EL PASO, Texas – One immigration agent was accused of running an Internet pornography business and enjoying an improper relationship with an informant. Another let an informant smuggle in a group of illegal immigrants. And in a third case, an agent was investigated for soliciting sex from a witness in a marriage fraud case.
These troubling misdeeds are a sampling of misconduct by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel as the agency seeks to carve out a bigger role in the deadly border war against Mexican drug gangs.
According to documents obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, ICE agents have blundered badly in their dealings with informants and other sources, covering up crimes and even interfering in a police investigation into whether one informant killed another.
At least eight agents have been investigated for improper dealings with informants since ICE was created in 2003, and more than three dozen others have been investigated for other wrongdoing, the records show.
The heavily redacted documents detail how one agent failed "to report murders ... to her supervisor" and how another failed "to properly document information received from a confidential source in violation of ICE policy and procedure."
In the case involving one informant charged with murdering another, Jose Daniel Gonzalez Galeana, a smuggling manager for the Juarez cartel, was gunned down this spring in his upscale El Paso neighborhood. El Paso police say ICE delayed its investigation, steering detectives away from the man now charged with arranging the contract hit.
ICE was spun off from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to become the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security when DHS was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. ICE also handles the processing and detention of illegal immigrants and miscellaneous tasks like oversight of security at federal buildings.
The agency has long been interested in joining the border drug war, and has been stepping up its efforts as drug-related violence has killed more than 13,500 people in Mexico and threatens to spill into the United States.
Some local and federal authorities in El Paso are hesitant to work closely with ICE because of the way it operates, said law enforcement officers who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the issue.
In the 2004 DEA letter, inaction by ICE officials was blamed for "allowing at least 13 other murders to take place in Ciudad Juarez" and for endangering the lives of DEA agents and their families.
If you are concerned about terrorists infiltrating our borders, rest easy. Not only are competent personnel from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on the job, the agency is now itching to, you know, join the border drug war: