Cor­rup­tion on the Bor­der - and be­yond

Traveling Minds - - Table Of Contents -

Dur­ing his trial on pub­lic cor­rup­tion charges in 2013, for­mer U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer Hec­tor Ro­driguez ad­mit­ted that he had been re­ceiv­ing bribes of cash and lux­ury items for two years in re­turn for ad­mit­ting il­le­gal aliens into the United States through his in­spec­tion lane at the San Ysidro Port of En­try in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia.

While most of the law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and pub­lic of­fi­cials who work at the coun­try’s ports and bor­ders are hon­est and ded­i­cated, even one cor­rupt of­fi­cial like Ro­driguez can pose a se­ri­ous threat to the na­tion’s se­cu­rity—be­cause what if one of those in­di­vid­u­als smug­gled through a port of en­try is a ter­ror­ist car­ry­ing a bomb?

For that rea­son, the FBI—IN col­lab­o­ra­tion with the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity—is launch­ing a cam­paign to raise aware­ness about the dan­gers of bor­der cor­rup­tion so that ci­ti­zens and gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees who see cor­rup­tion or sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity will call the FBI to re­port it.

“Pub­lic cor­rup­tion is the FBI’S top crim­i­nal pri­or­ity,” said Ser­gio Gal­van, chief of the Bu­reau’s Pub­lic Cor­rup­tion Unit at FBI Head­quar­ters in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. “It is crit­i­cal for us to en­gage the pub­lic to help stop th­ese crimes. We’re not ex­pect­ing ci­ti­zens to be de­tec­tives,” Gal­van ex­plained, “but if you see some­thing that doesn’t seem right, re­port it. If you no­tice some­one go­ing through se­cu­rity with­out be­ing searched, or if you work on the bor­der and know some­one in your agency that is look­ing the other way, call the FBI.”

The bor­der aware­ness cam­paign will in­clude pub­lic­ity out­reach ef­forts in 10 FBI field of­fices whose ar­eas of re­spon­si­bil­ity in­clude U.S. ports of en­try such as bor­der cross­ings, air­ports and sea­ports. The cities are Buf­falo, New York; Detroit, Michi­gan; El Paso and San An­to­nio, Texas; Fargo, North Dakota; Los An­ge­les and San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia; Miami, Florida; Phoenix, Ari­zona; and Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton.

“We want to know what peo­ple are see­ing and hear­ing,” Gal­van said, “whether you are a fre­quent trav­eler, a truck driver or a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial who works on the bor­der.”

Hec­tor Ro­driguez, a very small fish, pleaded guilty to re­ceiv­ing bribes and bring­ing aliens into the coun­try for fi­nan­cial gain. In 2013 he was sen­tenced to five years in prison and three years of su­per­vised re­lease for re­ceiv­ing thou­sands of dol­lars in cash, along with Rolex watches and an ex­pen­sive ve­hi­cle, for look­ing the other way. But pub­lic cor­rup­tion on the bor­der is by no means lim­ited to the south­west bor­der.

The FBI has 22 bor­der cor­rup­tion task forces and work­ing groups across the coun­try staffed by 39 lo­cal, state and fed­eral part­ner agen­cies, in­clud­ing U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion. More than 250 of­fi­cers are work­ing cases and gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence to stop pub­lic cor­rup­tion along all U.S. ports of en­try.

And while fed­eral, state and lo­cal of­fi­cials who serve along Amer­ica's bor­ders are work­ing hard to keep the coun­try safe from out­side threats, “when even one of those in­di­vid­u­als is com­pro­mised, it cre­ates a grave sit­u­a­tion,” Gal­van said. “What I would like to say to the pub­lic and to in­di­vid­u­als who work in agen­cies that serve at the bor­der is that the FBI is here to help you—but we can’t help if we don’t get in­for­ma­tion. If you see some­thing, pick up the phone. Call your lo­cal field of­fice or sub­mit a tip on our web­site. The point of our pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign,” he added, “is that we need your eyes and ears to help keep the coun­try safe.”

What the FBI does not men­tion is that some­times the cor­rup­tion is in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized and comes from the high­est lev­els in Wash­ing­ton. They avoid men­tion­ing the dis­as­trous "Op­er­a­tion Fast and Fu­ri­ous" in which the Bu­reau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco and Firearms (ATF) strongly en­cour­aged gun deal­ers to sell weapons to peo­ple they knew or sus­pected were tak­ing the guns into Mex­ico.

The ATF claimed that it had planned to track the weapons into Mex­ico to iden­tify the buy­ers and ul­ti­mately iden­tify mem­bers of the lead­ing drug car­tels, but the ATF ac­tu­ally had no sys­tem in place to track the weapons and de­pended upon the cor­rupt Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment to re­port when one of the guns was seized, usu­ally af­ter it had al­ready been used to kill peo­ple.

