oversight

Drug Control: INS and Customs Can Do More To Prevent Drug-Related Employee Corruption

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-03-30.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                United States General Accounting Office

GAO             Report to the Chairman, Caucus on
                International Narcotics Control



March 1999
                DRUG CONTROL
                INS and Customs Can
                Do More To Prevent
                Drug-Related
                Employee Corruption




GAO/GGD-99-31
GAO                United States
                   General Accounting Office
                   Washington, D.C. 20548

                   General Government Division



                   B-279226

                   March 30, 1999

                   The Honorable Charles E. Grassley
                   Chairman, Caucus on International
                     Narcotics Control
                   United States Senate

                   Dear Mr. Chairman:

                   The corruption of some INS and Customs employees along the Southwest
                   Border by persons involved in the drug trade is a serious and continuing
                   threat. The enormous sums of money being generated by drug trafficking
                   have increased the threat for bribery. It is a challenge that the Immigration
                   and Naturalization Service (INS), the U.S. Customs Service, and other law
                   enforcement agencies must overcome at the border.

                    This report responds to your request that we review INS’ and Customs’
                   efforts to address employee corruption on the Southwest Border. As
                   agreed with you, our objectives were to (1) determine the extent to which
                   INS and Customs have and comply with policies and procedures for
                   ensuring employee integrity; (2) identify and compare the Departments of
                   Justice’s and the Treasury’s organizational structures, policies, and
                   procedures for handling allegations of drug-related employee misconduct
                   and determine whether the policies and procedures are followed; (3)
                   identify the types of illegal drug-related activities in which INS and
                   Customs employees on the Southwest Border have been involved; and (4)
                   determine the extent to which lessons learned from corruption cases
                   closed in fiscal years 1992 through 1997 have led to changes in policies and
                   procedures for preventing the drug-related corruption of INS and Customs
                   employees.

                   Both INS and Customs have policies and procedures designed to ensure
Results in Brief   the integrity of their employees. However, neither agency is taking full
                   advantage of its policies, procedures, and the lessons to be learned from
                   closed corruption cases to fully address the increased threat of employee
                   corruption on the Southwest Border. These policies and procedures
                   consist mainly of mandatory background investigations for new staff and
                   5-year reinvestigations of employees, as well as basic integrity training.
                   While the agencies generally completed background investigations for new
                   hires by the end of their first year on the job, as required, reinvestigations
                   were typically overdue, in some instances, by as many as 3 years. Both INS
                   and Customs said the basic training that new employees are to receive
                   includes integrity training. Agency records for 284 of 301 randomly


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selected INS and Customs employees on the Southwest Border showed
that they received several hours of integrity training as part of their basic
training.

The Departments of Justice and the Treasury have different organizational
structures but similar policies and procedures for handling allegations of
drug-related misconduct by INS and Customs employees. At Justice, the
Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is generally responsible for
investigating criminal allegations against INS employees. We found that
the Justice OIG generally complied with its policies and procedures for
handling allegations of drug-related misconduct. At the Treasury, Customs’
Office of Internal Affairs is generally responsible for investigating both
criminal and noncriminal allegations against Customs employees. We
could not assess Customs’ compliance with its procedures for handling
allegations of drug-related misconduct because its automated case
management system and its investigative case files did not provide the
necessary information.

Some INS and Customs employees on the Southwest Border have engaged
in a variety of illegal drug-related activities, including waving drug loads
through ports of entry, coordinating the movement of drugs across the
Southwest Border, transporting drugs past Border Patrol checkpoints,
selling drugs, and disclosing drug intelligence information.

INS and Customs have missed opportunities to learn lessons and change
their policies and procedures for preventing the drug-related corruption of
their employees. The Justice OIG and Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs
are required to formally report internal control weaknesses identified from
closed corruption cases, but have not done so. Our review of 28 cases
involving INS and Customs employees assigned to the Southwest Border,
who were convicted of drug-related crimes in fiscal years 1992 through
1997, revealed internal control weaknesses that were not formally reported
                  1
and/or corrected. These weaknesses included instances where (1) drug
smugglers chose the inspection lane at a port of entry, (2) INS and
Customs employees did not recuse themselves from inspecting individuals
with whom they had close personal relationships, and (3) law enforcement
personnel were allowed to cross the Southwest Border or pass Border
Patrol checkpoints without inspection. Also, INS and Customs had not
formally evaluated their integrity procedures to determine their
effectiveness. For example, we determined that financial information

1
 In this report, if employees entered guilty pleas, we considered them to have been convicted of the
crime.




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                         required for background investigations and reinvestigations was either
                         limited or not fully reviewed.

                         Stretching 1,962 miles from Brownsville, TX, to Imperial Beach, CA, the
Background               Southwest Border has been a long-standing transit area for illegal drugs
                         entering the United States. According to the Department of State, the
                         Southwest Border is the principal transit route for cocaine, marijuana, and
                         methamphetamine entering the United States.

                         INS and Customs are principally responsible for stopping and seizing
                         illegal drug shipments across the Southwest Border. At the ports of entry,
                         about 1,300 INS and 2,000 Customs inspectors are to check incoming
                         traffic to identify both persons and contraband that are not allowed to
                         enter the country. Between the ports of entry and along thoroughfares in
                         border areas, about 6,300 INS Border Patrol agents are to detect and
                         prevent the illegal entry of persons and contraband.

                         The corruption of INS or Customs employees is not a new phenomenon,
                         and the 1990s have seen congressional emphasis on ensuring employee
                                                               2
                         integrity and preventing corruption. A corrupt INS or Customs employee
                         at or between the ports of entry can help facilitate the safe passage of
                         illegal drug shipments. The integrity policies and procedures adopted by
                         INS and Customs are designed to ensure that their employees, especially
                         those in positions that could affect the smuggling of illegal drugs into the
                         United States, are of acceptable integrity and, failing that, to detect any
                         corruption as quickly as possible.

                         Our report objectives were to (1) determine the extent to which INS and
Objectives, Scope, and   Customs have and comply with policies and procedures for ensuring
Methodology              employee integrity; (2) identify and compare the Departments of Justice’s
                         and the Treasury’s organizational structures, policies, and procedures for
                         handling allegations of drug-related employee misconduct and determine
                         whether the policies and procedures are followed; (3) identify the types of
                         illegal drug-related activities in which INS and Customs employees on the
                         Southwest Border have been involved; and (4) determine the extent to
                         which lessons learned from corruption cases closed in fiscal years 1992
                         through 1997 have led to changes in policies and procedures for preventing
                         the drug-related corruption of INS and Customs employees.


                         2
                          During the 1970s, the Justice Department conducted a comprehensive investigation of corruption in
                         INS called Operation Clean Sweep. During the 1990s, the Customs Service’s Blue Ribbon Panel
                         reviewed corruption on the Southwest Border.




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                        We did our review in Washington, D.C., at the Department of Justice’s OIG,
                        INS’ Office of Internal Audit, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation
                        (FBI); and the Department of the Treasury’s Customs Service, Office of
                        Internal Affairs, and OIG. We also visited and/or obtained data from
                        several offices with Southwest Border responsibilities, including the El
                        Paso and San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA, and Phoenix, AZ; INS district
                        offices; the El Paso, Laredo, TX, and San Diego Border Patrol Sector
                        offices; the Customs Management Centers (CMC) in El Paso, Laredo, San
                        Diego, and Tucson, AZ; and Justice OIG offices in El Paso, McAllen, TX,
                        Tucson, and San Diego.

                         To answer these objectives, we used various methods. We (1) interviewed
                        appropriate agency officials, (2) reviewed documents containing relevant
                        policies and procedures, (3) reviewed training information for selected INS
                        and Customs employees in the above locations, (4) analyzed computerized
                        personnel data on background investigations and reinvestigations of
                        selected inspectors and agents in the above locations, (5) conducted
                        structured file reviews of drug-related allegation cases, and (6) reviewed
                        the case files for all INS and Customs Southwest Border employees who
                        were convicted of drug-related crimes in fiscal years 1992 through 1997.
                        For a more detailed discussion of our objectives, scope, and methodology,
                        see appendix I.

                        We performed our work from January through November 1998 in
                        accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We
                        requested written comments on a draft of this report from the Attorney
                        General and the Secretary of the Treasury. Comments from Justice, Justice
                        OIG, and Customs are summarized at the end of this letter and are
                        contained in appendixes VI, VII, and VIII.

                        While both INS and Customs had various integrity-related procedures in
INS’ And Customs’       place, their compliance with these procedures varied. Like Justice’s and
Compliance With Their   Treasury’s other federal law enforcement agencies, both INS and Customs
Integrity Procedures    seek to ensure the integrity of their personnel by conducting background
                        investigations and reinvestigations and requiring employees to undergo
Varied                  basic integrity training. Both INS and Customs completed nearly all
                        background investigations for new hires by the end of their first year on
                        the job, as required. However, reinvestigations required at 5-year intervals
                        were typically overdue, in some cases, by as many as 3 years. For the
                        employee files that we reviewed, INS and Customs generally complied
                        with procedures requiring new employees to receive basic integrity
                        training. Integrity training requirements vary among Justice and Treasury
                        agencies. For example, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration



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                            (DEA), and the Secret Service require employees to receive basic and
                                       3
                            advanced integrity training. INS and Customs provide basic and advanced
                            integrity training but do not require employees to take the advanced
                            training. According to the Justice OIG, INS, and Customs officials,
                            advanced integrity training reinforces the integrity concepts presented
                            during basic training. However, over two-thirds of the INS and almost one-
                            quarter of the Customs employees on the Southwest Border with anti-drug
                            smuggling responsibilities that we sampled did not elect to take advanced
                            integrity training during the almost 2 ½ -year period we examined.

                            None of the five law enforcement agencies required all of their field agents
                            to file annual financial disclosure statements or to relocate periodically for
                            integrity assurance purposes. See appendix II for a comparison of the
                            integrity requirements for INS, Customs, and other selected law
                            enforcement agencies’ field agents.

INS and Customs Generally   INS and Customs follow Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
                            regulations, which require background investigations to be completed for
Completed Background        new hires by the end of their first year on the job. Contractors performed
Investigations For New      the investigations on behalf of INS and Customs, who made the final
Hires On Time               determinations on suitability. Prospective employees provided background
                            information and authorization to obtain personal information to conduct
                            the investigation. Generally, the background investigations included a
                            credit check, criminal record check, contact with prior employers and
                            personal references, and an interview with the prospective employee. Our
                            review found that background investigations for over 99 percent of the
                            immigration inspectors, Border Patrol agents, and Customs inspectors
                            hired during the first half of fiscal year 1997 were completed by the end of
                                                        4
                            their first year on the job.

