Sharyl Attkisson: Can CBP Properly Vet 15K New Agents?

ICE-BP Uniforms
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Washington, DC

Appearing on this week’s Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson, a former head of internal affairs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discusses whether the agency can properly vet 15,000 new Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and officers.

James Tomscheck served as head of CBP internal affairs for eight years during the Bush and Obama Administrations. During that timeframe, he faced the challenge of hiring and properly screening 10,000 people between 2006 and 2008. Following that surge a government watchdog report detailed a dramatic increase in corruption cases involving Border Patrol and ICE agents, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly reported in February 2013. The report led to CBP adding polygraph examinations to its hiring and screening process.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly ordered the hiring of 5,000 Border Patrol agents, 500 CBP Air and Marine Operations officers, and 10,000 ICE agents and officers in a February memo tasking the implementation of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration enforcement.

Tomscheck’s interview with Sharyl Attkisson begins at the 10-minute mark in this video.

“I very much hope that those going forward with the initiative look at what we’ve learned when we executed the border patrols search of 2006-2008,” Tomscheck told Attkisson Sunday morning. His department faced the challenges of screening 10,000 new hires during that period.

Attkisson asked the former head of internal affairs about drug dealers and cartel members being hired inadvertently during the surge. “We certainly believe that to be the case,” Tomscheck replied. “We do know that in the thousands of polygraph exams that we administered after the background investigation, more than half of those persons that cleared that background investigation failed the polygraph exam and provided detailed admissions as to why it was they failed the exam; included in that study group of more than 1,000 were persons who admitted that they were infiltrators, that they worked for a drug trafficking organization, either on the US side of the border or the Mexican side of the border, who had been directed to infiltrate CBP and compromise what they do there.”

Attkisson noted that through Tomscheck’s insistence, polygraph screening became a standard in the hiring process. “What we found in those first 100+ exams was genuinely shocking,” he explained. “We found persons failing the polygraph at a higher rate than other agencies, but not dramatically so. What was dramatically different was the nature of the admissions obtained from those persons who had failed. They had included many persons who were actively involved in smuggling, persons who very frequently used drugs were currently using controlled substances and included persons involved in significant serious felony crimes.”

Attkisson reports frequently on border-related issues including corruption within the agencies. In June 2016, Breitbart Texas Editor-in-Chief Brandon Darby and Ortiz reported on an interview with Attkisson on Breitbart News Daily (Sirius XM Patriot 125) with Stephen K. Bannon.

Sharyl Attkisson made the shocking assertion that Mexican cartels have infiltrated the U.S. military and U.S. law enforcement agencies–and she is correct. Her assertion is backed up by years of Breitbart Texas reports showing that some U.S. soldiers have worked for cartel efforts to smuggle humans and drugs and that far too many in U.S. federal law enforcement agencies have fallen into working for Mexican cartels.

During the interview with Bannon, Attkisson discussed corruption by drug cartels of members of both the military and Border Patrol:

On the other hand, I think about the military guys, and they may think, is this a victimless crime? It’s really not illegal to come to this country. The two Mexicans they had been transporting last week had each been removed from the US three times before. And maybe they think, why shouldn’t I make some money on the side doing something the government doesn’t really mind. They don’t mind if the illegal immigrants come here.

I think they know about it. And it’s people inside Border Patrol and inside the military who have long been involved in smuggling drugs, as well as smuggling humans. They’re well aware of it. They don’t talk about it much but it’s well known inside. I’ll be doing a story in the Fall about corruption inside the Border Patrol which is just out of control. There’s so many agents. The cartels place people inside Border Patrol now, smugglers place people inside Border Patrol get them hired there. It’s a big issue.

Corruption of CBP law enforcement agents and officers by drug cartel members continues to plague the agency. In November 2016, Homeland Security Investigations agents arrested a Border Patrol supervisor, Eduardo Bazan, on charges of accepting bribes and participating in fake drug seizures, Breitbart Texas’ Ildefonso Ortiz reported.

As part of their investigation into Bazan, HSI used informants and defendants to identify one of the fake seizures that had been carried with the alleged help of Bazan, court documents revealed. Following that new information, HSI agents interviewed Bazan on October 31, about the seizure. During that interview, Bazan denied any involvement in the scheme. Agents the tracked down an incident report that they used to determine Bazan’s role in the case. During a second interview on November 1, Bazan told agents that he had played a role in the fake seizure and had been paid for it, court records revealed.

In November 2015, Ortiz reported on the arrest of Border Patrol Agent Joel Juna for his alleged role in a cartel beheading in South Texas. Despite the capital murder conviction of his brother, Gulf Cartel Commander Eduardo “Comandante Pajarito” Luna, a jury failed to find enough evidence to convict the Border Patrol agent and found him not guilty. “At the time of Joel Luna’s arrest, authorities discovered inside a safe a badge, a duty-issued rifle, a jeweled handgun with the words Cartel Del Golfo and Pajarito inscribed on them, $90,000 and various drugs,” Ortiz wrote. The jury found this evidence to be enough to convict him on two counts of engaging in organized crime.

Federal authorities arrested a CBP officer in Brownsville, Texas, for his role helping drug cartels smuggle drugs through ports of entry. The jury found Jose Luis Zavala guilty and Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced him to six-and-one- half years in prison.

In September 2016, Breitbart California’s Michelle Moons reported on the arrest of CBP Officer Jose Luis Cota for his alleged role in receiving sex and cash for smuggling drugs across the border.

With that said, Tomscheck said the move to hire more agents and officers is a positive step. “I don’t think that there’s any question that there needs to be an increase in staffing to make the border more secure,” he told the Full Measure host. “Whatever type of physical barrier you place at the border, there needs to be a physical presence of persons to apprehend those persons that scale the fence or the wall; whatever barrier separates the two countries. That can only be accomplished with a sufficient number of agents and officers positioned at the border to make those apprehensions.”

His advice to the Trump Administration, “Move very cautiously. If there is a reduction in the security protocols to screen and vet applicants, I believe we will give compromise to the agencies future.”

Editorial Note: “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson” is a weekly broadcast focusing on investigative, original and accountability reporting. The host is Sharyl Attkisson, five-time Emmy Award winner and recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting. She is backed by a team of award-winning journalists. “Full Measure” features original reporting and investigations each week on topics ranging from immigration to government waste, national security concerns and whistleblower reports on government abuse and misdeeds. “Full Measure” airs Sunday on Sinclair stations nationwide, and is streamed live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. ET at

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.