The ATF could have had agents fol­low the buy­ers, but it didn't. It could have put RFID chips in the guns, so they could be de­tected when cross­ing any le­gal bor­ders, but it didn't. There were sim­ply no ef­forts to track the guns af­ter they left the deal­ers. One well-known gun­run­ner, Uriel Patino, bought 723 guns for Mex­ico's drug car­tels un­der the ATF'S bril­liant pro­gram.

The Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment did man­age to seize some of the guns and re­port the in­for­ma­tion to the U.S. gov­ern­ment, but no car­tel mem­bers were ever iden­ti­fied.

As a re­sult of the ATF'S crim­i­nal ac­tions, thou­sands of guns, which ended up in Mex­ico, likely killed thou­sands or tens of thou­sands of peo­ple. Many of the guns are still in use and will con­tinue to kill for years to come.

So far, Mex­ico's drug wars have killed an es­ti­mated 200,000 peo­ple, just in the past 10 years. The car­tels are be­lieved to gen­er­ate be­tween $20 and $30 bil­lion in an­nual rev­enue from drugs. This is just the whole­sale rev­enue. The re­tail value is vastly greater.

The ATF op­er­a­tion blew up when one of the guns was iden­ti­fied af­ter it had been used on the U.S. side of the bor­der to kill Bor­der Pa­trol agent Agent Brian Terry in De­cem­ber 2010.

The gun­run­ning op­er­a­tion had been of­fi­cially started in 2005 by the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion as "Project Gun­run­ner". The gov­ern­ment claimed that it would re­duce the flow of firearms into Mex­ico and de­prive the Mex­i­can drug car­tels of weapons. Some buy­ers were iden­ti­fied and pros­e­cuted, but by the time Obama in­her­ited the pro­gram, there were few prose­cu­tions and more guns flow­ing across the bor­der.

The op­er­a­tion was pos­si­bly part of the Bush fam­ily's on­go­ing drug trade in part­ner­ship with the CIA that ac­tively sup­ported se­lect Mex­i­can car­tels and waged war on com­pet­ing gangs, just as the CIA-DEA had pre­vi­ously pro­tected the Cali car­tel in Colom­bia while tar­get­ing the com­pet­ing Medellin car­tel.

The CIA started the mod­ern drug in­dus­try af­ter WWII, when it needed a way to fund its se­cret stay-be­hind ter­ror­ist army and in­tel­li­gence unit in Europe com­monly re­ferred to as Gla­dio.

Af­ter WWII, fear of Soviet in­flu­ence was high and se­cret para­mil­i­tary forces were cre­ated to counter the threat on a covert level.

The se­cret forces were part of a Euro­pean op­er­a­tion orig­i­nally un­der the Clan­des­tine Com­mit­tee of the West­ern Union (CCWU), founded in 1948. Af­ter NATO was formed in 1949, the CCWU was folded into the se­cret "Clan­des­tine Plan­ning Com­mit­tee" (CPC), founded in 1951 and over­seen by the SHAPE (Supreme Head­quar­ters Al­lied Pow­ers Europe).

Ev­ery Euro­pean NATO mem­ber had its own se­cret army, and only the one in Italy was ac­tu­ally called Gla­dio. In Bel­gium it was named SDRA8, in Den­mark Ab­sa­lon, in Ger­many TD BJD, in Greece LOK, in Lux­em­bourg Stay-be­hind, in the Nether­lands I&O, in Nor­way ROC, in Por­tu­gal Agin­ter Press, in Spain Red Quan­tum, in Switzer­land P26, in Turkey Özel Harp Dairesi, In Swe­den AGAG (Ak­tions Grup­pen Arla Gryn­ing), in France Plan Bleu, and in Aus­tria OWSGV. The code name of the stay-be­hind unit in Fin­land re­mains un­known.

The U.S. unit was formed in July 1946 af­ter the United States in­her­ited and re­vived the anti-rus­sia Ger­man in­tel­li­gence or­ga­ni­za­tion led by Ma­jor Gen­eral Rein­hardt Gehlen. Gehlen had been in­volved in the plot to assi­nate Hitler, but his in­volve­ment was kept se­cret un­til af­ter the war. He com­manded the 12th De­part­ment of the Ger­man Army Gen­eral Staff (For­eign Ar­mies East, or FHO) with the nickname The Were­wolves. The unit spe­cial­ized in tor­tur­ing sus­pected Rus­sian agents to ob­tain in­tel­li­gence of du­bi­ous value, in­tel­li­gence that Gehlen pre­served and traded to the Amer­i­cans af­ter the war.