INS and Customs Did Not     OPM also requires immigration inspectors, Border Patrol agents, and
                            Customs inspectors to be reinvestigated at 5-year intervals from the date
Complete Most               they enter on duty. The objective of these reinvestigations is to ensure
Reinvestigations When Due   these employees’ continuing suitability for their positions. As with
                            background investigations, contractors did the reinvestigations and INS

                            3
                             For this report, advanced integrity training is any nonmanagerial integrity training provided to
                            employees following their completion of basic training.
                            4
                             We restricted our analysis of immigration inspectors and Border Patrol agents hired in fiscal year 1997
                            to those hired by March 8, 1997, and of Customs inspectors hired in fiscal year 1997 to those hired by
                            March 25, 1997. This is because we received personnel data current as of March 1998, the 1-year
                            anniversaries of those dates, and because OPM allows agencies to employ individuals in a “subject to
                            investigation” status for up to 1 year. A background investigation should be completed during that
                            time.




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                                        and Customs were responsible for making the final determinations on
                                        suitability. However, as shown in table 1, INS and Customs did not
                                        complete reinvestigations within the required 5-year time frame for over
                                        three-fourths of the selected Southwest Border personnel scheduled for
                                        reinvestigations in fiscal years 1995 through 1997. In many instances,
                                        reinvestigations were more than 3 years overdue. To the extent that a
                                        reinvestigation constitutes an important periodic check on an employee’s
                                        continuing suitability for employment in a position where he or she may be
                                        exposed to bribery or other types of corruption, the continuing
                                        reinvestigation backlogs at both agencies leave them more vulnerable to
                                        potential employee corruption.


Table1: INS and Customs Compliance With the 5-year Reinvestigation Requirement for Selected Southwest Border Personnel
as of March 1998
                                                             Reinvestigations
                                        Completed when due             Not completed when due              Needing to be
                     Required to be                                                                      completed as of
                                   a
Agency                  completed       Number           Percent           Number            Percent          March 1998
INS                           1,218          280               23             938                 77                 513
Customs                         782          161               21             621                 79                 421
                                        a
                                         Includes reinvestigations due in fiscal years 1995 through 1997.
                                        See appendix V for further detail on INS and Customs reinvestigations.
                                        Source: GAO analysis of INS and Customs Service data.


                                        As of March 1998, INS had not yet completed 513 overdue reinvestigations
                                        of immigration inspectors and Border Patrol agents. According to the
                                        Justice OIG, INS’ reinvestigation backlog has been a continuing concern,
                                        and its neglect of reinvestigations is “historic.” In a September 1995 report,
                                        the Justice OIG noted that INS performed reinvestigations principally on
                                        individuals with access to national security information. Generally, this
                                        excluded INS inspectors and Border Patrol agents from reinvestigation.

                                        As of March 1998, Customs had a backlog of 421 overdue reinvestigations.
                                        According to a Customs official, several factors contributed to this
                                        backlog. First, when reinvestigations are scheduled, employees are
                                        required to complete and return the forms needed to initiate the
                                        reinvestigation to the Office of Internal Affairs. However, the official said
                                        that inspectors had been lax in returning required information to allow the
                                        reinvestigations to proceed. According to another Customs official,
                                        Customs has revised its procedure for initiating reinvestigations to require
                                        concurrent notification of employees and their managers so that managers
                                        can help ensure timely responses. Second, in 1989 and 1992, respectively,
                                        the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) legally challenged
                                        Customs’ designation of sensitive positions requiring reinvestigation and



                                        Page 6                                                              GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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                               the need for some medical, financial, or drug-related information from
                               certain employees. According to Customs and NTEU officials, the litigation
                               led Customs to temporarily suspend reinvestigations. Third, Customs
                               officials told us that they had insufficient staff to complete the
                               reinvestigations on time.

INS and Customs Require        Newly hired immigration inspectors, Border Patrol agents, and Customs
                               inspectors are required to attend basic training. As part of their basic
Basic Integrity Training and   training, new employees are to receive training courses on integrity
Advocate Advanced              concepts and expected behavior, including ethical concepts and values,
Training                       ethical dilemmas and decisionmaking, and employee conduct
                               expectations. This integrity training provides the only required integrity
                               training for all immigration inspectors, Border Patrol agents, and Customs
                               inspectors. For Border Patrol agents, 7 of 744 basic training hours are
                               devoted to integrity training. For Customs inspectors, 8 of 440 basic
                               training hours are devoted to integrity training. INS immigration inspectors
                               are to receive integrity training as part of their basic training, but it is
                               interspersed with other training rather than provided as a separate course.
                               Therefore, we could not determine how many hours are devoted
                               specifically to integrity training.

                               We selected random samples of 100 immigration inspectors, 101 Border
                               Patrol agents, and 100 Customs inspectors to determine whether they
                               received integrity training as part of their basic training. Agency records
                               we reviewed showed that 95 of 100 immigration inspectors, all 101 Border
                               Patrol agents, and 88 of 100 Customs inspectors had received basic
                               training. According to INS and Customs officials, the remaining employees
                               likely received basic training, but it was not documented in their records.

Justice OIG, INS, and          Justice OIG, INS, and Customs officials advocated advanced integrity
                               training for their employees to reinforce the integrity concepts presented
Customs Provide Advanced       during basic training. The Justice OIG, INS’ Office of Internal Audit, and
Integrity Training             Customs provide advanced integrity training for INS and Customs
                               employees. For example, according to officials from the Justice OIG,
                               advanced integrity awareness training was provided to 2,552 INS
                               employees in fiscal year 1997. In addition, officials from INS’ Office of
                               Internal Audit said that since 1995, they have provided advanced integrity
                               training to over 3,000 INS employees on the Southwest Border. According
                               to Customs officials, between 1996 and 1998, over 5,000 Customs
                               employees received advanced integrity training.

                               While this advanced training has been available to immigration inspectors,
                               Border Patrol agents, and Customs inspectors, they were not required to



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                      take it nor any additional integrity training beyond what they received in
                      basic training. Consequently, some immigration inspectors, Border Patrol
                      agents, and Customs inspectors assigned to the Southwest Border had not
                      received any advanced integrity training in over 2 years.

                      Based on random samples of immigration inspectors, Border Patrol agents,
                      and Customs inspectors assigned to the Southwest Border, we found that
                      during fiscal years 1995 through 1997, 60 of 100 immigration inspectors
                      and 60 of 76 Border Patrol agents received no advanced integrity training
                                                                         5
                      during the almost 2 ½ – year period we examined. The Customs sample
                      showed that 24 of 100 Customs inspectors received no advanced integrity
                      training during this period. Thus, the agencies missed an opportunity to
                      reinforce integrity concepts with some of their employees.

                      The Departments of Justice and Treasury have established procedures for
Justice OIG And INS   handling allegations of employee misconduct. The Department of Justice’s
Generally Complied    OIG is generally responsible for investigating criminal allegations against
With Investigative    all INS employees, as well as noncriminal allegations against INS
                      employees above the GS-14 level. INS’ Office of Internal Audit is generally
Procedures, But       responsible for investigating noncriminal allegations involving employees
Customs’ Compliance   at the GS-14 level and below, as well as any allegations that have been
Was Uncertain         reviewed and referred by the Justice OIG.

                      In the Department of the Treasury, Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs is
                      responsible for investigating both criminal and noncriminal misconduct
                      allegations against Customs employees through the GS-14 level. Treasury’s
                      OIG is responsible for investigating criminal and noncriminal allegations
                      against higher-level Customs officials and all Office of Internal Affairs
                      staff.

                      The Justice OIG and Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs have formal
                      procedures for handling employee misconduct allegations. The areas
                      covered by the procedures include (1) reporting suspected misconduct, (2)
                      monitoring progress in the handling of allegations, (3) ensuring that
                      allegations receive an appropriate level of attention, (4) conducting
                      investigations, and (5) pursuing employee misconduct to an appropriate
                      prosecutorial or administrative end.

                      Misconduct allegations arise from numerous sources, including
                      confidential informants, cooperating witnesses, anonymous tipsters, and

                      5
                       INS did not provide us with requested training data for 25 of the 101 Border Patrol agents in our
                      sample.




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                              whistle-blowers. For example, whistle-blowers can report alleged
                              misconduct through the agencies’ procedures for reporting any suspected
                              wrongdoing. INS and Customs have policies that require employees to
                              report suspected wrongdoing. If an employee alleges retaliation, he or she
                              is referred to the Office of Special Counsel, which has specific legislative
                              responsibility for handling retaliation cases.

                              Information on the funding, staffing, and the number of allegations
                              received by the Justice OIG, INS’ Office of Internal Audit, the Treasury
                              OIG, and Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs during fiscal years 1995
                              through 1997 is presented in appendix III.

Justice OIG and INS Office    In a majority of the cases we reviewed, the Justice OIG complied with its
                              procedures for receiving, investigating, and resolving drug-related
of Internal Audit Generally   employee misconduct allegations. To determine compliance with
Complied With Their           investigative procedures, we randomly selected 72 of 91 cases alleging
Investigative Procedures      drug-related misconduct by INS employees on the Southwest Border that
                              were opened and closed by the Justice OIG during fiscal year 1997. We
                              selected five Justice OIG procedures to evaluate compliance with the
                              processing of employee misconduct allegations. As shown in table 2, for
                              example, monthly interim reports were prepared as required in 28 of 39
                              opened cases. In the remaining 11 cases, either some interim reports were
                              missing or there were no interim reports in the case files.

                              INS’ Office of Internal Audit complied with its procedures for receiving
                              and resolving employee misconduct allegations in all of its cases. We
                              reviewed all 37 allegations involving INS Southwest Border employees
                              opened and closed by INS’ Office of Internal Audit during fiscal year 1997.
                              We identified five processing steps that apply to allegation processing by
                              INS’ Office of Internal Audit and determined if the 37 cases complied with
                              applicable requirements. As shown in table 2, all 37 allegations were
                              entered into an automated, centralized database and were evaluated for
                              investigation, referred to local management, or referred to the Justice OIG.




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Table 2: Compliance With Selected
Procedures for a Sample of Allegations                                                                          Compliance
Involving INS Southwest Border                                                                               (number of cases)
Employees, Opened and Closed During                                                Number of                                 Could not
Fiscal Year 1997 by Justice OIG or INS’   Description of procedure               sample cases               Yes       No    determinea
Office of Internal Audit                  Justice OIG:
                                          1. The allegation was entered                        72             72
                                          into an automated, centralized
                                          database.
                                          2. The allegation was evaluated                      72             72
                                          for investigation, referred to INS,
                                          or closed without referral.
                                          3. The monthly memoranda of                          39             28       9             2
                                          investigative activity were
                                          prepared.
                                          4. The final investigation report                    39             36       3
                                          was completed and reviewed.
                                          5. The final investigation report                     3                3
                                          was sent to INS for action
                                          and/or review.
                                          INS Office of Internal Audit:
                                          1. The allegation was entered                        37             37
                                          into an automated, centralized
                                          database.
                                          2. The allegation was evaluated                      37             37
                                          for investigation, referred to
                                          local management, or referred
                                          to the Justice OIG.
                                           3. An investigation was initiated                None
                                          by INS and completed within the
                                          required time period.
                                          4. A report was sent to the                       None
                                          appropriate local management
                                          official when investigation
                                          supported administrative action,
                                          and a response was received
                                          within the required time period.
                                          5. INS determined whether the                     None
                                          investigated case involved
                                          systemic weaknesses.
                                          a
                                          Information needed to determine compliance was not in the case file.
                                          Source: GAO review of Justice OIG and INS Office of Internal Audit data.


