<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Al Giordano

Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
¡Bienvenidos en Español!
Bem Vindos em Português!

Editorial Policy and Disclosures

Narco News is supported by:
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All contents, unless otherwise noted, © 2000-2011 Al Giordano

The trademarks "Narco News," "The Narco News Bulletin," "School of Authentic Journalism," "Narco News TV" and NNTV © 2000-2011 Al Giordano


The Hydra

One Customs Agent Accidentally Shot Another: Guess Which Agent Got promoted?

By Bill Conroy
Chapter 5 of a Book Published by Narco News

March 3, 2004

Customs Agent John Yera stood in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn hotel on June 25, 1991. He was wearing a wire and working an undercover operation targeting two Colombian drug smugglers.

Yera was in the parking lot for an exchange of 100 kilos of cocaine. The U.S. Attorney and Yera’s group supervisor had instructed him to get the Colombian suspects to handle the cocaine, which was stashed in the trunk of a car.

Unfortunately, Yera’s supervisor failed to brief him on how or when the take-down team would approach the scene to make the arrests. Yera also found out later that the agents monitoring his wire did not speak Spanish.

As result, Yera, along with the suspects, were caught off guard when the take-down team suddenly converged on the parking lot. Among the first on the scene was Group Supervisor Phillip Shields, who raced in with his car, his gun drawn, his finger on the trigger.

Shields hit the brakes and shifted the vehicle into park. In the process, his gun accidentally discharged. The bullet ripped through Yera’s back, hitting his spine just above his waist—leaving Yera paralyzed from the stomach down.

In a segment aired nationally in 1999 on the ABC-TV news-magazine show “20/20,” Customs Commissioner Raymond Kelly stated the following: “John Yera is clearly a hero, and we should be championing people like John Yera. He certainly has done the job we asked of him. He’s doing excellent work now in our cyber-crimes smuggling center.”

Despite the commissioner’s public praise of Yera, the paralyzed agent wasn’t getting a hero’s welcome behind the scenes. In fact, the careless actions of his supervisors in the botched drug bust as well as the treatment he received from Customs in the wake of the shooting compelled Yera to join in a class-action discrimination lawsuit filed by Hispanic agents against Customs.

“Had sufficient care been taken to ensure that a Spanish-speaking agent was monitoring the undercover wire, Agent Yera would not have been injured,” states the class-action litigation filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., in May 2002. “Similarly situated non-Hispanic agents who speak English during undercover assignments are not treated in a similar fashion. The lack of concern here is reflective of the discriminatory animus against Hispanic special agents.”

The lawsuit goes on to point out that none of the supervisory agents involved in the botched undercover operation were disciplined. “In fact, Customs promoted Phillip Shields, the supervisory agent who shot John Yera,” the lawsuit states.

In the wake of the shooting, Yera spent about two years in rehabilitation. “During this time, he was forced to stay in a hotel for a year until handicapped accessible housing could be obtained for him,” the class-action lawsuit states. “The Customs Service denied him per diem allowance for this entire period. The added financial burden piled insult on injury.”

Among the other problems confronted by Yera after the shooting included having to endure delay after delay—waiting nearly a year and half—to get approval from Customs’ management to telecommute to his job, according to attorney Tom Allison, who was involved in the early stages of the class-action litigation. Yera sought permission to work from a computer at home because occasionally the pain from his injury or inclement weather make it impossible for him to get into the office.

“While assigned to the Cybersmuggling Center in 2002, Agent Yera and another Hispanic agent were speaking Spanish,” the 2002 class-action complaint states. “Customs Program Manager Claude Davenport told them both that they should stop speaking Spanish and speak ‘American.’”

Ironically, according to the litigation, Davenport had previously asked Yera to help translate some Spanish documents.

“People sometimes don’t always like the truth,” says one Customs agent who asked not to be named. “But the truth is, Customs did this to him (Yera), and they don’t seem to care. Until you’ve been a victim of discrimination, maybe you can’t realize how much it hurts and pulls in your gut, and makes you feel alone.”

Class action

Charges that U.S. Customs engages in racial profiling by subjecting a disproportionate number of minorities to searches at airports led to congressional hearings in the spring of 1999.

