Department of Homeland Security’s OIG report: murder, drugs and corruption

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Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General recently released the second part of its semiannual report to Congress. In response to OIG’s investigations, the DHS declined to prosecute 111 cases, accepted 56 investigations for prosecution and achieved 56 convictions. OIG audits resulted in questioned costs of $59,424,677, of which $2,679,489 did not have supporting documentation. As a result of disallowed costs, the DHS recovered or de-obligated $32,743,847. OIG issued 14 reports, identifying $898,468,917 in funds that could be put to better use by the DHS.

OIG determined that the Department of Homeland Security cannot ensure it has sufficient personal protective equipment and antiviral medical countermeasures for a pandemic response. Previous OIG report, “DHS Has Not Effectively Managed Pandemic Personal Protective Equipment and Antiviral Medical Countermeasures,” found that the Department of Homeland Security is “ill-prepared for pandemic response.”

The OIG report examined widely-reported releases of hundreds of immigration detainees (including aliens with criminal convictions) by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in February and March 2013. The publicized releases were allegedly motivated by the budget shortfalls and were determined by the OIG to be “problematic.”

Some of the investigations highlighted in the semiannual OIG report to Congress (parts I and II) include the following cases:

  • A TSA Transportation Security (TSA) Officer entered into a conspiracy to smuggle Brazilian nationals through an international airport. For his role, the TSA Officer was sentenced to 10 months’ incarceration, followed by 36 months of supervised release.
  • A United States Coast Guard (USCG) civilian employee murdered two co-workers, an active-duty USCG Petty Officer, and a retired USCG Chief Petty Officer. The victims were found shot to death at their place of employment, a USCG Communications Station. The civilian employee was sentenced to life in prison after having been found guilty by a jury of first degree murder and related charges.
  • Members of the ICE narcotics task force were involved in smuggling of narcotics. OIG investigation revealed that an entire specialized law enforcement unit, which had been designed to interrupt the narcotics trade, was deeply involved in smuggling and other illegal activities. The unit had used its law enforcement position to escort drug shipments, otherwise assist a drug trafficking organization, and gain warrantless entry into residences and vehicles to steal drugs that were then sold. The eight law enforcement officers involved were sentenced to periods of incarceration ranging from 96 to 204 months.
  • A Customs and Border Protection Officer (CBPO) accepted payments to enter fraudulent immigration information into an official database. The information falsely made it appear as if nonimmigrants who had entered the United States had departed within the required time limits and according to the terms of their permission, and then properly returned to the United States, thus maintaining their status. The corrupt CBPO was sentenced to 6 months’ incarceration, followed by 36 months of supervised release, and fined $2,000.
  • A United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employee was stealing immigration forms from the warehouse where he worked and selling them in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy that helped to obtain hundreds of false driver’s licenses for individuals in various states. He was sentenced to 26 months’ incarceration, followed by 24 months of supervised release, and fined $4,000.
  • An ICE corrections officer was supplying illegal prescription medication that he knew was being smuggled inside the facility and sold to detainees. The officer was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, followed by 60 months of supervised release.
  • A TSA officer fraudulently represented that he was married to a U.S. citizen on his immigration application, allowing him to fraudulently acquire U.S. citizenship. He was sentenced to 36 months of probation and revocation of his U.S. naturalization.
  • A TSA Supervisor was actively assisting a criminal organization in smuggling cocaine at an international airport. He was sentenced to 87 months’ imprisonment, followed by 24 months of supervised release.
  • A Federal Air Marshal, who repeatedly sexually abused three minors between 2000 and 2004, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years of incarceration. While incarcerated, he contacted a former victim and asked that the victim destroy an external hard drive containing child pornography which he had hidden prior to his arrest. OIG opened a new investigation, during which the hard drive was located and examined. It contained thousands of images and full-length movies of child pornography. The former Air Marshal pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 1,080 months imprisonment, followed by lifetime supervised release.
  • A Border Patrol Agent (BPA) worked in the intelligence unit and sought to provide sensitive law enforcement information to smugglers. Intelligence materials, such as border sensor maps, combinations to locked gates and identities of confidential informants, were delivered to the supposed smugglers, who were actually undercover agents. The BPA pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 180 months imprisonment, followed by 36 months of supervised release.
  • A senior CBP official was awarding government contracts based on conflicts of interest and favoritism. OIG investigation revealed that the official was in the process of attempting to steer an approximately $100 million information technology contract to a specific company. Additional evidence indicated that he had previously helped to steer a $24 million information technology contract to a certain company. Several companies were colluding to give the false appearance of legitimate competition. During this reporting period, two company officials pleaded guilty and were sentenced. The report does not specify whether the senior CBP official in question faced any type of accountability.
  • An ICE Enforcement Removal Officer was suspected of drug trafficking and providing assistance to a fugitive drug dealer. When interviewed, he made statements that were demonstrably false. He was arrested, pleaded guilty, and resigned from ICE. He was sentenced to 60 months’ probation and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine.
  • An ICE Supervisory Special Agent, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), had been stealing property from ICE for several years and had sold much of it over the Internet. Search warrants of his residence yielded a large amount of government property. He resigned from government employment, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 60 months’ probation. He was also ordered to complete 500 hours of community service, pay a fine of $10,000, and pay $31,840 in restitution.

Disproportionately lenient punishment of government officials is unequivocally tied to the fact that corruption within the Department of Homeland Security continues to fester, undeterred and unabated.

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