Customs’ Compliance With                  Because Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs’ automated case management
                                          system did not track adherence to Customs’ processing requirements, we
Investigative Processing                  could not readily determine if the Office of Internal Affairs staff complied
Procedures Is Uncertain                   with their investigative procedures.




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                                         Customs’ automated system is the official investigative record. It tracks
                                         and categorizes misconduct allegations and resulting investigations and
                                         disciplinary action. The investigative case files are to support the
                                         automated system in tracking criminal investigative activity and contain
                                         such information as printed records from the automated system, copies of
                                         subpoenas and arrest warrants, and a chronology of investigative events.
                                         Based on these content criteria and our file reviews, the investigative case
                                         files are not intended to and generally do not document the adherence to
                                         processing procedures.

                                         We selected 10 Office of Internal Affairs’ procedures to evaluate their
                                         compliance with the processing of employee misconduct allegations. For
                                         example, the procedures require that allegations be recorded in the
                                         automated system as soon as feasible and approved by three supervisors,
                                         including a headquarters manager, within specified time frames. We
                                         randomly selected 51 of the 71 drug-related cases involving Customs
                                         Southwest Border employees that were opened and closed in fiscal year
                                         1997 to determine if the Office of Internal Affairs complied with the 10
                                         procedures. As shown in table 3, the files did not contain any data to
                                         enable us to determine whether the Office of Internal Affairs complied
                                         with six procedures. For three procedures, the Office of Internal Affairs
                                         complied with the requirements for all cases. For the remaining procedure,
                                         the Office of Internal Affairs complied for two-thirds of the cases.

Table 3: Compliance With Selected
Procedures for a Sample of Allegations                                                               Compliance
Involving Customs Southwest Border                                                 Number of      (number of cases)
Employees, Opened and Closed During                                                applicable                     Could not
Fiscal Year 1997 by Customs’ Office of   Description of procedures                     cases    Yes       No    determinea
Internal Affairs                         1. The allegation was entered into an             51    34        17
                                         automated, centralized database
                                         within the required time period.
                                         2. Field supervisors and the                     51                            51
                                         responsible headquarters manager
                                         approved entry of the allegation into
                                         the automated system for tracking.
                                         3. The alleged wrongdoing and the                51     51
                                         viability of investigative leads were
                                         assessed.
                                         4. The allegation was categorized on             51                            51
                                         the basis of its severity.
                                         5. Specific criteria were considered in          51                            51
                                         determining whether the allegation
                                         warranted formal investigation.
                                         6. The allegation was approved for                2                             2
                                         formal investigation.
                                         7. Field supervisors conducted                    2      2
                                         periodic reviews.




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                                                                                                       Compliance
                                                                             Number of              (number of cases)
                                                                             applicable                             Could not
                                Description of procedures                        cases            Yes       No    determinea
                                8. A final investigation report was                   2              2
                                prepared within the required time
                                period.
                                9. Management was notified of the                        2                                   2
                                investigation’s completion and that
                                action was required.
                                10. Management notified the                              2                                   2
                                investigated employee of the action to
                                be taken within the required time
                                period.
                                aInformation was not available in the automated system or the case file.
                                Source: GAO review of Customs data.


                                Despite INS and Customs integrity procedures to prevent drug-related
Opportunities to Learn          corruption, 28 INS and Customs employees on the Southwest Border were
Lessons From Closed             convicted for drug-related crimes in fiscal years 1992 through 1997. By
Corruption Cases Have           definition, these cases represented a failure of the procedures in place to
                                prevent drug-related corruption. These cases also represented an
Been Missed                     opportunity to identify internal control weaknesses and to improve agency
                                integrity procedures. However, the Justice OIG and Customs did not take
                                advantage of the opportunity to learn lessons from these cases. Our
                                analysis of the 28 cases identified several weaknesses in internal controls
                                and integrity procedures. Appendix IV provides a summary of each of the
                                28 cases we reviewed.

Convicted INS and Customs       Our analysis of the 28 closed cases revealed that drug-related corruption in
                                these cases is not restricted to any one type, location, agency, or job.
Employees Had Varied            Corruption occurred in many locations and under various circumstances
Employment Histories            and times, underscoring the need for comprehensive integrity procedures
                                that are effective.

                                The 28 INS and Customs employees engaged in one or more drug-related
                                criminal activities including

                            •   waving drug-laden vehicles through ports of entry,
                            •   coordinating the movement of drugs across the Southwest Border,
                            •   transporting drugs past Border Patrol checkpoints,
                            •   selling drugs, and
                            •   disclosing drug intelligence information.




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                                        The 28 convicted employees (19 INS employees and 9 Customs employees)
                                        were stationed at various locations on the Southwest Border. Six each
                                        were stationed in El Paso, TX, and Calexico, CA; four were stationed in
                                        Douglas, AZ; three were stationed in San Ysidro, CA; two each were
                                        stationed in Hidalgo, TX, and Los Fresnos, TX; and one each was stationed
                                        in Naco, AZ, Chula Vista, CA, Bayview, TX, Harlingen, TX, and Falfurrias,
                                        TX.

Figure 1: Southwest Border Duty Stations of INS and Customs Employees Who Were Convicted for Drug-Related Crimes,
Fiscal Years 1992 Through 1997.




                                        Source: GAO review of INS, Justice OIG, FBI, and Customs files.


                                        The 28 INS and Customs employees who were convicted for drug-related
                                        crimes included 10 immigration inspectors, 7 Customs inspectors, 6 Border
                                        Patrol agents, 3 INS Detention Enforcement Officers (DEO), 1 Customs
                                        canine enforcement officer, and 1 Customs operational analysis specialist.
                                        All but three of these employees had anti-drug smuggling responsibilities.
                                        Twenty-six of the convicted employees were men; two were women. As




                                        Page 13                                                           GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
                                       B-279286




                                       shown in table 4, the employment histories of the convicted employees
                                       varied substantially.

Table 4: Selected Employment Data on
INS and Customs Employees Convicted                                                                      Range
of Drug-Related Crimes, Fiscal Years   Selected data                                                    Low          High        Average
1992 Through 1997                      Age at termination                                                 26           56             38
                                       Years with agency                                                   1           21             10
                                       Years at last duty station                                          1           15              7
                                       Source: INS, Justice OIG, Customs, and FBI data.


                                       In 19 cases, the employees acted alone, that is, no other INS or Customs
                                       employees were involved in the drug-related criminal activity. In the
                                       remaining nine cases, two or more INS and/or Customs employees acted
                                       together. Of the 28 cases, 23 originated from information provided by
                                       confidential informants or cooperating witnesses, and 5 cases originated
                                       from information provided by agency whistle-blowers. Prison sentences
                                       for the convicted employees ranged from 30 days, for disclosure of
                                       confidential information, to life imprisonment for drug conspiracy, money
                                                                                                           6
                                       laundering, and bribery. The average sentence was about 10 years.

Drug-Related Corruption                Both the Justice OIG and Customs procedures require them to formally
                                       report internal control weaknesses identified during investigations,
Cases Were Not Used To                 including drug-related corruption investigations involving INS and
Learn Lessons                          Customs employees. Generally, the Justice OIG and Customs Office of
                                       Internal Affairs, respectively, have lead responsibility for investigating
                                       criminal allegations involving INS and Customs employees. Reports of
                                       internal control weaknesses are to identify any lessons to be learned that
                                       can be used to prevent further employee corruption. The reports are to be
                                       forwarded to agency officials who are responsible for taking corrective
                                       action. Reports are not required if no internal control weaknesses are
                                       identified.

                                       In the 28 cases involving INS or Customs employees who were convicted
                                       for drug-related crimes in fiscal years 1992 through 1997, no reports were
                                       prepared. We are left to conclude from this that either (1) there were no
                                       internal control weaknesses revealed by, or lessons to be learned from,
                                       these corruption cases or (2) opportunities to identify and correct internal
                                       control weaknesses have been missed, and thus, INS’ and Customs’
                                       vulnerability to employee corruption has not been reduced.

                                       6
                                        The average prison sentence calculation does not include two former employees sentenced to life
                                       imprisonment, and one former employee who fled the country prior to sentencing. Information is
                                       provided only on the imprisonment portion of the sentences.




                                       Page 14                                                            GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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Justice’s OIG investigated 13 of the 28 cases. The investigative files did not
document if procedures were reviewed to identify internal control
weaknesses. Further, there were no reports identifying internal control
weaknesses. According to a Justice OIG official, no reports are required if
no weaknesses are identified, and he could not determine why reports
were not prepared in these cases.

Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs’ Internal Affairs Handbook provides for
the preparation of a procedural deficiency report in those internal
investigations where there was a significant failure that resulted from (1)
failure to follow an established procedure, (2) lack of an established
procedure, or (3) conflicting or obsolete procedures. The report is to detail
the causal factors and scope of the deficiency. The appropriate Customs
manager is to be charged with developing and implementing the corrective
procedures, and the Management Inspections Division is to track the
corrective procedures and coordinate with the appropriate manager to
ensure continuing compliance.

We identified eight cases involving Customs employees investigated by
Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs. No procedural deficiency reports were
prepared in these cases. Further, the investigative files did not document
whether internal control weaknesses were identified. A Customs official
said the reports are generally not prepared.

Although the Justice OIG and Customs Office of Internal Affairs have lead
responsibility for investigating allegations involving INS and Customs
employees, the FBI is authorized to investigate INS or Customs employees.
Of the 28 cases, the FBI investigated 7 involving 6 INS employees and 1
Customs employee. Under current procedures, the FBI is not required to
provide the Justice OIG or Customs Office of Internal Affairs with case
information that would allow them to identify internal control weaknesses,
where the FBI investigation involves an INS or Customs employee. In
addition, while Attorney General memorandums require the FBI to identify
and report any internal control weaknesses identified during white-collar
or health care fraud investigations, a Justice Department official told us
that these reporting requirements do not apply to drug-related corruption
cases. According to FBI officials, no reports were prepared in the seven
cases because they were not required.




