Nav: Home

Catch-22 -- stricter border enforcement may increase agent corruption

October 02, 2019

When a customs officer in El Paso, Texas was arrested for conspiracy to smuggle marijuana into the U.S between 2003 and 2007, investigators found she had sought a job with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency mainly to enable the smuggling operation.

This is but one example of how drug cartels infiltrate the agency. The estimated retail value of the drugs this one officer smuggled in over four years was around $288 million. Investigators also found that in the eight years between 2006 and 2014, roughly 30 job applicants admitted in their polygraph test that they were sent by Mexican cartels to seek employment with the agency.

These incidents support findings from a study by David Jancsics, a San Diego State University sociologist, who found that the total years of service agents had was the strongest predictor of different types of corruption on the border. If they were early career, they were more prone to trafficking of drugs weapons. If they were veterans, they were more prone to immigration corruption - bringing in illegal immigrants.

"One of the main implications of the study is that strict border enforcement may even increase corruption," said Jancsics, assistant professor at SDSU Imperial Valley with a joint appointment in SDSU's School of Public Affairs. "Organized crime groups will actively target federal border law enforcement to assist with their illicit transport, since bribing agents is less risky than being caught by random inspections."

Using documents obtained by investigative journalists with the Center for Investigative Reporting and The Texas Tribune through Freedom of Information Act requests, Jancsics analyzed data from cases where customs officers and Border Patrol agents had been arrested, charged and convicted for corruption between October 2004 and October 2015.

The study, published in Security Journal, is the result of two years of research and a detailed review of 160 cases.

Jancsics has been studying corruption since 2009, but began to focus on border corruption after NATO invited him in 2015 to present at a conference in Ukraine about border corruption. He found there were not many sources of academic literature on the subject, aside from how it relates to trade, tariffs, and taxes. He decided to focus on what happens when CBP agents are bribed by different groups.

In 2017, he began retrospective analysis of the data the journalists had obtained from the CBP, which was drawn from court documents, plea arguments, attorney letters, affidavits, sentencing memos, FBI reports, agent reports, press releases and other types of official documents.

A majority of the cases he studied, 71 percent, were from the southern border, and the rest were from the northern border as well as airports throughout the country that serve as entry points. Three states accounted for nearly 70 percent of the cases - Texas had the most number of cases in this data set, at 51, followed by California at 30 and Arizona at 25 cases.

Using decision tree analysis to separate data into homogenous groups, Jancsics found 56 percent of officers with less than five years of service, especially from the south, were involved in drug trafficking, compared to 27 percent of veteran officers.

For immigration corruption, it was the reverse - 40 percent of veteran officers were involved in human smuggling compared to 25 percent of early career officers.

These findings have deeper policy implications as it relates to the hiring of agents.

"We have no idea of the actual extent of corruption, because this is just from the reported cases," Jancsics said. "So it's only the tip of the iceberg."

San Diego State University

Related Drugs Articles:

Wallflowers could lead to new drugs
Plant-derived chemicals called cardenolides - like digitoxin - have long been used to treat heart disease, and have shown potential as cancer therapies.
Bristol pioneers use of VR for designing new drugs
Researchers at the University of Bristol are pioneering the use of virtual reality (VR) as a tool to design the next generation of drug treatments.
Towards better anti-cancer drugs
The Bayreuth biochemist Dr. Claus-D. Kuhn and his research team have deciphered how the important human oncogene CDK8 is activated in cells of healthy individuals.
Separating drugs with MagLev
The composition of suspicious powders that may contain illicit drugs can be analyzed using a quick and simple method called magneto-Archimedes levitation (MagLev), according to a new study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
People are more likely to try drugs for the first time during the summer
American teenagers and adults are more likely to try illegal or recreational drugs for the first time in the summer, a new study shows.
Drugs used to enhance sexual experiences, especially in UK
Combining drugs with sex is common regardless of gender or sexual orientation, reveals new research by UCL and the Global Drug Survey into global trends of substance-linked sex.
Promising new drugs for old pathogen Mtb
UConn researchers are targeting a metabolic pathway, the dihydrofolate reductase pathway, crucial for amino acid synthesis to treat TB infections.
Can psychedelic drugs heal?
Many people think of psychedelics as relics from the hippie generation or something taken by ravers and music festival-goers, but they may one day be used to treat disorders ranging from social anxiety to depression, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
New uses for existing antiviral drugs
Broad-spectrum antiviral drugs work against a range of viral diseases, but developing them can be costly and time consuming.
New TB drugs possible with understanding of old antibiotic
Tuberculosis, and other life-threatening microbial diseases, could be more effectively tackled with future drugs, thanks to new research into an old antibiotic by the University of Warwick and the Francis Crick Institute.
More Drugs News and Drugs Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at