NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Border Corruption Task Force Closes Without Indictments


September 1996

The Border Corruption Task Force, formed in response to various criminal allegations, closed its investigation on August 21, saying that they found no credible evidence of widespread corruption (Associated Press, "Customs Corruption Probe Closed," Washington Post, August 23, 1996, p. A19).

The FBI interviewed more than 80 witnesses in the 17-month probe into widely publicized allegations, but no one provided enough evidence to merit prosecution, said U.S. Attorney Alan Bersin. "We are satisfied there has been a complete, fair and impartial review of the allegations by seasoned professionals," Bersin said in a news conference.

The allegations centered on an October 3, 1990 incident in which a supervisor attempted to let a Mexican gas tanker packed with 8,000 pounds of cocaine pass into the U.S. After inspectors challenged the supervisor's decision, the tanker was stopped. The tanker's driver escaped to Mexico, and was found dead later in the trunk of a car.

In 1991, former Customs inspector Mike Horner publicly alleged that high-ranking Customs officials were aiding drug smugglers. He said the decision not to prosecute was disappointing, but expected. Bersin said that while Horner's allegations were dismissed, the task force was instrumental in indicting and convicting other corrupt federal inspectors, including INS inspectors Arthur Garcia and Richard Felix, and Customs inspector Guy Henry Kmett.