Agent Michael A. Atondo is one of a growing number of officers responsible for national security who have been indicted or convicted for corruption.

This year, in Arizona alone, at least six federal employees posted along the U.S.-Mexico border were sent to prison or face prison time. They also were ordered to pay restitution to the U.S. government equal to the amount of illicit payments they received after going into business with criminals, a majority of whom are in the drug trade. The feds seized whatever graft the dirty agents amassed — including homes, cars, and jewelry.

U.S. border checkpoints are especially vulnerable as customs officers deal with thousands of cars a day.
Monica Alonzo
U.S. border checkpoints are especially vulnerable as customs officers deal with thousands of cars a day.
A van loaded with nearly 6,000 pounds of marijuana ran out of gas just before passing through Customs Officer Margarita Crispin's assigned border checkpoint.
A van loaded with nearly 6,000 pounds of marijuana ran out of gas just before passing through Customs Officer Margarita Crispin's assigned border checkpoint.

These corrupt officers are but the tip of the iceberg in federal border-protection agencies that are riddled with problems — including minimal oversight of border agents, poor training, and shoddy background checks of recruits. All this makes it easier for drug traffickers to infiltrate the agencies and taint employees.

Even as federal lawmakers, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, the FBI, and Customs and Border Protection officials push to curtail the corruption through task forces and new laws, agents and officers continue to succumb to the temptation of money, sex, and power dangled before them by rich traffickers.

In May, a U.S. District Court judge sentenced Border Patrol agent Yamilkar Fierros to 20 months in prison for accepting bribes in exchange for providing confidential information to drug traffickers.

In June, Jovana Samaniego Deas, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was charged in federal court with stealing documents from an investigative database for family and friends with ties to drug cartels in Mexico.

September was a busy month for authorities battling border corruption.

A federal jury indicted Raul Portillo, a former sergeant in the Army National Guard, in Tucson U.S. District Court for accepting bribes and recruiting a local cop to join him in a cocaine-smuggling scheme.

A federal grand jury in Tucson indicted Border Patrol Agent Abel Canales in September for accepting a bribe in 2008 in exchange for letting a U-Haul loaded with drugs and immigrants pass through his checkpoint in southern Arizona.

Investigators say Canales asked the U-Haul driver whether he was a U.S. citizen, and the driver replied, "Buenos días." Without further questioning, Canales allowed him to continue through the checkpoint heading north on Interstate 19.

The man who arranged the deal exchanged several phone calls with Canales, and the two met that evening at a Walmart in Nogales. Canales, still wearing his Border Patrol uniform, walked over to the other man's car and pocketed a manila envelope containing $8,000.

That same month, Customs and Border Protection Officer Luis Carlos Vasquez was indicted for his role in a drug-smuggling operation connected to Mexican suspects. Authorities say, on one occasion, the 32-year-old agent allowed more than 1,200 pounds of pot in a Chevy Avalanche to pass through his inspection lane at the Douglas border crossing.

In October, ICE Agent Jason Lowery was arrested after leading cops on a 45-minute chase as he tossed loads of marijuana out of his government truck.

Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, one of the agencies that investigates corruption by U.S. border personnel, reports that its investigations have led to the arrests of 160 Customs and Border Protection employees on suspicion of corruption since 2004. As of June, it had 267 open corruption investigations of CBP employees.


Many of the agents who get mixed up with drug-trafficking organizations are lured by plata o sexo, a bribe involving either money or sex.

Others are sucked in by family members who already are involved in drug- or human-smuggling rings.

Some are even groomed by drug cartels to infiltrate U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Typically, according to court records and investigation reports, smugglers compensate corrupt customs officers for allowing loads of drugs, weapons, or immigrants to pass into the United States. Other agents, like Michael Atondo, are paid to pick up drugs stashed in the desert and deliver them in government vehicles. Others sell confidential information, such as locations of desert motion sensors, agents' patrol patterns, or confidential documents.

ICE Agent Jovana Deas, 33, who was indicted in September, started her government career in 2003 as a Border Patrol officer in Nogales. She became an ICE special agent for the Homeland Security Investigation unit in 2008 and apparently didn't waste any time before using her position to "illegally help family members south of the border with ties to drug-trafficking organizations," federal officials said at the time of her arrest in June.

Investigators believe she started stealing information in July 2008 and continued until she was caught in April 2011. She periodically checked to see whether certain individuals were under investigation, and when they were, she copied all available files — including reports detailing cases law enforcement officials were building against them — and arranged for delivery of the privileged information to the suspects.

Deas' scheme started to unravel in February after she made repeated unauthorized inquiries about one of her sister's friends — a man under investigation from Agua Prieta in Mexico.

