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Sunday, March 9, 2008

US Customs and Border Protection Agents Charged With Numerous Crimes

From miamiherald.com: Bribery. Drug trafficking. Migrant smuggling.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is supposed to stop these types of crimes. Instead, so many of its officers have been charged with committing those crimes themselves that their boss in Washington recently issued an alert about the ''disturbing events'' and the ``increase in the number of employee arrests.''

Thomas S. Winkowski, assistant commissioner of field operations, wrote a memo to more than 20,000 officers nationwide noting that employees must behave professionally at all times -- even when not on the job.

''It is our responsibility to uphold the laws, not break the law,'' Winkowski wrote in the Nov. 16 memo obtained by The Miami Herald.

Winkowski's memo cites employee arrests involving domestic violence, DUI and drug possession. But court records show Customs officers and other Department of Homeland Security employees from South Florida to the Mexican border states have been charged with dozens of far more serious offenses.

Among them: A Customs and Border Protection officer at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was charged in February with conspiring to assist a New York drug ring under investigation by tapping into sensitive federal databases.

Winkowski, a former director of field operations in Miami, called the misconduct ''unacceptable.'' He told The Miami Herald that while he wrote the memo because of an uptick in employee arrests last fall, he didn't believe the problem was pervasive. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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