Combating Public Corruption at U.S. Borders and Ports of Entry
An FBI-led national dragnet, dubbed Operation Independence Day, rallied more than 400 law enforcement agencies to work with the FBI in its Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces in each of the Bureau’s 56 field offices.
The program’s agents showed prowess in conducting special operations including undercover or covert investigative ability that led to the opening of five dozen federal criminal investigations. Agents and analysts at FBI Headquarters and in the field worked closely with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to identify young runaways, missing kids, and juveniles who may have been subjected to human trafficking.
In all, 103 juveniles were identified or recovered and 67 suspected traffickers, some of whom were illegal aliens, were arrested. The sweep resulted in 60 new federal investigations.
“The FBI is fiercely focused on recovering child victims and arresting the sex traffickers who exploit them,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. “Through operations like this, the FBI helps child victims escape the abusive life of sex trafficking.”
Unfortunately, there were a number of cities or states that refused to participate in the operation. Their mayors, governors and other local political leaders were opposed to Operation Independence Day fearing criminal aliens would be arrested, prosecuted, tried and then deported back to their nation of origin.
“The Democratic Party appears to have the upper-hand in any law enforcement actions that might impact the millions of illegal residents. They view these ‘invaders’ as their next generation of Democrats who would be easier to ‘sell’ socialism to,” said a former police lieutenant who is now a city councilman, Jose “Joey” Segarra.
Public corruption, the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority, poses a fundamental threat to our national security and way of life. It can affect everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected to how verdicts are handed down in courts to how public infrastructure such as roads and schools are built. It also takes a significant toll on the public’s pocketbooks by siphoning off tax dollars—it is estimated that public corruption costs the U.S. government and the public billions of dollars each year. The FBI is uniquely situated to combat corruption, with the skills and capabilities to run complex undercover operations and surveillance.
In 2008, the FBI created the International Corruption Unit (ICU) to oversee the increasing number of investigations involving global fraud against the U.S. government and the corruption of federal public officials outside of the continental U.S. involving U.S. funds, persons, businesses, etc. Their activities include:
- Investigating violations of federal law by public officials at the federal, state, and local levels of government;
- Overseeing the nationwide investigation of allegations of fraud related to federal government procurement, contracts, and federally funded programs;
- Combating the threat of public corruption along the nation’s borders and points of entry in order to decrease the country’s vulnerability to drug and weapons trafficking, alien smuggling, espionage, and terrorism.
- Addressing environmental crime, election fraud, and matters concerning the federal government procurement, contracts, and federally funded programs.
The ICU’s tasks include:
- Overseeing the Bureau’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and antitrust cases;
- Maintaining operational oversight of several International Contract Corruption Task Forces, which investigate and prosecute individuals and firms engaged in bribery, illegal gratuities, contract extortion, bid rigging, collusion, conflicts of interest, product substitution, items and/or services invoiced without delivery, theft, diversion of goods, and individual and corporate conspiracies on every level of U.S. government operations.
No other law enforcement agency has attained the kind of success the FBI has achieved in combating corruption. This success is due largely to the cooperation and coordination from a number of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to combat public corruption. These partnerships include, but are not limited to the Department of Justice, Agency Offices of Inspector General; law enforcement agencies’ internal affairs divisions; federal, state and local law enforcement and regulatory investigative agencies; and state and county prosecutor’s offices.
While the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers and public officials who work at the country’s ports and borders are honest and dedicated, even one corrupt official like can pose a serious threat to the nation’s security—because what if one of those individuals smuggled through a port of entry is a terrorist carrying a bomb? Or a terrorist smuggling WMD (weapons of mass destruction) such as a radioactive device or material?
For that reason, the FBI—in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security—is launching a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of border corruption so that citizens and government employees who see corruption or suspicious activity will call the FBI to report it.
“Public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal priority,” said Sergio Galvan, chief of the Bureau’s Public Corruption Unit at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “It is critical for us to engage the public to help stop these crimes. We’re not expecting citizens to be detectives,” Galvan explained, “but if you see something that doesn’t seem right, report it. If you notice someone going through security without being searched, or if you work on the border and know someone in your agency that is looking the other way, call the FBI.”
The border awareness campaign will include publicity outreach efforts in 10 FBI field offices whose areas of responsibility include U.S. ports of entry such as border crossings, airports, and seaports. The cities are Buffalo, New York; Detroit, Michigan; El Paso and San Antonio, Texas; Fargo, North Dakota; Los Angeles and San Diego, California; Miami, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; and Seattle, Washington.