The agent heading the investigation was alerted by the agency's computer system that Deas was electronically rifling through the suspect's case files. When Deas noticed red flags on the files, she called the agent on the case to attempt to explain away her actions, according to court records. She claimed that a new informant had given her information about the suspect, and that's what prompted her research.

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39 comments
Bobby
Bobby

We know Monica, its' always about the "corrupt", Americans, never about the corrupt Mexicans. Nothing new here.

Luv82hotrod
Luv82hotrod

shoot a few of the illeagles and smugglers and leave theire bodies right there by the fence. that might stop some of them. problem solved

malapai
malapai

What a flock of ignorant assholes.

John Swanson
John Swanson

Regarding your article about drinking age in the USA.Ware do you get the figure of age 24 in some states?it is 21 in all states. There is no such thing as 24yrs old drinking age here.If your so concerned plz check ur facts THANK YOU. this is for TO A CONCERNED CITIZEN

malasangre
malasangre

"wide spread array and disillusions." that does sound scary.wtf is it?

JasonTodd Ready
JasonTodd Ready

Thank you for highlighting corrupt federal employees complicit in the narco-terrorist invasion of our nation: Micheal Angelo Antondo, Yamilkar Fierros, Jovana Samaniego Deas, Raul Portillo, Abel Canales, Luis Carlos Vasquez, Raquel Esquivel, Margarita Crispin... This article only further reinforces the prudent position that Latinos are a national security risk to our country and should be placed under far more scrutiny than their Anglo counterparts.

Hrobster
Hrobster

Most Americans, are in complete AGREEMENT with you, whether you know it or not. It's our corrupt govenrment, intent on merging this blessed country with one of the most corrupt nations in the enitire world. How many heads got chopped off today in Narco state, and when is it going to come here.

Richard Winston
Richard Winston

Jeeze, Hitler, why don't you just put them in concentration camps?! You're the kind of cracker asshole I worry about going crazy and shooting up the post office or a mcdonald's.

Hrobster
Hrobster

He isn't Hitler but you sound like and anti-American leftist progressive buffoon.

Gwmwllc
Gwmwllc

Two six foot high fences, no barb wire on top. Place them 100 yards apart on the US side of the border. Warning signs on the fences every 200 feet. AND LAND MINES IN BETWEEN THE FENCES. Problem solved.

Sherri
Sherri

this is months old, and the agent got busted and arrested...he was an idiot...and this is not as common as the illegal mexican drug runners and human traffickers want you to believe...there are corrupt people in EVERY organization...let's not be ignorant people...and most agents working the border actually do an amazing job...the only thing hindering them is all of the "political correct red tape" and protecting the rights of those who come illegally bringing drugs, trafficking, etc. and most of those get a slap on the wrist and sent home and guess who doesn't get the support they should? huh...yup border patrol.

Whatever People
Whatever People

Ummm, did you really think we had a problem because they have been keeping our borders safe for the last several decades?

King
King

Alcohol makes you do stupid things not weed asshole. How many people have you heard of that have gambled there life savings away from smoking a joint? How many dwi related deaths are attributed to marijuana use compared to alcohol. Stupid people like you is why we have issues in this world.

Enuf Istoomuch
Enuf Istoomuch

Okay, so I am not surprised that some percentage of cops go bad. That much is human nature. I cannot ignore that, at the same time, other cops caught them or turned them in.

The measure needed here is one of the rate of bad to good.

The action needed here is to fix whatever is broke, to improve not tear down.

Salvatore Scialabba III
Salvatore Scialabba III

My Husband is in New Mexico Jail and has been there for eight months due to the feds acussing him of Consipiring with the intent to distrubit 266 pounds of marijuana when he never had anymarijuana or anything that would make them think he had it. Tell me how bad is our goverment when they are putting people in prison for 10 yrs so they themselfs can allow shipments of drugs to go through while they are destracting the real cops until the bigger shipments can get through with no hassel.... SHUT THE GOVERMENT DOWN BEFORE WE ALL END UP IN PRISON.....

Salvatore Scialabba III
Salvatore Scialabba III

My Husband is in New Mexico Jail and has been there for eight months due to the feds acussing him of Consipiring with the intent to distrubit 266 pounds of marijuana when he never had any of it in his car or anything that would make them think he had it in his car. Tell me how bad is our goverment when they are putting people in prison for 10 yrs so they themselfs can allow shipments of drugs to go through while they are destracting the real cops until the bigger shipments can get through with no hassel.... SHUT THE GOVERMENT DOWN BEFORE WE ALL END UP IN PRISON.....