Page 15                                              GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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Our Review of Closed        The Justice OIG and Customs did not identify and report any internal
                            control weaknesses involving the procedures that were followed at the
Corruption Cases Revealed   ports of entry and at Border Patrol checkpoints along the Southwest
Internal Control            Border. Our review of the same cases identified several weaknesses.
Weaknesses on the
Southwest Border            We identified 14 cases in which INS or Customs inspectors knowingly
                            passed drug-laden vehicles through ports of entry. Traditionally, INS and
                            Customs have relied on internal controls to minimize this type of
                            corruption. These have included the random assignment and shifting of
                            inspectors from one lane to another and the unannounced inspection of a
                            group of vehicles. However, in the cases we reviewed, these internal
                            controls did not prevent corrupt INS and Customs personnel from allowing
                            drug-laden vehicles to enter the United States. In some cases, the
                            inspectors communicated their lane assignment and the time they would
                            be on duty to the drug smuggler, and in other cases, they did not. In one
                            case, for example, an inspector used a cellular telephone to send a
                            prearranged code to a drug smuggler’s beeper to tell him which lane to use
                            and what time to use it. In contrast, another inspector did not notify the
                            drug smuggler concerning his lane assignment or the times he would be on
                            duty. In that case, the drug smuggler used an individual, referred to as a
                            spotter, to conduct surveillance of the port of entry. The spotter used a
                            cellular telephone to contact the driver of the drug-laden vehicle to tell him
                            which lane to drive through.

                            The drug smugglers’ schemes succeeded in these cases because the drivers
                            of the drug-laden vehicles could choose the lane they wanted to use for
                            inspection purposes. These cases support the implementation of one or
                            more methods to deprive drivers of their choice of inspection lanes at
                            ports of entry. At the time of our review, Customs was testing a method to
                            assign drivers to inspection lanes at ports of entry.

                            In 10 of 28 cases, drug smugglers relied on friendships, personal
                            relationships, or symbols of law enforcement authority to move drug loads
                            through a port of entry or past a Border Patrol checkpoint. In these 10
                            cases, drug smugglers believed that coworkers, relatives, and friends of
                            Customs or immigration inspectors, or law enforcement officials, would
                            not be inspected or would be given preferential treatment in the inspection
                            process. For example, a Border Patrol agent relied on his friendships with
                            his coworkers to avoid inspection at a Border Patrol checkpoint where he
                            was stationed. In another case, an inspector agreed to allow her boyfriend
                            to smuggle drugs through a port of entry. The boyfriend used his personal
                            and intimate relationship with the inspector to solicit drug shipments from
                            drug dealers. Two DEOs working together used INS detention buses and



                            Page 16                                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
                            B-279286




                            vans to transport drugs past a Border Patrol checkpoint. In two separate
                            cases, former INS employees relied on friendships they had developed
                            during their tenure with the agency to smuggle drugs through ports of
                            entry and past Border Patrol checkpoints.

                            INS and Customs do not have written recusal policies concerning the
                            performance of inspections where the relationship of immigration or
                            Customs inspectors and Border Patrol agents to the person being
                            inspected is such that they may not objectively perform the inspection.
                            Nor do they have a written inspection policy for law enforcement officers
                            or their vehicles. For example, our review determined that on numerous
                            occasions, INS DEOs drove INS vehicles with drug loads past Border
                            Patrol checkpoints without being inspected.

INS and Customs Have Not    INS and Customs have not evaluated the effectiveness of their integrity
                            assurance procedures to identify areas that could be improved. According
Evaluated Their Integrity   to Justice OIG, INS, and Customs officials, agency integrity procedures
Procedures                  have not been evaluated to determine if they are effective. The Acting
                            Deputy Commissioner of Customs said that there were no evaluations of
                            the effectiveness of Customs integrity procedures. Similarly, officials in
                            INS’ Offices of Internal Audit and Personnel Security said that there are no
                            evaluations of the effectiveness of INS’ integrity procedures. According to
                            the Justice Inspector General, virtually no work had been done to review
                            closed corruption cases or interview convicted employees to identify areas
                            of vulnerability.

                            Based on our review, one way to evaluate the effectiveness of agency
                            integrity procedures would be to use drug-related investigative case
                            information. For example, the objective of background investigations or
                            reinvestigations is to determine an individual’s suitability for employment,
                            including whether he or she has the required integrity. All 28 of the INS
                            and Customs employees who were convicted for drug-related crimes
                            received background investigations or reinvestigations that determined
                            they were suitable. According to INS and Customs security officials,
                            financial information, required to be provided by employees as part of
                            their background investigations or reinvestigations, is to be used to
                            determine whether they appear to be living beyond their means, or have
                            unsatisfied debts. If either of these issues arises, it must be satisfactorily
                            resolved before INS or Customs can determine that the employee is
                            suitable. In addition, Justice policy provides for the temporary removal of




                            Page 17                                              GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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immigration inspectors and Border Patrol agents if they are unable and/or
                                 7
unwilling to satisfy their debts.

Our review of background investigation and reinvestigation files for
convicted INS employees showed that immigration inspectors and Border
Patrol agents were required to provide limited financial information on
liabilities, including bankruptcies, wage garnishment, property
repossession, and liens for taxes or other debts or judgements that have
                 8
not been paid. They were not required to provide information on their
assets. In comparison, Customs inspectors and canine enforcement
officers were required to provide information on both their assets and
liabilities, including financial information for themselves and their
immediate families on their bank accounts, automobiles, real estate,
securities, safe deposit boxes, business investments, art, boats, antiques,
                                                                    9
inheritance, mortgage, and debts and obligations exceeding $200.

Our review of the 28 cases involving convicted INS and Customs
employees disclosed that 26 of 28 employees were offered or received
financial remuneration for their illegal acts. At least two were substantially
indebted, and at least four were shown to be living beyond their means.
For example, one of the closed cases we reviewed involved an immigration
inspector who said he became involved with a drug smuggler because he
had substantial credit card debt and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Given
the limited financial information immigration inspectors are required to
provide, this inspector might not have been identified as a potential risk. In
another case, a GS-12 Border Patrol agent owned a house valued at
approximately $200,000, an Olympic-sized swimming pool in its own
separate building, a 5-car garage, 5 automobiles, 1 van, 2 boats,
approximately 100 weapons, $45,000 in treasury bills, 40 acres of land, and
had no debt. Given the current background investigation or reinvestigation
financial reporting requirements for Border Patrol agents, this agent would
not have had anything to report, since he was not required to report his
assets, and he had no debts to report.



7
Justice Department policy defines debt as “lawful financial obligations that are just debts that are past
due.”
8
Immigration inspectors and Border Patrol agents are to complete a Questionnaire for National
Security Positions as part of their background investigation and reinvestigation.
9
 Customs inspectors and canine enforcement officers are to complete a Questionnaire for Public Trust
Positions and a Financial Statement on Customs Form 257 as part of their background investigation
and reinvestigation.




Page 18                                                                GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
                           B-279286




                           Our review of Customs files for eight of the nine convicted Customs
                           employees showed that Customs inspectors and canine enforcement
                           officers completed financial disclosure statements that included their
                           assets and liabilities as part of their employee background investigations
                           and reinvestigations. However, based on our case file review, Customs
                           does not fully use all of the financial information. For example, according
                           to a Customs official, reported liabilities are to be compared with debts
                           listed on a credit report to determine if all debts were reported. Thus, their
                           current use of the reported financial information would not have helped to
                           identify an employee who was living well beyond his means or whose
                           debts were excessive.

                           Another source of evaluative information for INS and Customs could be
                           the experiences of other federal agencies with integrity prevention and
                           detection policies and procedures. For example, while INS’ and Customs’
                           procedures were similar to those used by other federal law enforcement
                           agencies, several differences exist. As shown in appendix II, according to
                           agency officials, INS and Customs did not require advanced integrity
                           training, polygraph examinations, or panel interviews before hiring, while
                           the FBI, DEA, and Secret Service did have these requirements. Among the
                           five agencies, only DEA required new employees to be assigned to a
                           mentor to reinforce agency values and procedures. Since these policies
                           and procedures are used by other agencies, INS and Customs may want to
                           consider their applicability to their employees.

Outcomes of Recent Anti-   During our review, the Justice OIG, INS, the Treasury OIG, and Customs
                           began to review their anticorruption efforts. These efforts have not been
Corruption Efforts Are     completed, and it is too early to determine what their outcomes will be.
Unknown
                           In May 1998, the Justice OIG established a Research and Analysis Unit to
                           identify critical management and enforcement issues, develop and
                           implement strategies and/or policy recommendations, and monitor and
                           measure their impact. This unit’s proposed projects include: (1) finding
                           ways to strengthen the Justice OIG’s role in controlling corruption on the
                           Southwest Border and (2) developing a nationwide integrity awareness
                           training program.

                           In February 1998, INS’ Office of Internal Audit created a Special
                           Investigations and Projects Branch, which is responsible for (1) developing
                           and implementing integrity training programs, (2) reviewing and analyzing
                           cases in which INS employees are arrested or indicted on drug or other
                           corruption charges, and (3) recommending corrective action, as needed.




                           Page 19                                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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              The Department of the Treasury has established an Office of Professional
              Responsibility (OPR) that was tasked with conducting a comprehensive
              review of integrity issues related to the potential vulnerability of Customs
              to corruption and to analyze the efficacy of departmental and bureau
                                       10
              internal affairs systems. According to a Treasury OPR official, these
              efforts are intended to identify weaknesses and to help prevent the
              corruption of Customs employees.

              Within Customs, at the time of our review, the Acting Deputy
              Commissioner of Customs was heading a task force to develop an Integrity
              Awareness Program. This task force included representatives from several
              offices, including those of Field Operations, Human Resources, and
              Internal Affairs. The Office of Internal Affairs had initiated an Integrity
              Indicator Research Program that is to provide a capability to identify
              human behavioral indicators of integrity characteristics to prevent and
              investigate propensities for misconduct and corruption. One of the
              intended benefits of this effort is to improve policies and procedures. The
              Office of Field Operations has initiated an Officer Integrity Project whose
              goal is to develop policies and processes that prevent corruption.

              These initiatives, aimed at improving integrity programs, are steps in the
              right direction. However, it is too early to tell what their outcomes will be
              and how well they will address shortcomings in both agencies’ internal
              control procedures for preventing employee corruption.

              Given the enormous sums of money being generated by drug trafficking,
Conclusions   the corruption of some INS and Customs employees along the Southwest
              Border is a serious and continuing threat. Both INS and Customs are
              vulnerable to this threat. This situation exists, in part, because neither INS
              nor Customs has fully availed itself of opportunities to better ensure the
              integrity of its employees. Neither agency has (1) completed evaluation of
              its policies and procedures to determine what works and what
              improvements are needed, (2) fully complied with its integrity policies and
              procedures, or (3) identified and corrected internal control weaknesses
              that surfaced during past corruption episodes. As a result, neither agency
              can be sure that adequate internal controls are in place to detect and
              prevent employee corruption.




