Thursday, November 01, 2007

Laredo chief's bribery plea continues border corruption trend

The wicked accept secret bribes to pervert justice.
Proverbs 17:23

I've argued repeatedly that new border security money should go first to fight corruption in law enforcement on the border, not to pay corporate mercenaries to train corrupt Mexican cops. The recent history of law enforcement corruption in Laredo shows why.

Interstate 35 coming out of Laredo up through San Antonio, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and on to parts beyond accounts for 40% of Mexican exports to the US, according to the Government Accountability Office, making it the primary US entry point for drug traffickers. However law enforcement at all levels in that border town have fallen to corruption in recent years, making it highly questionable whether relying on enforcement efforts alone can work without rooting out corruption.

UPI and the Laredo Morning Times report that the Laredo police chief pled guilty on Friday to taking bribes in return for protecting illegal gambling operations. Two other Laredo officers were indicted this summer for similar charges, as well as several counts of cocaine possession and distribution.

In June, three Texas National Guardsmen including two from Laredo were indicted for using their official positions to assist immigrant smuggling coyotes.

In 2006, the deputy commander of the Laredo Narcotics Task Force was indicted for extorting protection money from drug traffickers moving loads through their jurisdiction. According to the indictment Deputy Commander Lopez, whose brother is the Zapata County Attorney, "disclosed information to drug traffickers that they represented to be sensitive law enforcement information; and provided a storage place to store the trafficker’s cocaine."

In 2005, Senior Border Patrol Agent Juan Alfredo Alvarez, 35, and his brother Jose pled guilty in Laredo to bribery and drug conspiracy charges. The Alvarez brothers were accused of soliciting and receiving a $1.5 million bribe for turning a blind eye to truckloads of marijuana moving through checkpoints near Hebronville, where Officer Alvarez was the senior agent and drug dog handler.

So the local police chief, a senior Border Patrol Agent, a supervisor at a mulit-jurisdictional task force, and the National Guards sent by Governor Perry to assist them have all been infiltrated with corruption in the last two years. It would be foolhardy to throw more money at AMERICAN law enforcement on the border without doing more to stem corruption. Throwing money at Mexican law enforcement promises even grimmer results - as happened with Los Zetas, we could be training officers today who anti-drug agents will be battling tomorrow.

1 comment:

el_longhorn said...

Rumor has it that the Webb County DA, a county court judge, and a district court judge will also soon be indicted as part of this investigation. The DA unexpectedly announced that he was not seeking re-election a few months ago, raising suspicions of problems or ongoing investigations. The DA's father was convicted of accepting bribes for reduced/dismissed charges a few years back, as were ADA's and investigators in his office. Rumor also has it that the DA's family is involved in the "maquinitas", the gambling businesses that have skirted the law down in South Texas for the last few years.