Experts Explain Temptations Law Enforcement Face
WESLACO – Some Rio Grande Valley public servants sworn to protect people are reportedly turning a blind eye on their oath to serve their community honorably.
Intelligence experts said it’s an issue that may continue to plague, not only the Valley, but law enforcement across the Texas-Mexico border.
For 32 years Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez has worn a badge.
“We know it’s going to happen it’s just a matter of when it’s going to happen,” he said.
Martinez said temptation to cross the line shadows border law enforcement every time they put on their uniform.
“You’re constantly in the element because that’s what we do. Law enforcement they go in to the element they don’t walk away from it,” he said.
Just this week, a jury convicted former Border Patrol agent Joel Luna for engaging in criminal activity. He joins a list of other law enforcement officers who found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
“U.S. Border Patrol just happens to be involved in this case, but if you look at the entire law enforcement community from El Paso to Laredo, what you’ll see is that no entity has gone untouched by these kinds of phenomena,” Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence with Austin-based global intelligence agency Stratfor, said.
He said he once donned a badge. “We have found the enemy and they are us,” he added.
Burton said law enforcement has a new enemy.
“In order for U.S. law enforcement to get a handle on cartel smuggling, cartel intelligence, they first have to get a handle on the scope of corruption,” he explained.
Burton said border law enforcement is more prone than others across the nation of turning their backs on the badge. He believes a lack of continued vetting may be to blame.
“Meaning there’s tremendous amount of screening that’s done during the initial hire but then very little screening is done after that hire,” he said.
Martinez believes it also could be fear. Two of his deputies, who call the Valley home, remain on alert two months after having their lives were threatened by a hitman in Mexico.
“We really couldn’t confirm or validate that particular threat,” he said.
The threat remains unfounded but the vigilance remains.
Different views on why border law enforcement officers turn on the badge are explained, Stratfor and Martinez do agree on one thing.
“The challenge is this – who watches the watchers,” Burton said.
“That’s always been my rule of thumb when you police each other,” Martinez said.