              10
               An Assessment of Vulnerabilities to Corruption and Effectiveness of the Office of Internal Affairs,
              U.S. Customs Service, Department of the Treasury, Office of the Under Secretary (Enforcement),
              Office of Professional Responsibility, February 1999.




              Page 20                                                               GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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                    Neither the Justice OIG nor Customs Office of Internal Affairs documented
                    that they used closed drug-related corruption cases to identify weaknesses
                    and develop suitable internal controls. In addition, the FBI did not identify
                    and report internal control weaknesses in the cases it investigated because
                    it was not required to do so. Our review of closed drug-related corruption
                    cases identified internal control weaknesses that allowed (1) drug
                    smugglers to choose their inspection lanes at ports of entry; (2) law
                    enforcement officers and their vehicles to pass uninspected through ports
                    of entry and Border Patrol checkpoints; and (3) immigration inspectors,
                    Border Patrol agents, and Customs inspectors to inspect individuals with
                    whom they had close personal relationships.

                    INS did not require immigration inspectors and Border Patrol agents to
                    fully report their assets and liabilities. Consequently, INS lacked financial
                    information needed in background investigations and reinvestigations to
                    identify individuals who may have been living beyond their means.
                    Customs collected financial information including assets and liabilities
                    from Customs inspectors and canine enforcement officers as part of their
                    background investigations and reinvestigations. However, Customs did not
                    fully use the financial information to identify employees who appeared to
                    be living beyond their means.

                    We recommend that the Attorney General
Recommendations
                  • direct the Commissioner of INS to evaluate the effectiveness of integrity
                    assurance efforts such as training, background investigations, and
                    reinvestigations;
                  • require the Commissioner of INS to comply with policies that require
                    employment reinvestigations to be completed when they are due;
                  • direct the Commissioner of INS to strengthen internal controls at
                    Southwest Border ports of entry and at Border Patrol checkpoints by
                    establishing (1) one or more methods to deprive drivers of their choice of
                    inspection lanes at ports of entry; (2) a policy for the inspection of law
                    enforcement officers or their vehicles at ports of entry and Border Patrol
                    checkpoints; and (3) a recusal policy concerning the performance of
                    inspections by immigration inspectors and Border Patrol agents where
                    their objectivity may be in question;
                  • direct the Commissioner of INS to require Border Patrol agents and
                    immigration inspectors to file financial disclosure statements, including a
                    listing of their assets and liabilities, as part of the background investigation
                    or reinvestigation process, as well as fully review this information to
                    identify financial issues such as employees who appear to be living beyond
                    their means;



                    Page 21                                               GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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                  • require the Justice OIG to document that policies and procedures were
                    reviewed to identify internal control weaknesses in cases where an INS
                    employee is determined to have engaged in drug-related criminal activities;
                    and
                  • require the Director of the FBI to develop a procedure to provide
                    information from closed FBI cases, involving INS or Customs employees,
                    to the Justice OIG or Customs Office of Internal Affairs so they can
                    identify and report internal control weaknesses to the responsible agency
                    official. The procedure should only apply in those cases where (1) the
                    Justice OIG or Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs were not involved in the
                    investigation, (2) the subject of the investigation was an INS or Customs
                    employee, and (3) the employee was convicted of a drug-related crime.

                    We recommend that the Secretary of the Treasury

                  • direct the Commissioner of Customs to evaluate the effectiveness of
                    integrity assurance efforts, including training, background investigations,
                    and reinvestigations;
                  • require the Commissioner of Customs to comply with policies that require
                    employment reinvestigations to be completed when they are due;
                  • require the Commissioner of Customs to document that policies and
                    procedures were reviewed to identify internal control weaknesses, in
                    cases where a Customs employee is determined to have engaged in drug-
                    related criminal activities;
                  • direct the Commissioner of Customs to strengthen internal controls at
                    Southwest Border ports of entry by establishing (1) one or more methods
                    to deprive drivers of their choice of inspection lanes; (2) a policy for
                    inspection of law enforcement officers and their vehicles; and (3) a recusal
                    policy concerning the performance of inspections by Customs inspectors
                    where their objectivity may be in question; and
                  • require that Customs fully review financial disclosure statements, which
                    employees are required to provide as part of the background investigation
                    or reinvestigation process, to identify financial issues such as employees
                    who appear to be living beyond their means.

                    The Department of Justice generally agreed with the substance of the
Agency Comments     report and recognized the importance of taking all possible actions to
                    reduce the potential for corruption. However, Justice expressed
                    reservations about implementing two of the six recommendations
                    addressed to the Attorney General.

                    Justice expressed reservations about implementing our recommendation
                    that Border Patrol agents and immigration inspectors file financial



                    Page 22                                            GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
B-279286




disclosure statements as part of their background investigations or
reinvestigations. Specifically, it noted that implementing financial
disclosure “has obstacles to be met and at present the DOJ has limited data
to suggest that they would provide better data or greater assurance of a
person’s integrity.” The obstacles included obtaining Office of Management
and Budget approval of a form, labor organization negotiations, and the
potential need to develop financial verification procedures as part of
background investigations and reinvestigations. Justice also cited
Customs’ experience with financial reporting and litigation involving the
use of the financial disclosure reports.

We recognize that implementation of this recommendation will require
some administrative actions by INS. However, these actions are consistent
with the routine management practices associated with making policy
changes within the agency. Therefore, the obstacles do not appear to be
inordinate or insurmountable. Concerning the limited data about the
benefits of financial reporting, according to OPM officials and the
adjudication manual for background investigations and reinvestigations,
financial information can have a direct bearing and impact on determining
an individual’s integrity. The circumstances described in our case studies
suggest that financial reporting could have raised issues for followup
during a background investigation or reinvestigation. We recognize that
there may be questions on the effectiveness of this procedure; therefore,
this report contains a recommendation for an overall evaluation of INS’
integrity assurance efforts. Customs’ experience with the effectiveness of
financial reporting may have been limited by their limited analysis of the
data. In that regard, this report contains a recommendation that Customs
make full use of the information they already collect. Concerning Customs
litigation, financial reporting by Customs inspectors and canine
enforcement officers is not and has never been an issue in litigation,
according to Customs officials and the President and Deputy General
Counsel of the NTEU.

Justice also expressed reservations about implementing our
recommendation that the FBI develop a procedure to provide information
to the Justice OIG or Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs on internal control
weaknesses. Therefore, we clarified our recommendation to indicate that
the procedure should only apply in those cases where (1) the Justice OIG
or Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs were not involved in the
investigation, (2) the subject of the investigation was an INS or Customs
employee, and (3) the employee was convicted of a drug-related crime. If
internal control weaknesses in INS or Customs are known to the FBI and




Page 23                                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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not disclosed to those agencies, then the agencies are not in the best
position to correct the abuses.

Because there are potential sensitivity and liability issues involved in
disclosing investigative case-related information, our recommendation
gives the FBI the broadest possible latitude in determining how, when, and
what information it will disclose for the purpose of identifying and
correcting internal control weaknesses within INS or Customs. For
example, the procedure could include, as appropriate: (1) referring the
case for investigation to the Justice OIG, Customs Office of Internal
Affairs, or one of the corruption task forces on the Southwest Border; (2)
inviting the Justice OIG or Customs Office of Internal Affairs to participate
in the investigation; or (3) preparing a report that identified the internal
control weakness and providing it to the agency. According to FBI
officials, it routinely and regularly shares investigative case information
with the Justice OIG and Customs Office of Internal Affairs from cases
investigated by corruption task forces. Therefore, our recommendation is
within the realm of current FBI disclosure practices.

Justice accepted our recommendation that INS evaluate the effectiveness
of its integrity assurance efforts and indicated that a contractor was
evaluating INS’ integrity/ethics training. However, Justice’s response gave
no indication that it intended to evaluate its background investigations or
reinvestigations. INS needs to determine empirically for its integrity
assurance efforts what works and how well. The evaluation should include
an assessment of the extent to which each integrity procedure achieves the
objectives of preventing or identifying drug-related corruption. For
example, if an INS employee is convicted of a drug-related crime, INS
should determine whether the convicted employee’s background
investigation or reinvestigation contributed to identifying the individual.
Without such assessments, INS cannot ensure that its efforts are achieving
their objectives of preventing or identifying drug-related corruption.

Justice agreed with our recommendation that INS comply with policies to
complete employment reinvestigations when they are due, and we believe
that INS’ recent efforts to eliminate its reinvestigations backlog are steps
in the right direction. Once the backlog has been eliminated, INS should
continue to monitor and ensure that they are done on time.

Justice agreed with our recommendation that INS strengthen controls at
Southwest Border ports of entry and Border Patrol checkpoints. However,
the controls cited by INS do not appear fully responsive to our
recommendation because the controls INS plans to implement do not



Page 24                                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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deprive drivers of their choice of lanes at ports of entry. The cases we
reviewed showed that corrupt inspectors and drug smugglers had
developed numerous methods of bypassing existing internal controls,
particularly those controls related to denying drug smugglers knowledge of
the corrupt inspector’s lane assignment and duty time. With this
information, the drug smuggler could proceed directly to the corrupt
inspector’s lane and be passed without inspection.

The Justice OIG agreed with our recommendation concerning the need to
identify and document internal control weaknesses discovered during
criminal investigations of INS employees.

The Department of the Treasury provided comments from Customs that
generally concurred with our recommendations and indicated that they are
taking steps to implement them. However, Customs requested that we
reconsider our recommendation that Customs fully review financial
disclosure statements that are provided as part of the background and
reinvestigation process. Customs indicated that implementing this
recommendation may violate the provisions of the Computer Matching
Act. The Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988, P.L. 100-
503, generally requires that agencies engaging in computer matching must
do so pursuant to written matching agreements that state such things as
the purpose and legal authority of the match, the justification for the
matching program, its anticipated results, a description of the records to
be matched, as well as other information on the program. Our
recommendation expects Customs to make more thorough examination of
the financial information it collects to determine if employees appear to be
living beyond their means. We leave it to Customs’ discretion to determine
the type of examination to be performed. Since implementing the
recommendation does not require electronically matching financial
disclosure information with other data, there is no violation of the
Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act.

Justice’s , Justice’s OIG, and Customs’ comments are provided in
appendixes VI, VII, and VIII.

We are sending copies of this report to The Honorable Janet Reno,
Attorney General; and The Honorable Robert Rubin, Secretary of the




Page 25                                            GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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Treasury. Copies will also be made available to others upon request. Major
contributors to this report are listed in appendix IX.

