An Arizona Border Patrol officer has been arrested for allegedly using his patrol car to smuggle marijuana into the United States from Mexico while on duty, providing another reminder that corruption helps fuel the drug trade on both sides of the border.
According to the Associated Press, members of the Southwest Border Corruption Task Force were conducting aerial surveillance along a remote stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border on December 2 when they caught Border Patrol Agent Aaron Anaya in the act of attempting to smuggle 147 pounds of marijuana in his official patrol car.
Task Force officials reportedly watched as Anaya approached three black duffel bags containing bundles of marijuana that had been thrown over the border fence, loaded them up in the back of the vehicle, and then continued his routine patrol.
Anaya was arrested following the incident, and is facing drug trafficking charges in an Arizona federal court.
InSight Crime Analysis
The arrest is the latest reminder that US officials are not immune to the financial incentives offered by the drug trade. A report released in August by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documented several instances of border officials accepting kickbacks in exchange for allowing drug shipments to cross the border. It is much rarer for authorities to directly participate in drug smuggling, as Anaya did.
There is evidence to suggest that the problem of corruption may be getting worse. In 2011 two top DHS officials claimed there had been a marked increase in the number of agents who accept bribes from drug trafficking organizations, and said that between 2004 and 2011 there had been a 38 percent rise in complaints against border officers. While this has been blamed on insufficient vetting of new employees following the DHS' rapid post-2004 expansion, some of the most serious instances of corruption have involved veteran employees.