Turf battles, internal dysfunction and other troubles have left U.S. Customs and Border Protection grasping to get a handle on corruption and other misconduct within its ranks, according to an internal study that has been kept secret for more than a year.
As the department has bolstered border security by adding thousands of new agents, expanding its Southwest border fence and deploying sophisticated surveillance technology, Mexican crime syndicates increasingly have turned to bribing agency employees and have attempted to infiltrate U.S. law enforcement ranks with their own operatives to avoid those obstacles.
Customs and Border Protection has identified at least 15 attempts of infiltration, according to the study, which did not give specific examples. That number could be much higher now as the agency, as mandated by a 2010 law, has ramped up efforts to administer polygraph exams to all new applicants.
As part of lie detector tests, prospective hires have admitted to drug trafficking, human smuggling and other illegal activity, according to examples the agency previously provided to the Center for Investigative Reporting.
One applicant told examiners that he smuggled 230 people across the border and shuttled drug dealers around border towns so they could conduct their business. Another admitted to various crimes, including transporting $700,000 in drug money and 50 kilograms of cocaine across the Southwest border.
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