Similarly, Senate and U.S. Treasury probes were launched in 1999 into allegations that the agency’s internal discipline system was wracked with problems, including lax enforcement, favoritism and inadequate follow-up. Customs officials also were accused of retaliating against whistleblowers who reported wrongdoing.

In the wake of the publicity and scrutiny, officials with Customs, including Commissioner Raymond Kelly, promised Congress and the public that the problems would be fixed.

“While instances of corruption in Customs are few … we may not have always done a good job in responding to allegations of misconduct. That is changed,” Assistant Commissioner of Customs William Keefer told a Senate committee in May 1999.

However, like the mythical Hydra, a beast that sprouts two new heads for every head severed, the problems within the federal agency continue to multiply, according to a number of current and former Hispanic Customs agents.

Those agents decided to strike at the heart of the beast by banding together to expose what they allege is a machine-style system of management within Customs that is dominated by a good-ol’-boy network of powerful Anglos who are perpetuating a culture of institutionalized racism.

To that end, as of September 2000, several dozen former and current Hispanic Customs agents had paid a $225 retainer to the law firm pressing an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) class-action complaint against Customs, according to Thomas Allison, who represented the agents in the litigation.

“If it was shown through congressional hearings that Customs was racially profiling citizens, why is it hard to believe the agency is racially profiling its own employees?” asks one Hispanic Customs agent who asked to remain anonymous. “Eventually, I’ll retire, but what happens to the people who remain? The animal (racism) will still be there eating everything up.”

The class-action discrimination complaint, which was launched in March 1995 by Special Agent Miguel Contreras, had grown to encompass a class of some 400 active and retired agents in the offices of Investigations and Internal Affairs by the spring of 2002.

The original complaint alleged that the Customs Service’s “policies and practices toward Spanish-speaking agents, specifically regarding how they are assigned, have a negative impact with respect to training, promotions and discipline.”

Allison stresses, though, that the case was fought tooth and nail every step of the way by Customs officials. He says it took five years of legal battles finally to move the EEO case to the discovery phase.

“We’ve run into a brick wall with every decision made in this case being appealed by Customs,” Allison says. “Frankly, they (the appeals) have been a waste of time on everyone’s part. If there’s a problem in Customs, it’s in everyone’s best interest to look into it and get it resolved.”

In addition to the alleged stonewalling, the agents participating in the case, Allison asserts, have lived in fear of retaliation from the agency. Allison took the case all the way through the EEO process. Then, in 2002, another lawyer, Ron Schmidt of Washington, D.C.-based Shaffer, Rapaport & Schmidt, stepped in to take on the next phase of the battle.

Schmidt, whose firm has since merged with New York City-based Garvey Schubert Barer, moved the class-action complaint into federal court in May 2002. The lawsuit names eight Hispanic agents as plaintiffs who claim they are suing Customs as representatives of a class of more than 400 active and retired agents.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., like the EEO action, alleges that Customs has engaged in a pattern of discrimination against Hispanic agents. That discrimination, which the lawsuit claims dates back to the 1970s, manifests itself in differential treatment as it relates to promotions, transfers and assignments, awards and bonuses, training, and discipline.

“The (lawsuit) further alleges that the Customs Service maintained a hostile work environment, retaliated against agents for asserting their EEO rights and discriminated against them by denying foreign-language pay awards,” states a press release issued by Schmidt.

In addition to back pay and compensatory damages, the Hispanic agents ask the court to grant a permanent injunction requiring Customs to cease and desist “from continuing to engage in the illegal and discriminatory conduct…,” the lawsuit states.

The litigation was still pending in federal court as of early 2004.

Another court filing related to the class-action case illustrates the insidious nature of the alleged racism that the Hispanic agents are seeking to expose. The related filing asserts that Customs was among the three federal law-enforcement agencies that were previously “the subject of congressional hearings in connection with the `Good O’ Boy Roundup,’ and all had agents attending or organizing the event. All (three agencies) have tolerated an atmosphere of discrimination, harassment and retaliation for at least three decades.”

The Good O’ Boy Roundup was an annual party held in the backwoods of Tennessee that was marked by blatant racist activity. The other two agencies involved in the 1995 congressional hearings were the U.S. Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF)—both also part of the Treasury Department at the time.

