technology to keep inspectors honest at the ports of entry.

The GAO also recommends that periodic lie detector tests for working agents be budgeted into an integrity plan. CBP says it lacks the resources to do so.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.