Af­ter the Yalta agree­ment was signed, Gehlen was taken to Fort Hunt, Vir­ginia, where he met with Wil­liam Dono­van, founder of the pre­cur­sor or­ga­ni­za­tion to the CIA, the Of­fice of Strate­gic Ser­vices (OSS). In July 1946 Gehlen was sent back to Ger­many to start a new counter-so­vient in­tel­li­gence or­ga­ni­za­tion. It's cover name was South Ger­man In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Or­ga­ni­za­tion but it came to be called the Gehlen Or­ga­ni­za­tion, or Gehlen Org.

Dono­van changed the were­wolves nickname to Glad­i­a­tors (Gla­dio). Congress would not fund the or­ga­ni­za­tion, so the ini­tial fund­ing of a mas­sive $200 mil­lion came from the Rock­e­feller and Mel­lon foun­da­tions. Their in­vest­ment gave them a cer­tain de­gree of con­trol over Gla­dio and the CIA.

The Gehlen Org was only part of the Gla­dio or­ga­ni­za­tion, and in the 1950s more lay­ers and branches were cre­ated while Gehlen be­came a de­coy for the more se­cre­tive and crim­i­nal groups. In April 1956, the Gehlen Or­ga­ni­za­tion was of­fi­cially handed over to the gov­ern­ment of the Fed­eral Re­pub­lic of Ger­many un­der Chan­cel­lor Kon­rad Ade­nauer. It formed the nu­cleus of the newly cre­ated Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst (BND, or Fed­eral In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice).

When the foun­da­tion money started to run out, the CIA had to de­velop a clan­des­tine fund­ing sys­tem for Gla­dio. Ini­tially it con­vinced the Si­cil­ian Mafia to sell heroin to blacks in in­ner cities to pro­vide the fund­ing. Over time Gla­dio be­come a mas­sive in­de­pen­dent in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal force and the Mafia was no longer needed.

By the 1960's, the in­ter­na­tional drug trade was un­der the CIA'S di­rect con­trol and the money was used to fund a wide range of il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

The ex­is­tence of Gla­dio and the other un­der­ground NATO forces re­mained a well-kept se­cret even from their own gov­ern­ments un­til 1990, when in­ves­ti­ga­tions in Italy ex­posed the unit op­er­at­ing there.

Some other coun­tries started their own in­ves­ti­ga­tions and un­cov­ered their own ver­sions of Gla­dio.

In the 2005 book en­ti­tled NATO'S Se­cret Ar­mies: Op­er­a­tion Gla­dio and Ter­ror­ism in West­ern Europe, Swiss his­to­rian Daniele Ganser ac­cuses Gla­dio of try­ing to in­flu­ence poli­cies through the means of "false flag" op­er­a­tions and a "strat­egy of ten­sion." Ganser claims that on var­i­ous oc­ca­sions stay-be­hind move­ments be­came linked to right-wing ter­ror­ism, crime and at­tempted coups d'état. He fur­ther claims that the units closely co­op­er­ated with NATO and the CIA and that Gla­dio in Italy was re­spon­si­ble for ter­ror­ist at­tacks against its own civil­ian pop­u­la­tion. The Ital­ian gov­ern­ment came to some of the same con­clu­sions.

In 2006, the U.S. State De­part­ment is­sued a com­mu­niqué con­firm­ing the ex­is­tence of NATO stay-be­hind ef­forts and the pres­ence of the "Gla­dio" stay-be­hind unit in Italy. It claimed that the pur­pose was aid­ing re­sis­tance in the event of Soviet ag­gres­sion di­rected west­ward but de­nied claims that the United States or­dered, sup­ported or au­tho­rized ter­ror­ism by stay-be­hind units.

The 2016 book by Paul L. Wil­liams en­ti­tled Op­er­a­tion Gla­dio — The Un­holy Al­liance be­tween the Vat­i­can, the CIA, and the Mafia ex­poses Gla­dio much fur­ther and pro­vides a valu­able frame­work for re­lated re­search. Wil­liams was care­ful to not in­clude in­for­ma­tion that would threaten his life too much but pro­vided im­por­tant clues for those will­ing to read be­tween the lines.

Prior to writ­ing the book, Wil­liams worked for seven years as a con­sul­tant to the FBI about ter­ror­ist and Mafia crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tions. The CIA'S drug trade was pub­licly ex­posed in the 1980s Iran-con­tra scan­dal. For­mer CIA Di­rec­tor Ge­orge H. Bush, as Vice Pres­i­dent un­der Ron­ald Rea­gan, ran a mas­sive drug smug­gling op­er­a­tion in which coca paste from South Amer­ica was flown into Costa Rica and pro­cessed into co­caine and crack and then fer­ried on mil­i­tary and CIA trans­port planes onto U.S. Air Force bases and into Mena, Arkansas, un­der the pro­tec­tion of then Gov­er­nor Bill Clin­ton. The drugs were sold through a CIA-BUSH con­trolled dis­tri­bu­tion net­work and some of the pro­ceeds were used to fund a ter­ror­ist army in Nicaragua called the Con­tras. Only a small por­tion of the funds gen­er­ated were traced.