“On July 11, 1995, a newspaper article appeared on the front page of the Washington Times entitled, Racist ways die hard at Lawmen’s retreat—Annual ‘Good O’ Boy Roundup’ cited as evidence of ‘Klan Attitude’ at BATF,” states a March 2002 court filing by the law firm of Shaffer, Rapaport & Schmidt. “... The article detailed allegations of racist misconduct by personnel of the BATF and other federal law enforcement agencies at an annual retreat outside Ocoee, Tenn.”

The court pleading continues as follows:

“... The tape (of the event) was shocking. It showed a ‘Nigger check point’ sign at which, ostensibly, cars were checked to determine whether blacks were trying to attend the Roundup. Another sign asked, ‘Any niggers in that car?’ There were also Confederate flags posted at the event.

“In his testimony (before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 1995) BATF Director John Magaw … acknowledged that racist activity had taken place at the Roundup every year it occurred since 1985. Director Magaw described to the committee some of the activities at the Roundup, including a skit that was put on in which a person dressed as a Ku Klux Klansman simulated performing sodomy on a person with a blackened face.”

Customs contends the allegations raised in the Hispanic agents’ class-action lawsuit are without merit. The agency asserts that the claims in the complaint are not supported statistically. The federal law-enforcement agency stresses further that Hispanic agents have received the number of promotions to supervisory and management positions that would be expected as part of a race-neutral system.

In a prepared press statement issued May 23, 2002, concerning the class-action case, Customs states the following:

The U.S. Customs Service is proud of its diverse workforce, which includes a significant number of Customs special agents of Hispanic ancestry. The allegations of this lawsuit, that Customs has discriminated against Hispanic Customs agents, are without merit and are not supported by statistical evidence.

... For the past seven years, the U.S. Customs Service has been defending a class-action complaint by plaintiff Miguel Contreras and his attorneys before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This complaint was filed by Agent Contreras on behalf of a class of the agency’s Hispanic special agents. The case was scheduled for a five-week trial before an administrative judge beginning June 10, 2002. In preparation for this trial, the parties were ordered to prepare and submit a statistical analysis supporting their respective cases by May 10, 2002. On that date, instead of filing the report as ordered by the judge, the plaintiff’s attorneys requested dismissal of their case from the EEOC and filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the District of Columbia.

While the U.S. Customs Service supports all employees’ rights to avail themselves of any and all appropriate systems to lodge a complaint or grievance, and takes all allegations of discrimination very seriously, the action to withdraw from the seven-year EEOC proceeding and today’s press conference (announcing that decision), indicate an apparent desire by the plaintiff’s attorneys to try this case in the media, not in the courtrooms.

In the case of Agent Miguel Contreras, according to some Customs observers, the agency appears to have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the price of pursuing such litigation is taken “very seriously”—specifically by other agents seeking to file similar claims in the future.

“Concern over retaliation by Customs has been ongoing for us,” stresses attorney Allison. “Look at what happened to Contreras; his participation (in the class-action case) we believe led to severe disciplinary action. ... The problem is that in (Customs’) offices of Investigation and Internal Affairs, there is a very centralized system of strong managers who promote who they want, and when they don’t like someone, those people suffer, and where they suffer is in the assignments they get.”


By most measures, Agent Miguel Contreras was living out the American dream—until he decided to tangle with the brass at Customs.

Contreras immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was 12. He worked as a laborer in the farm fields of Arizona and California to support himself and later worked his way through college.

After serving as a local police officer in Michigan for several years, Contreras landed a job as a special agent with the U.S. Defense Investigative Service in San Diego. Two years later, in 1983, he became a special agent with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in San Francisco.

Contreras went on to work as a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) before joining the Customs Service in 1988 as a special agent.

Throughout his career, Contreras has been in the thick of dangerous undercover work, a fact that is apparently not unusual for Hispanic Customs agents. The Hispanic agents’ class-action lawsuit filed in May 2002 in Washington, D.C., spells it out this way:

“Hispanic special agents are often assigned to undercover (operations) without proper training or adequate back-up support. The Customs Service subsequently devalues undercover work and Spanish-language-related investigative activities in terms of promotions (and) awards. ... As a result of the Customs Service’s use of such methods of assigning cases, Hispanic special agents are assigned to fewer high-profile cases, receive cases that are not career-enhancing, and are disproportionately tasked to undercover work and other Spanish-language-related duties than are similarly situated white non-Hispanic special agents.”

