Over the past decade, nearly 200 employees and contract workers of the Department of Homeland Security have been charged with taking bribes when they were supposed to be protecting the country's borders, according to a New York Times report.
The total amount of bribes is close to $15 million, but could be much more because complete dollar amounts aren't always available in court documents.
The DHS employees have been accused of taking bribes while they let drugs and undocumented immigrants slip across the border. These employees have also been accused of selling green cards and giving sensitive information to drug cartels, including one case that led to the attempted murder of an informant.
President-elect Donald Trump won the presidency with a campaign that focused on border security, but the New York Times points out that a major problem exists within the DHS itself.
“It does absolutely no good to talk about the building of walls or tougher enforcement if you can’t secure the integrity of the immigration system, when you have fraud and corruption with your own employees,” said an unnamed internal affairs official at the DHS.
With the help of technology and increased funding, security has tightened along the U.S. borders in recent years, leading to more nuanced intrusions into the United States, including the bribing of DHS employees.
“So it makes sense that cartels would target and try to corrupt border interdiction agents,” Fred Burton, chief security officer at Stratfor, a global intelligence company, told the New York Times. “It’s very similar to the tactics and tradecraft used by foreign intelligence services during the Cold War.”
Corruption within the DHS has been a longstanding problem.
In 2012, the Center for Investigative Reporting found that DHS internal affairs agents were told by superiors to falsify records before an inspection of the department's McAllen, Texas field office.
The head of the McAllen office's internal affairs department, Eugenio Pedraza, was convicted of falsifying records and obstructing a federal investigation in 2014. He was sentenced to three years in prison.