Border Patrol has particular, secretive items that work to cowl up any wrongdoing when brokers kill somebody or in any other case use drive in doubtlessly problematic methods, in response to a letter despatched to Congress Thursday calling for an investigation.
These “shadow police items,” the letter says, have been working since at the very least 1987 and with none precise authority beneath federal regulation. They don’t seem in Division of Homeland Safety paperwork as official entities.
The letter, written by the Southern Border Communities Coalition and Alliance San Diego, condemns the usage of these items, which documentation reveals have totally different names relying on their location, and means that the brokers who labored for them might even be charged criminally with obstruction of justice.
The items “have allowed border brokers to get away with practically all the pieces, together with homicide,” the letter says. It was despatched to leaders of Senate and Home judiciary, homeland safety and oversight committees.
There are three entities with authority from Congress to carry out prison investigations. They’re the FBI, the DHS Workplace of the Inspector Basic and the Customs and Border Safety Workplace of Skilled Duty. These Border Patrol items should not amongst them.
“Their acknowledged mission is to mitigate legal responsibility for brokers,” mentioned Andrea Guerrero, govt director of Alliance San Diego, quoting from a presentation created by San Diego’s Border Patrol unit and obtained by a journalist, John Carlos Frey. “In different phrases, their mission is defend brokers, not the general public.”
When requested in regards to the items, a spokesperson with Customs and Border Safety who declined to be named on the file mentioned that the company has a “multi-tiered oversight framework in place to deal with allegations of misconduct involving company personnel.”
“The U.S. Border Patrol maintains groups with specialised proof assortment capabilities throughout the southwest border,” the unnamed spokesperson mentioned. “These groups include extremely skilled personnel accessible to reply across the clock to gather and course of proof associated to CBP enforcement actions in addition to crucial incidents. Within the case of significant incidents involving CBP personnel, members of those groups are typically referred to as upon to help investigators from CBP OPR and different native, state, and federal regulation enforcement businesses. This can be a vitally vital functionality as many crucial incidents involving CBP operations happen in distant places the place different businesses could also be unwilling or unable to reply.”
The letter to Congress is the product of months of analysis and evaluation, Guerrero mentioned, and wouldn’t have occurred with out info that surfaced in a San Diego case.
She and different human rights attorneys investigating the 2010 killing of Anastasio Hernández Rojas on the San Ysidro Port of Entry discovered indications that the unit primarily based in San Diego had tampered with and even destroyed proof within the case to guard the brokers concerned. Then they started discovering documentation of different instances wherein related items had interfered in different areas.
“This isn’t an remoted incident of dangerous actors within the case of Anastasio,” Guerrero mentioned. “This can be a systemic impunity drawback that reveals us that the impunity will not be unintended. It’s by design.”
Guerrero and her staff discovered that the San Diego unit, referred to as the sector’s Crucial Incident Investigative Staff, was the primary to be notified after Hernández Rojas was beaten and tasered on the ground on the port of entry. The unit by no means notified San Diego police, who would have had jurisdiction over the prison investigation. The native division discovered in regards to the incident after a media inquiry and arrived on scene a day later.
The Crucial Incident Investigative Staff managed witness lists and have been current at each interview through the San Diego police investigation, the letter says, and the staff eliminated phrasing within the apprehension report for Hernández Rojas that mentioned he was compliant earlier than handing the report back to San Diego police.
The Crucial Incident Investigative Staff was additionally current on the hospital quickly after Hernández Rojas arrived and requested medical employees to attract his blood to check for medicine. Hospital data obtained by Guerrero’s staff present that the blood was drawn however there have been no outcomes. The one blood check with leads to his medical file signifies that there have been no medicine detected. Nevertheless, the letter says, the medical expert within the case used a unique blood pattern — that had no chain of custody info — to find out that Hernández Rojas had meth in his physique.
“It was this dedication that led the Justice Division to say no to prosecute for homicide,” the letter says. “This raises severe questions on [the unit’s] interference.”
These revelations are along with what Guerrero and staff already published as a part of their case with the Inter-American Fee on Human Rights — together with that the Crucial Incident Investigative Staff illegally gave the hospital a subpoena for Hernández Rojas’ medical data after which refused to supply them to investigating police, and that the staff despatched the incorrect video footage to investigators, permitting time for the precise recordings of the incident to be erased.
Former excessive stage CBP officers who labored in inner affairs, one of many entities licensed to research brokers, have acknowledged and condemned the existence of those items.
“The aim of an investigation is to gather the information, no matter whether or not they’re exculpatory or not,” the letter says in quoting James Wong, former CBP deputy assistant commissioner for inner affairs. “Investigators ought to by no means got down to mitigate legal responsibility. That’s inappropriate. On condition that [the units] have labored to mitigate as an alternative of gather information resulting in the reality reveals that they’re a questionable administration instrument, not a official investigative instrument. As such they need to be abolished.”
The letter identifies a number of different instances wherein such items have had entry to and probably tampered with proof.
Within the trial over the demise of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, an adolescent who was standing in Mexico when he was shot by an agent — one of many solely situations wherein a Border Patrol agent was charged in a killing — the courtroom realized that the native Crucial Incident Staff had collected all the proof for the FBI.
“The Crucial Incident Staff, principally we went out and did a third-party investigation for the Border Patrol,” an investigator with the native Crucial Incident Staff defined to the court docket. “We investigated and picked up forensic knowledge with regard to shootings, makes use of of drive incidents, collisions, issues like that. Something that the Border Patrol deemed to be crucial and there may be some media consideration or any individual was damage, injured, or killed.”
The particular unit, in response to the letter, additionally formed the investigation into the demise of Marisol Garcia Alcantara, whom a Border Patrol agent shot within the head whereas she was sitting within the backseat of a automobile. She survived the capturing however nonetheless has bullet fragments in her cranium.
In line with a Nogales police incident report, the responding native police principally directed site visitors whereas the particular Border Patrol unit and the FBI investigated. It’s not clear which of the 2 entities gathered the proof in that case.
Guerrero and her staff additionally discovered that the Border Patrol considers participation in these sorts of items when selling brokers to supervisor positions. Which means, Guerrero mentioned, that lots of the folks greater up within the Border Patrol ranks probably labored on the items.