U.S. Customs Inspector Lizandro Martinez allowed a Ford pickup truck with 1,635 pounds of marijuana into the U.S. for $10,000, says the Houston Chronicle. Martinez, 44, is behind bars, suspected of taking more than $1 million in bribes while waving through more than 50 tons of drugs – more than his law-abiding colleagues seized at eight South Texas ports of entry in an entire year. As Martinez awaits an April 26 sentencing, authorities are trying to figure out how an agent on the front lines of the “drug war” went so terribly bad.
What’s emerging, some former law enforcement officials say, is a troubling picture, a striking example of how Customs failed to prevent flagrant corruption on the Texas-Mexico border. What’s most disturbing about his case, some officials say, is that U.S. Customs and Border Protection kept Martinez on its payroll even as complaints against him mounted during his 13-year tenure. Fhe FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement learned that Martinez was allegedly taking drug bribes in August 2003. Investigators found that Martinez and his wife appeared to be living far beyond their means. He earned $55,664 a year and she did not report an income. Yet in 2003, the couple made more than $400,000 in cash purchases.