Sincerely yours,




Richard M. Stana
Associate Director, Administration
  of Justice Issues




Page 26                                           GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Page 27   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Contents



Letter                                                                                1


Appendixes   Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                          30
             Appendix II: Mandatory Integrity Procedures for Selected                33
               INS, Customs, and Other Law Enforcement Agencies'
               Personnel
             Appendix III: Resources and Workload Data For Selected                  34
               Organizations
             Appendix IV: Summaries of Closed Cases Involving INS                    35
               or Customs Employees Convicted of Drug-Related
               Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992-1997
             Appendix V: Completion of Employment Background                         44
               Reinvestigations
             Appendix VI: Comments From the Department of Justice                    45
             Appendix VII: Comments From the Department of                           50
               Justice, Office of the Inspector General
             Appendix VIII: Comments From the Customs Service                        52
             Appendix IX: Major Contributors to This Report                          63


Tables       Table1: INS and Customs Compliance With the 5-year                       6
               Reinvestigation Requirement for Selected Southwest
               Border Personnel as of March 1998
             Table 2: Compliance With Selected Procedures for a                      10
               Sample of Allegations Involving INS Southwest Border
               Employees, Opened and Closed During Fiscal Year
               1997 by Justice OIG or INS’ Office of Internal Audit
             Table 3: Compliance With Selected Procedures for a                      11
               Sample of Allegations Involving Customs Southwest
               Border Employees, Opened and Closed During Fiscal
               Year 1997 by Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs
             Table 4: Selected Employment Data on INS and Customs                    14
               Employees Convicted of Drug-Related Crimes, Fiscal
               Years 1992 Through 1997
             Table II.1: Mandatory Integrity Procedures for Selected                 33
               INS, Customs, and Other Law Enforcement Agencies’
               Personnel as of June 1998
             Table III.1: Resource and Workload Data for Selected                    34
               Organizations Responsible for Investigating Alleged
               Wrongdoing by INS and Customs Employees, Fiscal
               Years 1995 Through 1997




             Page 28                                          GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
          Contents




          Table V.1: Completion of Employment Reinvestigations                           44
            Due in Fiscal Years 1995 Through 1997 for Southwest
            Border Customs Inspectors, INS Immigration
            Inspectors, and INS Border Patrol Agents


Figures   Figure 1: Southwest Border Duty Stations of INS and                            13
            Customs Employees Who Were Convicted for Drug-
            Related Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992 Through 1997.




          Abbreviations

          CMC           Customs Management Center
          DEA           Drug Enforcement Administration
          DEO           Detention Enforcement Officer
          FBI           Federal Bureau of Investigation
          FLETC         Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
          INS           Immigration and Naturalization Service
          NTEU          National Treasury Employees Union
          OIG           Office of the Inspector General
          OPM           Office of Personnel Management
          OPR           Office of Professional Responsiblity




          Page 29                                                 GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix I

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology


              In responding to your request, we adopted the following approach to meet
              the objectives agreed upon with your staff.

              We did our review at the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector
              General (OIG), the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s (INS) Office
              of Internal Audit, and at the Department of the Treasury’s Customs
              Service, Office of Internal Affairs, and OIG in Washington, D.C; and at
              several Southwest Border locations. These included INS district offices in
              El Paso, San Antonio, San Diego, and Phoenix; Border Patrol Sector offices
              in El Paso, Laredo, San Diego, and Tucson; Customs Management Center
              offices (CMC) in El Paso, Laredo, San Diego, and Tucson; and Justice OIG
              offices in McAllen, TX, El Paso, Tucson, and San Diego.

              To determine the extent to which INS and Customs have and comply with
              their policies and procedures to ensure employee integrity, we reviewed
              and analyzed agency-provided documentary and testimonial evidence and
              interviewed appropriate officials on agency policies and procedures, ethics
              and integrity training, personnel rotation, background investigations, and
              investigating allegations of wrongdoing. We also obtained information
              from INS, Customs, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug
              Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Secret Service on their
              mandatory integrity procedures for selected field personnel.

              We took various steps to verify whether employees had received integrity
              training. We selected random samples of 201 INS and 100 Customs
              employees. Our samples included 25 employees each from 7 of the INS and
              the 4 Customs offices mentioned above and 26 employees from 1 of the
              INS offices. Due to increased hiring in INS and Customs, we stratified
              employee positions into two categories—those who entered on duty
              during or prior to fiscal year 1997. For each of INS’ and Customs’ offices,
              we selected our samples based on the percentage of inspectors or Border
              Patrol agents in each category. We obtained information on whether they
              had received the required training at the Federal Law Enforcement
              Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia. For training provided at
              Customs’ CMCs, INS districts, and INS Border Patrol sectors, we
              interviewed relevant officials and obtained policies on ethics and integrity
              training at each of the Southwest Border locations selected. To verify
              whether ethics and integrity training had actually occurred, we obtained
              training information for the above-mentioned random samples of INS and
              Customs inspectors and Border Patrol agents in each location. Concerning
              background investigations, we analyzed INS and Customs computerized
              data on the most recent background investigations completed as of March
              1998 for all INS and Customs inspectors and Border Patrol agents at the



              Page 30                                            GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




above Southwest Border locations. We analyzed these data to assess the
extent to which policy requirements had been followed for initial
background investigations when personnel entered on duty and for
reinvestigations for personnel with sufficient years of service. We did not
independently verify the accuracy of the computerized personnel data
provided to us by INS and Customs to hard copy files. However, we did
perform some limited analyses (e.g., checked whether there were
duplicate entries for the same employees and whether the values for data
variables seemed generally reasonable) to determine whether the data
were reliable.

To identify and compare the Departments of Justice’s and the Treasury’s
organizational structures, policies, and procedures for handling allegations
of drug-related employee misconduct and determine whether the policies
and procedures are followed, we reviewed and analyzed applicable
program information from the respective departments and/or agencies and
interviewed relevant agency officials. In addition, we reviewed random
samples of drug-related allegations. These allegations were made about
INS and Customs Southwest Border personnel and were opened and
closed during fiscal year 1997 by the Justice OIG, INS’ Office of Internal
Audit, and Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs. We allowed the agencies to
define a drug-related allegation. We reviewed 72 of 91 allegations about
INS employees handled by the Justice OIG, all 37 allegations opened and
closed by INS’ Office of Internal Audit, and 51 of 71 cases handled by
Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs.

We developed structured data collection instruments and reviewed the
case files to determine whether these organizations followed their policies
and procedures. We relied on data from the agencies’ official automated or
hard copy case files that included processing information to determine
compliance with processing requirements.

To determine what types of illegal drug-related activities INS and Customs
employees on the Southwest Border have been involved in, we identified
employees who were convicted of drug-related crimes in fiscal years 1992
through 1997. We were unable to identify a single source for this
information. Therefore, we requested background information on previous
corruption efforts in INS and Customs; performed a literature search; and
requested the names of employees convicted of drug-related crimes from
Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs, Justice’s OIG, the FBI, and the Criminal
Division’s Public Integrity Section. From the information provided, we
developed a consolidated list of these individuals. To be included, an
individual had to have been (1) an INS or Customs employee during the



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Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




time he or she was determined to have engaged in criminal drug-related
activity and (2) convicted of a drug-related crime between October 1, 1991,
and September 30, 1997.

We requested and reviewed investigative files, personnel files, and
background investigation files for each individual in our study where they
were available. INS could not locate one personnel file, and the Office of
Personnel Management (OPM) had no record of a background
investigation for two INS employees. Customs could not locate the
background investigation file for one former employee. We collected the
same information on each individual to determine the drug-related
activities for which they were convicted. We also collected information on
the methods used to carry out the illegal activities, their occupations, how
their illegal activities were brought to the attention of investigative
authorities, their lengths of agency service, their final duty stations, and
the lengths of their prison sentences. We summarized the information from
all of the cases.

To determine the extent to which lessons learned from corruption cases
closed in fiscal years 1992 through 1997 have led to changes in policies and
procedures for preventing the drug-related corruption of INS and Customs
employees, we interviewed agency officials to identify what policies or
procedures had been changed as a result of specific drug-related
corruption cases. Agency procedures provide for the preparation of
internal control weakness reports only if a weakness is identified during
the criminal investigation. Because there were no reports that would have
led to policy or procedural changes, we reviewed the agencies’
investigative case files to determine if there were any internal control
weaknesses that could have been identified from the cases involving
convicted INS or Customs employees. We reviewed each case individually
and then grouped cases that involved similar criminal activities and
reviewed them for patterns that could identify weaknesses.




Page 32                                            GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix II

Mandatory Integrity Procedures for Selected
INS, Customs, and Other Law Enforcement
Agencies' Personnel
Table II.1: Mandatory Integrity
Procedures for Selected INS, Customs,                                                                                             Secret
                                                                a
and Other Law Enforcement Agencies’     Integrity procedures                               INS      Customs       FBI    DEA      Service
Personnel as of June 1998               Basic training                                     X        X             X      X        X
                                        Advanced integrity training                                               X      X        X
                                        Management integrity training                      X        X             X      X        X
                                        Background investigation                           X        X             X      X        X
                                        5-year reinvestigation                             X        X             X      X        X
                                        Subscribe to the Federal Code of Conduct           X        X             X      X        X
                                        Subscribe to the Federal Code of Ethics            X        X             X      X        X
                                        Drug testing before hire                           X        X             X      X        X
                                        Random drug testing                                X        X             X      X        X
                                        Suitability or psychological testing               X        X             X      X
                                        Polygraph examination                                                     X      X        X
                                                                                           b
                                        Panel interview before hire                                               X      X        X
                                        Employee certification of understanding
                                        Standards of Conduct                                        X             X      X        X
                                        Whistle-blower procedures                          X        X             X      X        X
                                        Organization that receives and resolves
                                        allegations of employee wrongdoing                 X        X             X      X        X
                                        Proactive undercover operations                                           X      X
                                        Mentor program                                                                   X
                                        a
                                         The selected personnel include DEA, FBI, and Secret Service special agents, INS’ immigration
                                        inspectors and Border Patrol agents, and Customs’ inspectors and canine enforcement officers.
                                        b
                                        The requirement applies to Border Patrol agent job applicants, but not to immigration inspector job
                                        applicants.
                                        Source: INS, Customs, the FBI, DEA, and Secret Service information.




