Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Thursday, Nov. 30
The Indiana Daily Student


Drug cartels still actively infiltrating US security

Earlier this month, students, concerned citizens and members of the press crammed into a hearing room on Capitol Hill. Before them sat Senator Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who apparently represented an entire subcommittee of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security. He convened a hearing about ongoing corruption problems among the agencies tasked with protecting American borders.

Tom Frost, assistant inspector general of investigations at the Department of Homeland Security, explained the drug cartels approached border workers in multiple agencies with sophisticated tactics. They are able, he claims, to isolate workers of vulnerable integrity and bribe them to work for their side. Some will do this for “remarkably low sums of money,” while others, as in the case of a border patrol agent and former El Paso police officer, were bribed with what amounted to $5 million for their services. This shows both how lucrative working for drug cartels can be and how valuable it is to the cartels to acquire inside operatives.

Unfortunately, it seems relatively easy to do. The list of border security breaches reads like the plot of a season of “24” — border patrol agents waving along cars they know to be carrying marijuana, Transportation Security Administration agents selling “security checked” tags to be fitted to bags carrying cocaine onto airplanes. Even a Mexican chief of police was caught trying to bribe a border patrol agent to smuggle marijuana.

In a hearing full of facts and figures, two statistics stood out above all the others. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s protocol insists that every new hire must be subject to a polygraph test to prevent infiltration. However, of all new hires, only 10 percent receive polygraph tests. Of those who do get tested, 60 percent are found “unsuitable.”

“That number is alarming to me,” Senator Pryor carefully understated.

James Tomsheck from CBP’s Office of Internal Affairs asserted this was due to limited resources and that he needed 50 more polygraph testers to get the job done.

While Senator Pryor was in charge of asking the questions, Assistant Director Kevin Perkins of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division rhetorically offered one of his own: If employees are willing to let in drugs, why not improvised explosive devices?

Get stories like this in your inbox