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Border Patrol Protests Ads Designed To ‘Root Out Corruption’

Sun., Oct. 12, 1997

Advertisements in Mexican newspapers that offer a reward for information about corrupt U.S. law enforcement officials are raising a storm of protest among some border inspectors.

The ads were placed by a task force overseen by the U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego and designed to “root out corruption wherever we find it,” said Amalia Meza, top deputy to U.S. Attorney Alan Bersin.

Robert Tobias, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, is calling for a halt to the practice.

“This ad virtually gives drug smugglers the green light by telling them they can put any or all inspectors under suspicion and thus force them to defend themselves, simply because somebody with their own agenda accuses them,” Tobias said.

The union represents 150,000 Treasury employees, including more than 12,000 customs agents. Customs officials said an allegation against an inspector can put a career on hold for up to two years.

Meza said the ads, which do not specify a money amount, are an experiment by the Border Corruption Task Force, which includes representatives from the FBI and most other federal law enforcement agencies in San Diego.

Since the task force was formed, 18 federal officers have been prosecuted, most of whom were from the Customs and Immigration and Naturalization services, Meza said.

“The ad doesn’t single out one agency,” Meza said. “We want information about anyone. It could even be someone in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We want people to know we’re aggressive about it.”


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