CBP to probe workforce corruption

Wednesday - 8/17/2011, 6:17pm EDT

By Ruben Gomez
Federal News Radio

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will investigate its workforce for signs of corruption, with help from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

CBP will send internal affairs investigators to participate in OIG field office corruption probes, according to a cooperative working agreement signed by both agencies. The probes will focus on corruption among CBP agents working at borders.

"Border corruption may take the form of cash bribes, sexual favors, and other gratuities in return for allowing contraband or undocumented aliens through primary inspection lanes or even protecting and escorting border crossings," according to the OIG. Payback might also include leaking sensitive law enforcement information to someone under investigation, selling law enforcement intelligence to smugglers and forging documents, such as immigration papers.

"These investigators also will be responsible for enhancing the exchange of integrity-related information, data and analysis between agencies," according to CBP.

The agreement aims to facilitate more aggressive action against violators, CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin said. But it also aims to reduce the time it takes to resolve allegations without merit.

"We know the integrity of the vast majority of our workforce is beyond reproach," Bersin said. "But this is one more indication that ethical lapses will not be tolerated."

The plan is part of a broader approach to better integrate DHS participation with other law enforcement agencies investigating border and public corruption.

"These additional assets are especially necessary to OIG as the CBP workforce continues to expand significantly, while OIG growth remains relatively flat," the inspector general's office wrote.