In addition, the lawsuit claims, Hispanic agents, compared to their fellow Anglo agents, are more likely to be assigned to the Southwest border and Puerto Rico. Hispanic agents also are more likely to be stationed at small offices “and therefore are less likely to receive the diverse work experience necessary for promotion,” the class-action lawsuit alleges.

In Contreras’ case, over the course of his career at Customs, he has been assigned to a number of undercover operations in California and Michigan. One of those operations involved infiltrating a Colombian drug ring in Detroit, which he did successfully, resulting in the arrest and conviction of several individuals on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

However, as appears to be the case for many other Hispanic agents, Contreras’ successful undercover work for Customs came at a steep price for his own career. “The inordinate amount of undercover and Spanish-language-related duties he (Contreras) was assigned adversely affected his opportunity to obtain the diverse experiences necessary for promotion,” the class-action lawsuit alleges.

Despite the obstacles, Agent Contreras continued to work hard and advanced through the ranks at Customs. By 1995, he had been promoted to a field management position: resident agent in charge (RAC) for the El Centro, Calif., Internal Affairs office. That same year he filed his class-action EEO complaint against Customs. From that point on, Contreras’ problems at Customs began to escalate.

Between 1996 to 2002, Contreras applied for 40 higher-level positions, frequently making the best-qualified list for the posts, but was never interviewed for any of the jobs.

“In most cases, white special agents with similar or less experience or qualifications were selected,” states the Hispanic agents’ class-action lawsuit.

After battling Customs for some five years on the EEO front, in 2000 Contreras found himself demoted in rank and stationed at a small Customs office in Yuma, Ariz.

By the spring of 2002, Contreras—then a senior special agent with the Office of Investigation in Yuma—was out of work after being placed on administrative leave.

Contreras points out that he was suspended in the wake of informing his supervisors that he was taking anti-depressant medication. Contreras also had filed a workers’ compensation claim against Customs, alleging that the agency had caused his depression.

Contreras’ supervisors would later claim he was unfit for duty because he was an alcoholic, a charge Contreras contends they trumped up to justify their actions.

As part of the administrative leave, Contreras’ gun, government car, office keys and credentials were taken away from him. Contreras was then ordered to undergo a series of psychiatric examinations. About three months after those examinations were completed, Contreras received a letter from Customs:

“In September 2002, you underwent an agency-directed psychiatric fitness-for-duty examination. The results of the examination indicated that you are not medically fit for full duty as a U.S. Customs Service Criminal Investigator, to include carrying firearms. Agency representatives are currently conducting a job search to determine if there is an appropriate position available within the scope of your medical restrictions….”

The letter also encouraged Contreras to explore disability retirement options.

As of early 2004, Contreras was still battling to overturn Customs’ decision. He points out that his medical doctor and psychologist both gave him the green light to return to work as an agent. In his view, Customs railroaded him to undermine his credibility in the class-action lawsuit.

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was sent to Customs in November 2001 seeking all records maintained by the agency on Contreras since 1994 that are related to “Merit Systems Protection Board, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and whistleblowing activity and proceedings.” More than two years after the request was made, Customs had still not produced any of the records.

However, Richard Anthony, a Customs staffer charged with reviewing documents related to FOIA requests, says there are about eight boxes of material containing some 25,000 pages of documents that are under review in relation to the Contreras FOIA request.

“This certainly is not normal,” Anthony says.

The trail of alleged retaliation against Contreras between 1995 and 2002 is marked by numerous career-threatening actions taken by Customs.

The Hispanic agents’ class-action lawsuit sheds some light on the agency’s treatment of Contreras:

  • “In July 1998, Agent Contreras was investigated for theft of government property and unauthorized use of government property when he and another Hispanic special agent posted a message in TECS (the Treasury Enforcement Communications System) regarding his class action complaint.”

  • “In October 1999, Special Agent Contreras was served with a letter of removal for allegedly divulging confidential information to his secretary regarding her son’s involvement in drug activities. Agent Contreras had received information that the woman’s son was going to be killed by members of a drug organization. Agent Contreras appealed this action to the Merit Systems Protection Board (or MSPB, which hears and decides appeals of personnel actions taken against federal employees).”

