Over the line: Fighting corruption on our border

Article publisher: 
CBS News
Article date: 
13 January 2013
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

John Ladd owns 14,000 wild acres in southern Arizona squared up against the Mexican border. It's land that's become extremely valuable for something besides ranching: For Mexico's illegal immigrants and drug cartels, it's a golden pathway into the U.S.

"The easy part of getting across here is you got three miles to walk, and that's it," said Ladd. "You get picked up at the highway and you're gone."

Five generations of Ladds have lived here. The family journeyed west over gritty trails in covered wagons in 1894.

More than a century later, Ladd watches from his kitchen window as new immigrants -- the illegal kind -- regularly march across his land, oddly undeterred by the border fence, government surveillance cameras, and Border Agents patrolling the property.

When asked how many illegal immigrants he estimates have crossed his property, Ladd replied, "I say about a half a million people have been caught on the ranch. And that's what's been caught - that's not what's got through."...

But Ladd says there's more illegal traffic coming in trucks, filled with drugs. He showed Attkisson where a wall on his property has been cut three times since February: "They sets ramps up on top. They have ramp going into Mexico, have a ramp coming in here. They drive the loaded trucks over the ramps, get 'em in. Come up and cut all of my fences going to the highway."...

More than 40,000 U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents guard the nation's borders, and the vast majority are honest. But drug cartels are working harder than ever to infiltrate their ranks.

"They're using Cold War-style tactics: Money, sex, drugs to convince officers to work with them, and to help get their products and their people across the border," said Special Agent Terry Reed, part of the FBI's ever-expanding operation working to root out corruption...

In FBI surveillance video Gilliland was seen allegedly carrying a cash payoff in a bag. He plead guilty to taking $120,000 in bribes to let in hundreds of illegal immigrants.

There's also Agent Michael Gonzalez, captured by a police camera loading pot into his vehicle; Agent Marcos Manzano, Jr., caught harboring illegal immigrants in his family's house; and Officer Luis Alarid. Turns out the FBI had gotten a tip and was watching him off-duty, and on the job. In surveillance video he is seen waving through a white minivan.

"Inside the van are 18 undocumented people, all of them paying upwards of $5,000 to $8,000 per person to a smuggling organization for passage into the United States," said Reed...



I spent time on the border in 2004 with former law enforcement officers, and retired and active border patrol agents. I was on the border for a month in 2005 as media liaison with the original Minuteman Project. I can affirm that individual border patrol agents were extremely dedicated and honest officers who strove to do an impossible job against overwhelming odds. Corruption originated higer up in the chain of command, where their management was pressured to skew apprehension statistics. Agents were ordered to "sit on x's" - to sit in their vehicle on one spot for an entire shift - so as to not apprehend any illegal aliens, thus deflating apprehension statistics.

Perhaps times have changed. As organized cartels have taken over illegal alien trafficing, it should be expected that organized crime corruption will spread into the United States.

We must point out Ladd's statement in the article that half a million illegal aliens were apprehended on one ranch alone. Many, many more evaded apprehension.

Fred Elbel, CAIRCO