May 17, 2008
New Arrests in Human Smuggling Operations at Mexican Border
BY Andrew Becker
The broadcast of "Mexico: Crimes at the Border" airs Tuesday, May 27 on PBS at 9 pm ET.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer was arrested May 16 in San Diego on suspicion of allowing smugglers to drive illegal aliens and drugs through a U.S.-Mexico border checkpoint.
It's the latest arrest in a string of recent cases of corrupt U.S. border officials involved in smuggling humans.
Luis Francisco Alarid worked at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, about seven miles east of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the world's largest land border crossing point. According to court records obtained by FRONTLINE/WORLD and The New York Times, federal investigators watched Alarid on several occasions fail to properly check vehicles as they passed through his inspection lane.
As part of the investigation, police found dozens of illegal immigrants and hundreds of pounds of marijuana that federal agents suspect Alarid allowed smugglers to sneak into the country.
Watch a FRONTLINE/WORLD and New York Times joint investigation on Tuesday, May 27 at 9 p.m. ET for a full report on the business of human smuggling and corruption along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Visit the preview site for "Mexico: Crimes at the Border," where you can watch a promo of the broadcast, and interview clips with a human smuggler and an immigration expert who has been studying illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border for more than 20 years.
The New York Times: Border Agents Lured by the Other Side
In this New York Times story, Randal C. Archibald and FRONTLINE/World correspondent Andrew Becker report on the case of two former Border Patrol officers, Raul Villareal and his brother Fidel, who are "suspected of helping to smuggle an untold number of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Brazil across the border." Both men quit the Border Patrol two years ago and are believed to be somewhere in Mexico.
The problem of corrupted officers has begun to plague the Border Patrol as it continues to ramps up recruitment to meet stricter security measures at the border. The agency is so concerned about rising corruption among its officers, it will soon introduce lie detector tests to check whether potential new hires are already working with smuggling groups.
According to the Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, the number of corruption cases against United States border guards in the four states bordering Mexico more than doubled between 2003 and 2007.