Monday, December 18, 2006

Another Cocaine Scandal Involving Military Personnel

The headline story over the weekend in southern Arizona:
A Midtown strip mall that should have housed the best of the best served as Corruption Central in Tucson.

Two military recruiting stations sit side-by-side there, one run by the Army, the other by the Marines. Between them, a total of seven recruiters were on the take, secretly accepting bribes to transport cocaine, even as most spent their days visiting local high schools.

They had help from several more recruiters at an Army National Guard office, where one recruiter was said to be selling cocaine from the trunk of his recruiting vehicle.

Together, these dozen or so recruiters formed the nucleus of one of the FBI's biggest public corruption cases, the sting known as Operation Lively Green, which unfolded in Southern Arizona from 2002-2004 and was made public last year.

Many of the drug-running recruiters remained on the job, with continued access to local schools, for months — and often, years — after FBI agents secretly filmed them counting cash next to stacks of cocaine bricks, the Arizona Daily Star found in a months-long probe of court records and military employment data.
This struck a memory cord in me so I went digging through some old diaries I wrote early in 2005 and, sure enough, I found the news article where a similar cocaine operation was uncovered in this region - coordinated between the Border Patrol, National Guard and other law-enforcement agencies
Sixteen current and former U.S. soldiers and law enforcement officers have agreed to plead guilty to taking $222,000 in bribes from FBI agents posing as drug traffickers to help deliver cocaine shipments through government checkpoints along the Arizona-Mexico border, authorities said Thursday.

The defendants included a former Immigration and Naturalization Service inspector, a former Army sergeant, a Nogales, Ariz., police officer, a former federal prison guard, several Arizona state prison guards, and current and former Arizona National Guard soldiers. They escorted at least two drug shipments to Phoenix, Las Vegas and other southwestern destinations. When confronted by state and federal authorities, they flashed their government badges to keep the vehicles from being searched, Justice Department officials said in announcing the charges.

I think that old adage about getting your own house in order before condemning your neighbors
applies here. Dont'cha think?

[UPDATE] This is more fallout from the same scandal that was reported last year, not a new one altogether. Either way, it's disgusting.

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