  • “In June 2000, Agent Contreras settled his MSPB appeal by agreeing to accept a reduction in grade (rank) to GS-13 in exchange for all pending charges being expunged from his personnel file. During negotiations, Customs attorney Dylan Medina suggested that Contreras could obtain better terms if he would dismiss his class-action suit. Contreras refused to compromise the interests of the class.”

  • “In 2000, Special Agent Contreras also was investigated by the Department of Treasury’s Inspector General because his cousin was married to an alleged drug smuggler. His last contact with the cousin was at a family funeral in 1995.”

  • “In 2002, the acting SAIC (special agent in charge in Arizona) served Special Agent Contreras with a ‘Letter of Caution’ because Contreras granted an interview to the Hispanic newspaper, ‘Bajo El Sol,’ for an article dealing with his rise from migrant farm worker to customs special agent criminal investigator. In the article, Contreras advised young people to ‘stay away from drugs and violence, and to try and find ways to succeed and be happy through formal education.’”

Contreras is not the only agent participating in the class-action lawsuit against Customs who has been the victim of alleged retaliation by the agency. Ruben Gonzalez, associate special agent in charge (ASAIC) of Customs’ Houston Office of Investigations, also paid a price for testifying in the spring of 2002 in an EEO deposition in Washington, D.C., regarding discrimination against Hispanic agents.

“When (Gonzalez) returned to the Houston, Texas, Office of Investigations where he serves as the GS-15 ASAIC, Gonzalez discovered that he had been replaced and that a GS-14 special agent had been put in an acting position as the ASAIC,” states the Hispanic agents’ class-action lawsuit. “Special Agent Gonzalez … was told that a GS-14 was put in charge because the special agent in charge did not know when Gonzalez would return from Washington. This action was retaliatory…. Agent Gonzalez’s secretary knew his itinerary and he could easily have been reached by cell phone.”

The Houston incident was far from the first time Gonzalez had run into career setbacks at Customs. From 1994 to 2001, Gonzalez applied for more than 34 GS-15 and Senior Executive Service (SES) positions. He made the “best-qualified” list for every GS-15 post he sought, “yet he was never interviewed for any of them,” according to the class-action lawsuit. When he finally did receive a promotion, he was forced to move his family from the East Coast to Houston.

The treatment dished out to agents Contreras and Gonzalez stands in sharp contrast to the treatment of Customs employees like the supervisor in Laredo who was accused of falsifying drug-bust records; or Sean Mulkearns, the author of the so-called “racist manifesto” directed at Hispanic agents in the El Paso Customs Office of Internal Affairs. Sources within the agency also point to another egregious example of disparate treatment with respect to disciplinary action. The case involves a supervisory special agent in Customs’ Office of Investigation.

An agent under the supervisor became suspicious of the supervisor’s use of a computer in the office dedicated to conducting child-pornography investigations. After compiling substantial evidence that the supervisor was likely using Customs equipment to view pornography, the special agent sent a letter in August 2000 to Customs Office of Internal Affairs to report the supervisor’s activities.

The end result, according to sources, is that the supervisor received a two-week suspension. The letter sent by the agent is reprinted below. Names and locations have been removed to protect the identities of the parties involved.

Internal memo
DATE: August 22, 2000
TO: U.S. Customs Service, Office of Internal Affairs
SUBJECT: Inappropriate use of U.S. Customs Service equipment

I feel that it is my responsibility to report something that has been occurring in the … office of the U.S. Customs Service, Office of Investigations, for an extended period of time. I am not making this report due to any personal dislike or bad feelings against the individual involved. On the contrary, I think of the individual as a friend, but I feel that certain things that he has been doing need to be reported. To follow is, to the best of my knowledge, a chronological course of events that I have witnessed. Please understand that some of the dates are approximations since I am only now thinking back on them, having failed to see their true importance at the time that they occurred.