                                        Page 33                                                              GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix III

Resources and Workload Data For Selected
Organizations

Table III.1: Resource and Workload Data
for Selected Organizations Responsible                                                             Fiscal Year               Percent change
for Investigating Alleged Wrongdoing by                                                                                      from fiscal year
INS and Customs Employees, Fiscal                                                                                               1995 to fiscal
Years 1995 Through 1997                   Description                                       1997        1996        1995           year 1997
                                          INS employees:
                                          Justice OIG
                                            Funding (in millions)                          $10.5        $10.4      $10.4                    1.0
                                            Staff positions                                   81           75         80                    1.3
                                            Allegations received                           2,415        2,121      1,999                   20.8

                                          INS Office of Internal Audit
                                            Funding (in millions)                           $2.3         $1.1       $0.9                   156
                                            Staff positions                                   13            7          5                   160
                                            Allegations received                           2,866        1,813      1,558                    84

                                          Customs employees:
                                                        a
                                          Treasury OIG
                                           Funding (in millions)                           $4.93        $4.16      $4.91                    0.4
                                           Staff positions                                    33           37         39                  -15.4
                                           Allegations received                             107          139        146                   -26.7
                                                                     a
                                          Customs Internal Affairs
                                           Funding (in millions)                           $38.7        $35.4      $32.7                18.3%
                                           Staff positions                                   283          290        286                  -1.0
                                           Allegations received                            2,198        2,506      2,367                  -7.1
                                          a
                                           The data shown for the Treasury OIG and Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs are for both criminal and
                                          administrative misconduct allegations handled by the agencies. Neither agency’s records permitted us
                                          to reliably estimate the allocation of resource use between criminal and administrative allegations.
                                          Source: Justice OIG, INS, Treasury OIG, and Customs data.




                                          Page 34                                                               GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix IV

Summaries of Closed Cases Involving INS or
Customs Employees Convicted of Drug-
Related Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992-1997
                        This appendix summarizes each of the cases involving 28 individual INS or
                        Customs employees assigned to the Southwest Border who were convicted
                        of drug-related crimes in fiscal years 1992 through 1997. The cases are
                        grouped by the type of criminal activity in which each individual was
                        principally engaged.

                        Case 1
Waving Drug-Laden
Vehicles Through a      A Customs inspector assigned to San Ysidro, CA, conspired to wave a load
Port of Entry Without   of cocaine through the port and provided sensitive law enforcement
                        information to drug smugglers. Both prior to and during work, the
Inspection              inspector communicated information about his shift and lane assignments
                        to drug smugglers by telephone and pager. The smugglers planned to use
                        the information to ensure that the drug load passed through the inspector’s
                        lane while he was on duty. He was convicted of conspiracy to import
                        cocaine and sentenced to 15 years and 8 months imprisonment.

                        Case 2

                        An immigration inspector assigned to El Paso, TX, was recruited by his
                        brother-in-law to assist in smuggling marijuana and cocaine through the
                        port of entry. For several years, the inspector provided the drug smugglers
                        with his scheduled duty time and lane assignments using a pay telephone
                        or cellular telephone. On occasion, the smugglers drove to the inspector’s
                        lane where the inspector would hand the driver a piece of paper giving the
                        lanes and times he would be on duty. The smugglers drove their vehicles,
                        loaded with up to 1,000 pounds of marijuana each, to the inspector’s lane
                        and were waved through the port of entry without inspection. The
                        investigation established that the inspector was living beyond his means.
                        He was convicted of conspiracy to import marijuana, importation of
                        marijuana, and bribery. Prior to his sentencing, the inspector was released
                        on bond. He fled and remains a fugitive.

                        Case 3

                        An immigration inspector assigned to Calexico, CA, waved drug-laden
                        vehicles through his lane at the port of entry over a period of about 2
                        years. The investigation established that he paid over $25,000 cash for a
                        new motor vehicle. The inspector pled guilty to conspiracy to launder
                        monetary instruments and was sentenced to 6 years and 6 months
                        imprisonment.




                        Page 35                                            GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix IV
Summaries of Closed Cases Involving INS or Customs Employees Convicted of Drug-Related
Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992-1997




Case 4

An immigration inspector assigned to Calexico, CA, conspired with
another immigration inspector (see case 6), a Customs inspector (see case
8) and a former INS detention enforcement officer (DEO) to smuggle drugs
into the United States. Over an 18-month period, the inspector waved
vehicles bearing approximately 6 tons of cocaine through the port of entry
without inspection. The smugglers used spotters, radio, telephone, verbal
communications, and a prearranged signaling system to guide drivers to
the corrupt inspectors’ lanes. The inspector was convicted of charges that
included conspiracy to import cocaine and importation of cocaine. He was
sentenced to 8 years and 1 month imprisonment.

Case 5

An immigration inspector assigned to El Paso, TX, waved approximately
10 shipments of marijuana through a port of entry without inspection. The
inspector notified the smuggler of his lane assignments using encrypted
messages. The smuggler drove to the inspector’s lane and notified him
which vehicle(s) that were following him contained the marijuana. The
inspector allowed the marijuana-laden vehicles to pass through his lane
uninspected. After his shift, the inspector met the smuggler at a local
restaurant and received his payment. According to the inspector, he
became involved with the drug smuggler because he had substantial credit
card debt and was on the verge of bankruptcy. He was convicted of
conspiracy to import marijuana and bribery and was sentenced to 7 years
imprisonment.

Case 6

An immigration inspector assigned to Calexico, CA, was recruited to
smuggle drugs by a woman he met while off duty. The woman’s mother
acted as a spotter and used a pager to relay information about the
inspector’s lane assignment to her daughter, who rode in the drug-laden
car. When the vehicle reached the inspector’s booth, he recognized his
accomplice and waved the vehicle through his lane without inspection.
After his shift ended, the inspector went to a prearranged location to
receive payment. The inspector was also implicated in another drug
conspiracy (see case 4). He pled guilty to bribery charges and was
sentenced to 8 years and 8 months imprisonment.




Page 36                                                   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix IV
Summaries of Closed Cases Involving INS or Customs Employees Convicted of Drug-Related
Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992-1997




Case 7

An immigration inspector assigned to Calexico, CA, agreed to allow her
boyfriend, a member of a narcotics smuggling family, to drive a vehicle
loaded with marijuana through her lane without inspection. She was
arrested for conspiracy to import marijuana and pled guilty to one count of
conspiracy to import marijuana. She was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months
imprisonment.

Case 8

A Customs inspector assigned to Calexico, CA, conspired with two
immigration inspectors (see cases 4 and 6), a former INS DEO, and six
other individuals to smuggle thousands of pounds of cocaine and
marijuana into the United States between 1983 and 1992. The former DEO
used his friendships with the Customs inspector and the immigration
inspectors to bring drugs through the port of entry. The drug smugglers
used spotters, radio, telephone, verbal communications, and a prearranged
signaling system to coordinate the drug movements. The Customs
inspector and the immigration inspectors permitted the drug vehicles to
enter the United States without inspection. The Customs inspector was
convicted of conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana and was
sentenced to 24 years and 4 months imprisonment.

Case 9

A Customs inspector assigned to Douglas, AZ, was arrested after a
marijuana shipment was seized from a vehicle trying to pass through the
inspector’s lane at the port of entry. When narcotics dogs alerted canine
enforcement officers to the vehicle, the driver attempted to flee in his
vehicle, but was apprehended. After the driver’s arrest, the inspector
admitted that he had known that the vehicle contained drugs. He also
admitted that he had waved the same vehicle through his lane without
inspection twice during the previous week. When the driver reached the
inspection booth, he used a prearranged signal to notify the inspector that
the vehicle should be passed without inspection. The inspector pled guilty
to conspiracy to import marijuana and bribery and was sentenced to 5
years and 8 months imprisonment.

Case 10

A Customs inspector assigned to El Paso, TX, recruited and conspired with
a second Customs inspector (see case 11) to allow drug loads through a



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Appendix IV
Summaries of Closed Cases Involving INS or Customs Employees Convicted of Drug-Related
Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992-1997




port of entry. Because the first inspector was not working at the port of
entry, he recruited the second inspector who was assigned to the port. The
two were arrested after they arrived at a local restaurant to receive
payment in exchange for allowing a load of cocaine to pass through the
port of entry. The inspector was convicted of conspiracy to import cocaine
and three counts of bribery. He was sentenced to 24 years and 4 months
imprisonment.

Case 11

A Customs inspector assigned to El Paso, TX, conspired with another
Customs inspector (see case 10) to wave drug loads through his lane
without inspection. The drug crossings were prearranged by telephone.
The inspector used a pager and a code to notify the drug smuggler of the
lane he would be working and the time to pass through the port of entry.
The inspector waved all vehicles through his lane without inspecting any
vehicles or referring any for secondary inspection. The inspector was
arrested after he went to a local restaurant to receive a bribe for allowing a
1,000-kilogram load of cocaine through the port of entry. He pled guilty to
bribery and was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months imprisonment.

Case 12

An immigration inspector assigned to the Hidalgo, TX, port of entry was
arrested after he accepted bribes to wave drug loads through the port of
entry uninspected. The inspector met the drug smuggler in Mexico and
told him when he would be on duty. On one occasion, the smuggler parked
his drug-laden vehicle in Mexico and walked half way across the
international bridge that leads to the port of entry. From there, the
smuggler determined what lane the inspector was assigned to work. He
returned to his vehicle and drove to the inspector’s lane. After the drug
smuggler was arrested for smuggling marijuana, the inspector admitted he
had accepted bribes to wave drug loads through the port of entry. He pled
guilty to bribery charges and was sentenced to 4 years and 9 months
imprisonment.

Case 13

An immigration inspector assigned to the San Ysidro, CA, port of entry was
arrested for waving drug-laden vehicles through the port. A social
acquaintance and drug trafficker asked the inspector to allow him to admit
a small amount of marijuana through the port. The inspector agreed and
over the course of a year admitted between 10 and 15 drug loads through



Page 38                                                   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
                       Appendix IV
                       Summaries of Closed Cases Involving INS or Customs Employees Convicted of Drug-Related
                       Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992-1997




                       his lane without inspection. The trafficker would telephone the inspector
                       at his home to determine his schedule. The trafficker would locate the
                       inspector on the line the next workday, or meet with the inspector at a
                       local restaurant after the inspector started his shift. At these meetings, the
                       inspector would tell the trafficker what lanes and times he was working.
                       After his arrest, the inspector pled guilty to conspiracy to import a
                       controlled substance and bribery charges. He was sentenced to 30 years
                       imprisonment.

                       Case 14

                       An immigration inspector assigned to Hidalgo, TX, assisted Mexican drug
                       trafficking organizations by allowing thousands of kilograms of cocaine
                       and tons of marijuana to pass through his inspection lane at the port of
                       entry. He also obtained law enforcement information and passed it on to
                       drug traffickers. In addition, the inspector received and attempted to sell
                       drugs. He was arrested and charged with conspiracy with intent to
                       distribute cocaine and marijuana. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 10
                       years and 1 month imprisonment.

                       Case 15
Coordinating the
Movement of Drugs      A Border Patrol agent assigned to Douglas, AZ, engaged in marijuana
Across the Southwest   trafficking using his Border Patrol vehicle to transport marijuana from a
                       predetermined pickup point at the border to a different location. After he
Border Between Ports   arrived at work and received his assignment, the agent coordinated the
of Entry               movement of drug loads by telephoning his accomplice(s) in Mexico and
                       providing a code to indicate where the loads could be safely brought
                       across the international boundary. Once the marijuana had been brought
                       across the border, he picked it up and loaded it into his Border Patrol
                       vehicle, and drove it to a predetermined location, where it was then
                       transferred to another vehicle. The agent pled guilty to conspiracy to
                       import marijuana, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute
                       marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and bribery. He
                       was sentenced to 12 years and 7 months imprisonment.

