CBP’s corruption streak continues, after border agents busted for working with smugglers

CBP’s corruption streak continues, after border agents busted for working with smugglers

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has long been considered one of the most corrupt federal bodies in the nation, with a government commissioned report in 2015 noting that “arrests for corruption of CBP personnel far exceed, on a per capita basis, such arrests at other federal law enforcement agencies,” ProPublica reported in 2019. The department nevertheless continues to get billions upon billions in funding from Congress every single year.

CBP, true to form, has continued its crime streak. Daily Beast reports that a U.S. Border Patrol agent has admitted to conspiring with human smugglers for profit, allowing them to transport people across the border in exchange for $400 a person. The report said that messages reveal an informant asking the agent, Rodney Tolson, Jr., if he was “ready to make some cash.” Court documents say that the agent responded, “U know it,” the report continued.

“Tolson, Jr. caught the attention of internal DHS investigators back in 2019, when they saw Tolson on surveillance video waving an unidentified smuggler through a border checkpoint,” the report said. The plea agreement said that the agent would instruct smugglers on which lane to cross through, and at what time. “Two unnamed suspects cooperated with DHS to identify Tolson, who received his payments in the parking lot of a nearby Walmart.” Woof.

This isn’t even the most recent criminal incident involving a border agent. “Texas border agent helps smuggler sneak in cocaine—as other agents watched, feds say,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported this week. That report said that Border Patrol agent Oberlin Cortez Pena Jr. not only instructed a drug smuggler on how to hide his product in a backpack cooler, he suggested shifts when it would be best to try to cross. “The (agents) are all rookies,” he said about specified times, the report said. For helping smuggle 5 kilos of cocaine, Cortez Pena Jr. hoped to earn $1,000 bucks.

”Every year, approximately 250 CBP employees are arrested, many on suspicion of serious felonies; dozens have been jailed in recent years on corruption charges, including weapons trafficking and collaborating with Mexican drug cartels,” ProPublica reported in 2019.

Meanwhile, as border agents simultaneously commit grave human rights abuses that have included the forcible separation of children from their families at the southern border, Congress has punished the federal immigration department by throwing more and more cash at it year after year. American Immigration Council noted last year that CBP’s spending has tripled since 2003, from $5.9 billion, to $17.7 billion.

 The Biden administration’s first full budget request called for no overall reductions for CBP or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Senators Robert Menendez and Alex Padilla have since led a group of nearly a dozen Senate Democrats including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in calling on the chamber’s appropriations committee to decrease ballooned immigration enforcement and detention funds in the next fiscal year. “Congress must be explicit in its provision of funds for the kind of transformative change that is needed to repair and build an immigration system that is centered around community and welcoming, not on tearing families apart, undermining community safety, and destabilizing communities and workplaces through punitive enforcement measures,” they said

“As the parent agency of the Border Patrol and the country’s largest law enforcement agency, CBP has seen its budget skyrocket, despite operating without accountability or transparency and an alarming record of violence, corruption, and human rights abuses against migrants and U.S. citizens alike,” the Defund Hate campaign said. “In 2020, a government investigation revealed that CBP misspent emergency humanitarian funding explicitly provided for food and medical care for migrants on dirt bikes and enforcement-related expenditures.”

“Moving forward, resources should be invested in creating rights-respecting systems that welcome all newcomers and support the well-being of those who call the border region home,” the campaign continued.

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