On Aug. 1, 1998, I transferred to the … office from the … office of the U.S. Customs Service, Office of Investigations. After working in the office for a few months, I began to notice that Supervisory Resident Agent (SRA) AA would frequently work at a computer maintained in a common area of the office. Initially, I didn’t think that it was unusual for SRA AA to work on that specific computer since it was a “stand-alone” (not connected to the Treasury Enforcement Communications System) computer used by the whole office to do miscellaneous work. I first began to notice that every time that SRA AA used the computer, he turned the computer monitor screen at an angle so that people passing by could not readily see what he was doing on the computer. I then remembered that the computer had Internet access for utilization in a child pornography Internet operation that Senior Special Agent (SS/A) BB was actively working. I began to wonder if SRA AA was using the computer to access the Internet….

Shortly after developing my suspicions, in approximately November 1998 to January 1999, I noticed SRA AA once again using (the stand-alone) computer with the screen turned at an angle. After SRA AA finished using the computer, I opened the computer’s Netscape Internet browser program. I checked the browser history and found that Internet pornography sites had been accessed during the time that SRA AA was sitting at the computer. I then checked the browser history again after approximately two more times when SRA AA was utilizing the computer and found the same results. SRA AA utilized the (stand-alone) computer in the above described manner on a regular basis so there was not a long time between developing my suspicions and confirming them.

Initially, after my discovery, I thought that maybe SRA AA was assisting SS/A BB with his child pornography Internet operation. In approximately January 1999, I told SS/A BB what I had recently discovered and asked him if SRA AA was assisting him with his operation. SS/A BB advised me that SRA AA was not assisting him with his operation and that he too had previously made the same discovery as I. SS/A BB stated that he discovered that SRA AA was accessing Internet pornography as early as nearly the beginning of when the office first got Internet access. According to SS/A BB, SRA AA was utilizing both (the stand-alone) computer as well as the … computer in SS/A BB’s office to access Internet pornography sites. SS/A BB advised me that for a long time he had been concerned that SRA AA’s actions would jeopardize his child pornography Internet operation. SS/A BB also advised me that he was concerned that if it was ever discovered that someone was accessing Internet pornography on (an office) computer that he would be the one blamed. SS/A BB stated that he had been accumulating evidence of SRA AA’s actions so as to protect himself from such blame. SS/A BB explained that he could prove that he was not the one accessing the pornography because he had browser log records (cache records) that he had maintained showing that the Internet sites were accessed from his computer on days that he was on annual leave or out of the office.

From approximately January 1999 to the summer of 1999, I noticed, on a regular basis—approximately every few days—SRA AA utilizing (the stand-alone) computer with the monitor turned at an angle. I also noticed, on a less frequent basis, SRA AA utilizing SS/A BB’s (office) computer in the same manner. I occasionally checked the Internet browser history for the times that SRA AA was at (the stand-alone) computer and confirmed that Internet pornography sites had been accessed.

In the summer of 1999, the … office received two new lap-top computers. SRA AA took one of the lap-top computers and hooked it up to the Internet in his office. Since then, I have noticed, on an almost daily basis, SRA AA utilizing the lap-top computer in his office with the screen turned away from the door. I have not confirmed that SRA AA has utilized the lap-top computer in his office to access Internet pornography sites, though it is my suspicion that that is what he is doing when he has the screen turned away from the door.

From approximately the summer of 1999 to May 2000, I continued to observe SRA AA utilizing (the stand-alone computer) and SS/A BB’s computer, as well as the lap-top computer. In the same manner as described above, SS/A BB advised me on several occasions that he had confirmed that SRA AA was continuing to access Internet pornography sites on his computer when he was on annual leave or out of the office. SS/A BB also noticed that, after using his or (the stand-alone) computer, SRA AA had started attempting to erase the cache records. According to SS/A BB, SRA AA had also changed the Netscape browser history retention date from thirty (30) days to one (1) day.

On May 9, 2000, while in … to effect an arrest warrant, SS/A BB, SS/A CC, and myself, were discussing events in (our) office. SS/A CC had worked in the same office as SS/A BB and SRA AA prior to transferring to a different office. SS/A BB mentioned to SS/A CC that SRA AA regularly accesses Internet pornography sites on the (office) computers. SS/A CC advised SS/A BB that he already knew that SRA AA did that kind of stuff; that he was doing it when SS/A CC was working in (the office). According to SS/A CC, Special Agent (S/A) DD was also aware of SRA AA’s Internet activities.