                       Case 16

                       A Border Patrol agent assigned to Chula Vista, CA, worked with a relative
                       to smuggle loads of marijuana across the border. The relative would
                       transport approximately three 250-pound loads of marijuana across the
                       border per week. During his shift, the agent picked up the drugs and
                       loaded them into his government vehicle. He then transferred the



                       Page 39                                                   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
                     Appendix IV
                     Summaries of Closed Cases Involving INS or Customs Employees Convicted of Drug-Related
                     Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992-1997




                     marijuana to his personal vehicle and transported the marijuana to his
                     residence. The agent was arrested after a search of his residence revealed
                     approximately 1 pound of marijuana, drug scales, packaging material, and
                     $16,700 in cash. He pled guilty to possession of marijuana for sale and was
                     sentenced to 9 months imprisonment.

                     Case 17

                     A Border Patrol agent assigned to Douglas, AZ, assisted drug traffickers in
                     transporting a shipment of cocaine across the border. He was not on duty
                     at the time he attempted to assist the drug smugglers. Two Border Patrol
                     agents who were on duty patrolling the border at night intercepted radio
                     transmissions among what sounded like drug smugglers coordinating the
                     movement of drugs across the border. One of the Border Patrol agents
                     thought he recognized the voice of one of the drug smugglers as belonging
                     to a Border Patrol agent whom he knew. A short time later, the agents
                     encountered the off-duty agent dressed in black, wearing a two-way radio,
                     and riding a bicycle along the border. At the Border Patrol agent’s trial,
                     prosecutors presented evidence that the agent had spent large sums of
                     cash to buy cars and real estate. Convicted of 11 felonies involving
                     narcotics smuggling and money laundering, he was sentenced to 30 years
                     imprisonment.

                     Case 18
Transporting Drugs
Past Border Patrol   An INS DEO assigned to Los Fresnos, TX, conspired with two colleagues
                                                                                                                          1


Checkpoints Within   (see case 19) and a former DEO to transport drug loads past Border Patrol
                     checkpoints using official INS vehicles. These DEOs generally transported
the United States    aliens to Houston for deportation. The former DEO, who had become a
                     drug smuggler, recruited a former colleague, who, in turn, recruited
                     another DEO. On at least three occasions, the DEOs transported drugs
                     past Border Patrol checkpoints. One method the smugglers used was to
                     load drugs in the luggage compartment of an INS bus prior to reaching a
                     Border Patrol checkpoint. The Border Patrol agents at the checkpoint did
                     not inspect the official government vehicles the smugglers used. After the
                     drugs had been successfully transported past the checkpoint, they were
                     removed from the INS vehicle. The DEO was arrested and convicted of
                     drug conspiracy, money laundering, and bribery. He was sentenced to life
                     imprisonment.


                     1
                     One of the DEOs involved in the conspiracy was indicted but fled prior to trial and remains a fugitive.
                     Because he was not convicted, his case is not included among the 28 listed in this appendix.




                     Page 40                                                               GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
                Appendix IV
                Summaries of Closed Cases Involving INS or Customs Employees Convicted of Drug-Related
                Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992-1997




                Case 19

                An INS DEO assigned to Los Fresnos, TX, conspired with two colleagues
                and a former DEO to transport drug loads past INS checkpoints using INS
                vehicles (see case 18). The DEO was convicted of conspiracy to possess
                with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, conspiracy to launder
                money, and two counts of bribery. He was sentenced to 5 years and 3
                months imprisonment.

                Case 20

                A Border Patrol agent stationed at the Falfurrias, TX, checkpoint was
                recruited by a DEO, who was a longtime friend, to assist in a drug-
                smuggling operation (see case 21). He aided the smugglers by waving drug
                loads through the checkpoint without inspection. In addition, he drove
                loads of marijuana through the checkpoint just prior to going on duty. The
                agent checked his work schedule to see who was working at the
                checkpoint during the shift preceding his own. He would only drive the
                marijuana through the checkpoint when certain Border Patrol agents, who
                he was friends with, or who he felt comfortable with, were working. He
                deposited the drug loads at a safe house located beyond the checkpoint.
                He would then return to the checkpoint to work his shift. He pled guilty to
                conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and was
                sentenced to 2 years and 6 months imprisonment.

                Case 21

                An INS DEO was recruited by a narcotics smuggler to facilitate drug
                shipments from the Rio Grande Valley to Chicago, IL. He recruited a
                longtime friend, who was a Border Patrol agent, to wave loads through the
                Falfurrias, TX, checkpoint (see case 20). The officer was arrested
                attempting to drive a pickup truck loaded with 292 pounds of marijuana
                through the Falfurrias checkpoint. He pled guilty to bribery charges and
                was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.

                Case 22
Selling Drugs
                A Border Patrol agent assigned to Naco, AZ, skimmed legitimate drug
                seizures he made from aliens and either sold the drugs to drug dealers or
                accepted a share of the profits from the drug dealer’s sale of the drugs.
                One of the drug dealers was the agent’s girlfriend’s brother. After the
                brother’s arrest, he testified at the agent’s trial. The investigation
                established that the agent was living beyond his means. After the agent



                Page 41                                                   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
                  Appendix IV
                  Summaries of Closed Cases Involving INS or Customs Employees Convicted of Drug-Related
                  Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992-1997




                  was arrested, he was released on bond and fled to New Zealand. He was
                  apprehended and extradited to the United States. He was convicted of
                  conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and possession with intent
                  to distribute cocaine. The agent was sentenced to 27 years and 6 months
                  imprisonment.

                  Case 23
Disclosing Drug
Intelligence      A Customs operational analysis specialist, responsible for identifying
Information       importers who were suspected of smuggling drugs through the Rio Grande
                  Valley, agreed to sell confidential drug-related intelligence information. He
                  was convicted of bribery and disclosure of confidential information and
                  sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.

                  Case 24

                  A Customs inspector assigned to Calexico, CA, was arrested after an
                  investigation revealed that she was disclosing sensitive law enforcement
                  information to her boyfriend, who was a drug trafficker. She pled guilty to
                  disclosure of confidential information and was sentenced to 30 days
                  imprisonment.

                  Case 25
Other
                  A Customs canine enforcement officer assigned to El Paso, TX, drove a
                  drug-laden vehicle from Mexico to the United States through a port of
                  entry. The officer relied on his friendships with coworkers at the port to
                  ensure that his vehicle would not be inspected. In addition, he agreed to
                  drive a load of marijuana through a checkpoint if it was closed. After his
                  arrest, the officer pled guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to
                  distribute. He was sentenced to 3 years and 4 months imprisonment.

                  Case 26

                  A Border Patrol agent assigned to El Paso, TX, was associated with the
                  leader of a vehicle theft ring that stole new vehicles from dealerships and
                  traded them for drugs. He was arrested after he traded a stolen truck’s
                  engine and transmission for a kilogram of cocaine. The agent was
                  convicted for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and was
                  sentenced to 6 years and 6 months imprisonment.




                  Page 42                                                   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix IV
Summaries of Closed Cases Involving INS or Customs Employees Convicted of Drug-Related
Crimes, Fiscal Years 1992-1997




Case 27

An immigration inspector assigned to San Ysidro, CA, was arrested and
charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The
inspector, who was a drug user, committed his crime while off duty. He
pled guilty and was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment.

Case 28

A Customs inspector assigned to Douglas, AZ, was arrested, along with
three coconspirators, and charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine with
intent to distribute. One of the coconspirators was a former INS
immigration inspector who resigned from INS after drugs were seized from
a car that he had waved through the port of entry. The Customs inspector
was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.




Page 43                                                   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix V

Completion of Employment Background
Reinvestigations

Table V.1: Completion of Employment Reinvestigations Due in Fiscal Years 1995 Through 1997 for Southwest Border Customs
Inspectors, INS Immigration Inspectors, and INS Border Patrol Agents
                                                                                  Reinvestigations overdue
                                                                                                                Total
                                                                      Total         Total reinvestigations reinvestigations
                                   Total Total reinvestigations  reinvestigations    completed after due not completed as
 Fiscal                 reinvestigations completed when due          overdue                 date           of March 1998
  Year Position                      due    Number Percent        Number Percent       Number Percent       Number Percent
1997    Customs                      368           99        27       269        73           25         7      244       66
        Inspector
        INS Immigration              103           46        45        57        55           12        12       45       44
        Inspector
        INS Border                   393           64        16       329        84           85        22      244       62
        Patrol Agent

1996   Customs                     294              46       16          248         84   124         42        124      42
       Inspector
       INS Immigration              67              29       43           38         57      8        12         30      45
       Inspector
       INS Border                  233              44       19          189         81   107         46         82      35
       Patrol Agent

1995   Customs                     120              16       13          104         87    51         43         53      44
       Inspector
       INS Immigration              78              28       36           50         64    31         40         19      24
       Inspector
       INS Border                  344              69       20          275         80   182         53         93      27
       Patrol Agent
                                          Source: GAO analysis of INS and Customs data.




                                          Page 44                                                GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VI

Comments From the Department of Justice




              Page 45           GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VI
Comments From the Department of Justice




Page 46                                   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VI
Comments From the Department of Justice




Page 47                                   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VI
Comments From the Department of Justice




Page 48                                   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VI
Comments From the Department of Justice




Page 49                                   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VII

Comments From the Department of Justice,
Office of the Inspector General




               Page 50           GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VII
Comments From the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General




Page 51                                                    GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII

Comments From the Customs Service




                Page 52        GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII
Comments From the Customs Service




Page 53                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII
Comments From the Customs Service




Page 54                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII
Comments From the Customs Service




Page 55                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII
Comments From the Customs Service




Page 56                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII
Comments From the Customs Service




Page 57                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII
Comments From the Customs Service




Page 58                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII
Comments From the Customs Service




Page 59                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII
Comments From the Customs Service




Page 60                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII
Comments From the Customs Service




Page 61                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix VIII
Comments From the Customs Service




Page 62                             GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Appendix IX

Major Contributors to This Report


                        Weldon McPhail, Assistant Director
General Government      Jay Jennings, Evaluator-in-Charge
Division, Washington,   Mark Tremba, Senior Evaluator
D.C.                    David Alexander, Senior Social Science Analyst
                        Michael Little, Communications Analyst

                        Fredrick D. Berry, Senior Evaluator
Dallas Field Office     Enemencio S. Sanchez, Evaluator
                        Michael H. Harmond, Evaluator

                        Jan Montgomery, Assistant General Counsel
Office of the General
Counsel




                        Page 63                                          GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
Page 64   GAO/GGD-99-31 Drug Control
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