Chuy930
Chuy930

Get rid or waive the 38yr max age limit for federal law enforcement for healthy active over 38yr old retired military veterans who still want to continue to serve their country. This will help with more mature and professional minded personnel to take on the border and whatever challenges it poses. They have the experience leading troops, coordinating complex operations, and more importantly very patriotic! A 20yr military veteran has already proven his loyalty. That should curtail a lot of these issues, my two pennies, shiny or not.

no name
no name

put American troops on the border and within a few months the same thing will happen...one has to do with the cost of living, two the wages paid, and the impression that the only successful in the country are wealthy and money is power....

Stakman
Stakman

Maybe.... just maybe, we don't hire Hispanics to work the border????? Yamilkar Fierros, Jovana Samaniego Deas, Raul Portillo, Abel Canales, Luis Carlos Vasquez, Jovana Deas, Raquel Esquivel, Diego Esquivel, Margarita Crispin.... seems to be a common thread.... hmmmm

Marcy
Marcy

So the Federal government should violate the US Constitution by discriminating in the hiring of people who have Hispanic names?

Fc
Fc

How is marijuana worse? or is it? Why is marijuana illegal, but alcohol is not?

Ccainm
Ccainm

worse than what?

Guest
Guest

They love to dish the crap whenever they can on the border patrol and the American people but they don't report half of the heinous crimes that illegal aliens commit. We want to know if a crime any crime that was committed by an illegal alien!!!!! TELL US!!!

Jason
Jason

The Border Patrol isn't corrupt, they are just stupid for knowingly allowing Mexican drug smugglers into the United States without question.

As for the Mexicans, they need to work with the United States to resolve border issues, border security, immigration, the criminal illegals, etc. It is the only way to resolve issues plaguing both the United States and Mexico.

Bobby
Bobby

When in the hell will you wake the fu.. up. Illegal immigration is "PLAUGING", narco state, illegal immigration is helping to take care of narco states incompetence, and IS PLAUGING AMERICANS. Wake the f up BOY. Where were you when the good Lord handed out the brains???????

Laura
Laura

Yamilkar Fierros, Jovana Samaniego Deas, Raul Portillo, Abel Canales, Luis Carlos Vasquez, Jovana Deas, Raquel Esquivel, Diego Esquivel, Margarita Crispin.... seems to be a common thread.... hmmmm

JESTERJACKSON
JESTERJACKSON

Wow Laura how brilliant of you to notice that a report about the border with MEXICO in a border state where people lived before Arizona was a state might have hispanic last names. ( Kinda like if you were to talk about the border with Canada I would expect more anglo last names.)

Hrobster
Hrobster

Yes, but does any of this criminality coming across the border bother you. That's all we want to know.

Stakman
Stakman

Read the article ass

Petrafan2003
Petrafan2003

Americans are subject to full body scans and such . How about that at the border . and some kind of x-ray machine that can look into vehicles . Or are americans just treated like crap??

malasangre
malasangre

we've had that shit for a long time. do you know what year this is?

Guest
Guest

Evidently, we Americans are just the work horses paying for it all. We need some kind of device that they can detect tunnels too. Get the mining guys in here they'll tell us what needs to be done. Frankly, I pretty tired of all this illegal alien, Anchor Baby crap! We need to End Birthright Citizenship and deport all the illegal aliens no matter if they’re a man, woman or child ASAP! We need the Southern border closed and guarded with the military!!!!! One of the biggest problems is our politicians are lying down and letting the illegal aliens run all over them and America!!! It’s time for the real Americans to stand up and throw the politicians out on their ears! Then take care of this illegal alien problem once and for all.

01JACK
01JACK

I really get a laugh when i read your good article about the border patrol agents busting people for pot.And how good of a job they do,but when SHERRIFF JOE does his job with DOPE AND ILLEGALS it is all wrong.I know he pissed you off,but he is doing the job i voted for him to do.And im not the only one who believes in that.All you guys do is stick up for the poor wet back illegals WHY.You really do not care about the laws,especially LIMONS he is an ass any way.THANKS AND HAVE A GOOD DAY.

Bobby
Bobby

Right on 01 Jack, I couldn't agree more. Only the mexican power groups, like La Raza, Lulac, Mecha, Maldef, and a thousand others, along with their sick leftist enablers, hate the Sheriff. He is doing exactly what a Sheriff is supposed to do. Too bad there aren't a thousand Sheriff Joes in the U.S.

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

o1jack, you must be high! the story isn;t about border agents doing a good job. quite the contrary. plus, joe arpaio is a punk-ass racist loser. he has never done anything that has helped to curb crime in his miserable career. soon he will be political toast, and you can suck some other nazi's dick.

Gray Race
Gray Race

And I get a laugh when I see dipshits like you thinking that Sheriff Joe actually is reducing illegal immigration. I still see wetbacks working in the back of Ranch market and there all over the place. The guy always like being a media whore and waste millions of tax payer money, and don't know why dumbasses like you vote for him? Mostly cause voters like you have IQ of fly.

 
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