Dangling offers of money and sexual favors, Mexican drug cartels have bribed US border officials to allow illegal immigrants through checkpoints, shield traffickers, or provide secret information, a top official testified before a Senate subcommittee. The Zetas drug cartel in particular has been “involved increasingly in systematic corruption,” said the acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, following an investigation. Some 127 Customs and Border Protection workers have been nabbed for corruption since 2004, said that agency’s boss.
Mexican president Felipe Calderon’s crackdown on cartels has heightened the potential for corruption, as has rapid hiring of border agents, said the CBP’s Alan Bersin: The agency has more than doubled in size since 2004, reports CNN. “The accelerated hiring pace under which we operated between 2006 and 2008—and, frankly, mistakes from which we are learning—exposed critical organizational and individual vulnerabilities within CBP,” he noted. But, he added, an anti-corruption law passed last year should help; it stipulates that by 2013 all CBP law enforcement applicants undergo a polygraph test before gaining employment. (Read more bribery stories.)