On May 10, 2000, after learning that SS/A CC and S/A DD had known about SRA AA accessing Internet pornography sites on the Internet for years, I discussed with SS/A BB and S/A EE the need to advise the Office of Internal Affairs about SRA AA’s activities. SS/A BB and S/A EE both agreed that something needed to be done because the problem seemed to be getting worse.

On July 6, 2000, I learned that SS/A BB was resigning his position as senior special agent with the U.S. Customs Service in order to enter into private business.

On July 7, 2000, SS/A BB, S/A EE, and myself again discussed the need to report SRA AA’s activities to the office of Internal Affairs. SS/A BB advised that for some time he had also noticed something else that he considered to be unusual. SS/A BB explained that he had noticed that oftentimes when he would come into work on a Monday morning, the conference room chairs and television would be arranged differently than when he left on the previous Friday evening, even though he was the last one to leave the office on Friday. According to SS/A BB, on those suspect Monday mornings, a chair would be pulled up in front of the television/VCR and the conference room blinds would be closed.

On July 10, 2000, SS/A BB advised me that, being the last person out of the office on the previous Friday night, he made sure to notice that the conference room shades were open and that the chairs were pushed up to the table. On that morning (Monday), when he came in to work, he noticed that the conference room shades were closed and that a chair was pulled up in front of the television/VCR. Later that day, while cleaning out his office, SS/A BB found a mail-order pornographic video tape placed on a shelf in a dresser in his office, within easy reach of the conference room. SS/A BB stated that he had never seen the pornographic tape before and was sure that it was not any type of evidence belonging to any case he had or was currently working. SS/A BB believed that someone had been coming into the office during the weekends and viewing this and possibly other pornographic video tapes in the conference room.

On July 20, 2000, after having been told that on the previous day SRA AA had spent a lot of time on (the stand-alone) computer with the monitor turned at an angle, I checked the Internet cache record and found that several pornographic Internet sites had been visited on the previous day. I copied the cache to a floppy disk for future reference.

On July 21, 2000, SS/A BB provided to me a plastic bag filled with computer floppy disks containing cache records, as well as print-outs of cache records and pornographic images accessed on the Internet from his and (the stand-alone) computer. The records span a time frame of early 1998 to present (August 2000).

On July 25, 2000, and July 26, 2000, after SS/A BB’s last day at (the office), SRA AA destroyed a large amount of pornographic video tapes, computer disks and pictures that had been maintained by SS/A BB as part of his child pornography operation. Since that date, I have not witnessed any incidents in which SRA AA has accessed pornography on the Internet.

I realize that my observations, as outlined above, should be verified by someone other than myself. I am in possession of the above-mentioned documentation that was provided to me by SS/A BB, and I am confident that you will find that it supports my allegations. I am of course concerned about maintaining anonymity, especially since the individual against whom I am making these allegations is my direct supervisor. I therefore ask, if at all possible, to please keep my identity and this document as confidential as possible.


Next in Chapter 6:

A Customs agent in Houston is put on the fast-track promotion path. His climb up the agency ladder occurs despite his past record of being the primary target of an Internal Affairs corruption probe in the 1990s and later being part of a bungled sting operation that cost the government some $600,000.

Read the rest of Bill Conroy’s Borderline Security:


Chapter 1 – Investigation Derailed

Chapter 2 – The Belly of the Snake

Chapter 3 – Shooting the Messenger

Chapter 4 – “The Racist Manifesto”

Chapter 5 – The Hydra

Chapter 6 – Green Quest

Chapter 7 – Quid Pro Quo

Chapter 8 – Reckless Driving

Chapter 9 – Firestorm

Chapter 10 – Swept Under the Rug

Chapter 11 – Politically Connected

Chapter 12 – From the DEA to “Homeland Security”

Chapter 13 – Airline Passengers At Risk from DEA Drug Sting Shipments

Chapter 14 – The Dysfunctional Anti-Drug Agencies

Epilogue – At the Threshold of Conscience

Bill Conroy has worked as a reporter or editor for the past eighteen years at newspapers in Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota and Texas. His investigative reporting over the past five years has focused on corruption and discrimination within federal law enforcement agencies.

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