Drug Cartels' Secret Weapon: US Agents

Smugglers pay big money for insider help
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser User
Posted Sep 12, 2010 7:05 AM CDT
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agents gather along the border near Naco, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

(Newser) – Mexico has a vast, well-known corruption problem, but drug cartels are increasingly finding helping hands across the border in the form of US border agents, finds the Washington Post. In one typical case, an American mother of two, Martha Garnica, worked with smugglers to sneak people and drugs across the border, grooming other agents to do the same. Garnica was busted and sentenced to 20 years. But, says the Post, the cartels pay well and the problem persists.

Drug smugglers use Cold War-style espionage to recruit and turn agents. "They look for weaknesses. Sex is a biggie. Alcohol, drug abuse, financial woes," explains an investigator. Garnica owned a house with a pool, two Hummers, a Cadillac, and vacationed in Europe—certainly more than her government salary afforded her. "The amount of money available to corrupt employees is staggering," another investigator says. The best way for drug traffickers to thrive, he says, "is by corrupting a border official."
(Read more drug smuggling stories.)

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