As Mexican drug cartels are squeezed by tighter security at the U.S. border, they are intensifying efforts to evade capture by trying to bribe U.S. Border Patrol agents, federal officials told a Senate panel yesterday, reports the Arizona Republic. What’s worse, new agents potentially susceptible to being corrupted may be slipping through an overburdened job-screening process as the U.S. expands its border-security efforts.
A big part of the problem is that the agency has added 20,000 employees in the past five years as Congress has moved to beef up border security. There are not enough people to screen job applicants properly and ensure that they take polygraph tests before they are hired, said assistant commissioner James Tomsheck. Of the 10 to 15 percent who do undergo the tests, an overwhelming 60 percent are rejected for employment. Experienced Border Patrol officers are also supposed to be reinvestigated every five years to prevent corruption, but there is a backlog, and more than 10,000 employees are overdue for those reviews.