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GGD-99-31, Mar. 30, 1999 (64 pages). Drug Control: INS and Customs Can Do More To Prevent Drug-Related Employee Corruption. [Text] [PDF]

The corruption of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and U.S. Customs Service employees along the Southwest border by drug traffickers is a serious and continuing threat. Some of these employees have waved drug loads through ports of entry, coordinated the movement of drugs across the border, transported drugs past Border Patrol checkpoints, sold drugs, and revealed drug intelligence information. Both INS and Customs have policies and procedures to help ensure the integrity of their employees. However, neither agency is taking full advantage of its policies, procedures, and the lessons to be learned from closed corruption cases to address the rising threat of employee corruption on the Southwest border. For example, although the agencies generally completed background investigations for new hires by the end of their first year on the job, reinvestigations were typically overdue, in some cases by as much as three years. The Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General and Customs' Office of Internal Affairs, which deal with allegations of drug-related misconduct by INS and Customs employees, are required to formally report internal control weaknesses identified from closed corruption cases. However, GAO's review of 28 cases involving INS and Customs employees along the Southwest border who had been convicted of drug-related crimes between 1992 and 1997 found internal control weaknesses that were not formally reported or corrected. These weaknesses included instances where (1) drug smugglers chose the inspection lane at a port of entry, (2) INS and Customs employees did not recuse themselves from inspecting persons with whom they had close personal relationships, and (3) law enforcement personnel were allowed to cross the Southwest border or pass Border Control checkpoints without inspection. Also, INS and Customs have not formally evaluated their integrity procedures to determine their effectiveness. For example, GAO found that financial information required for background investigations and reinvestigations was either limited or not fully reviewed. GAO summarized this report in testimony before Congress; see: Drug Control: INS and Customs Can Do More to Prevent Drug-Related Employee Corruption, by Richard M. Stana, Associate Director for Administration of Justice Issues, before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. GAO/T-GGD-99-86, Apr. 21 (16 pages).