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Corruption on the border

Very interesting article from the AP about official corruption along the US-Mexico border.

An Associated Press investigation has found U.S. law officers who work the border are being charged with criminal corruption in numbers not seen before, as drug and immigrant smugglers use money and sometimes sex to buy protection, and internal investigators crack down.

Based on Freedom of Information Act requests, interviews with sentenced agents and a review of court records, the AP tallied corruption-related convictions against more than 80 enforcement officials at all levels — federal, state and local — since 2007, shortly after Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels that peddle up to $39 billion worth of drugs in the United States each year.

U.S. officials have long pointed to Mexico’s rampantly corrupt cops and broken judicial system, but Calderon told the AP this isn’t just a Mexican problem.

“To get drugs into the United States the one you need to corrupt is the American authority, the American customs, the American police — not the Mexican. And that’s a subject, by the way, which hasn’t been addressed with sincerity,” the Mexican president said. “I’m waging my battle against corruption among Mexican authorities and we’re risking everything to clean our house, but I think there also needs to be a good cleaning on the other side of the border.”

In fact, U.S. prosecutors have been taking notice. Drug traffickers look “for weaknesses in the armor,” said former prosecutor Yolanda de Leon in Cameron County, Texas.

It’s a little depressing to read the whole thing. I don’t know what can be done about this, and it’s not clear to me that the folks in charge of border security really know either, as the only solution they seem to have is “keep doing more of what we’ve been doing”, which includes spending more money on it. I do still think we could solve some of these problems by recognizing that as long as the demand to enter the US outstrips the supply of visas and work permits, many people will try to enter by whatever means they can, which in turn helps the smugglers and drug traffickers do their business. Unfortunately, as comprehensive immigration reform isn’t in the cards for this year, that isn’t going to happen. Better hope spending more to keep doing what we’ve been doing will help.

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One Comment

  1. Joe White says:

    We could cut down on a lot of it by decriminalizing drugs.