The Iran por­tion of Iran-con­tra was Rea­gan-bush pay­ing the Ira­ni­ans to keep the Amer­i­can hostages un­til af­ter Rea­gan was in­au­gu­rated and sab­o­tag­ing Carter's ef­forts to res­cue the hostages when the ne­go­ti­a­tions broke down. Th­ese acts of high trea­son were done to en­sure that Rea­gan was elected and Ge­orge Bush was Vice Pres­i­dent. Bush was the real force in the Whitehouse and was able to hide many of his crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties be­hind the fee­ble­minded Rea­gan.

Pub­lic ex­po­sure and con­gres­sional hear­ings had lit­tle im­pact on the CIA drug op­er­a­tions, and they con­tinue to­day.

Jeb Bush and the Bush fam­ily have been pub­licly tied to at least one of the Mex­i­can car­tels. Jeb is the brother of Ge­orge W. and the son of Ge­orge H. W. Bush. He had close per­sonal ties to Raul Salinas de Gor­tari, brother of Mex­ico’s for­mer pres­i­dent Car­los Salinas de Gor­tari. In the 1990s, Raul the “drug king­pin,” ac­cord­ing to Switzer­land’s fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor Carla del Ponte, was a lead­ing fig­ure of the dom­i­nant Mex­i­can drug car­tel. The Bush fam­ily was known to be very close to the Salinas de Gor­tari fam­ily and they of­ten va­ca­tioned to­gether.

Forbes magazine named Salinas de Gor­tari as one of the "10 most cor­rupt Mex­i­cans" in 2013.

The same crim­i­nal Bush fam­ily-cia force was also in­volved in the Sav­ings and Loan scan­dal of the late 1980s and early 1990s in which hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars were looted from Sav­ings and Loans, a kind of bank that was not reg­u­lated to the same de­gree as reg­u­lar banks.

The grand theft was made pos­si­ble by bank­ing dereg­u­la­tion car­ried out by Rea­gan and a Repub­li­can Congress. The whole­sale fraud has cost tax­pay­ers an es­ti­mated $500 bil­lion.

The multi-tril­lion-dol­lar heist that was the sub-prime mort­gage cri­sis was car­ried out with much greater care and has so far not been pub­licly traced di­rectly to the BUSH-CIA car­tel. How­ever, much of the vast for­tune gen­er­ated by the drug trade and Sav­ings and Loan scan­dal ended up in the banks re­spon­si­ble for the sub-prime mort­gage scam.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions car­ried out in Switzer­land and the United States have found that drug money from Bush pal Raul Salinas de Gor­tari was laun­dered through Citibank.

Citibank was a key player in the sub-prime mort­gage scan­dal, and paid a $7 bil­lion fine for its role. It was also one of the banks bailed out by the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

Citi was also deeply in­volved in the En­ron scan­dal and in 2003 it agreed to pay $101 mil­lion to set­tle SEC charges re­lat­ing to the En­ron fraud plus an­other $19 mil­lion re­lat­ing to ma­nip­u­la­tion of fi­nan­cial state­ments by an­other com­pany called Dyn­egy. In 2005 Citi agreed to pay $2 bil­lion to set­tle law­suits brought by En­ron in­vestors.

Citibank's crim­i­nal roots can be traced all the way back to the early Rock­e­feller in­ter­ests, when it was the pri­mary bank of the Stan­dard Oil em­pire.

If the FBI wants to com­pletely stamp out bor­der cor­rup­tion, they will have to aim high, very high.

If Don­ald Trump wants to se­cure the bor­der, he will have his work cut out for him. He may have to take on the most pow­er­ful and lethal crim­i­nal force on Earth, but then per­haps it is just this force that is the hid­den hand be­hind Mr. Trump and so it re­ally has noth­ing to worry about. This would not be the first time it placed one of its pup­pets in the U.S. Pres­i­dent's chair.

How­ever, by keep­ing the CIA vis­i­bly at arm's length and re­tain­ing his own se­cu­rity staff, Trump may be sig­nal­ing that he knows more about what is go­ing on than peo­ple might imag­ine.

If JFK had not trusted the CIA and Se­cret Ser­vice, per­haps he would have not been as­sas­si­nated and Amer­ica would be a much dif­fer­ent coun­try to­day.

Some of the guns seized from crim­i­nals in 2009 in Mex­ico that were pur­chased un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion's il­le­gal "Op­er­a­tion Fast and Fu­ri­ous"

Rein­hardt Gehle, circa 1943

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