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U.S. Border Agency Says Hundreds of Employees Have Been Arrested Over 2 Years

More than 500 employees of the United States’ primary border security agency were charged with drug trafficking, accepting bribes and a range of other crimes over a two-year period, according to reports released on Friday.

The reports, released by Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Human Resource Management and its Office of Professional Responsibility, covered the years 2016 and 2017.

The most common arrests were related to misconduct involving drugs or alcohol; the reports concluded that 109 employees faced those kinds of charges in 2016, and 119 in 2017.

Domestic or family misconduct was the second most common reason for the arrest of the border agency employees — 51 in 2017, up from 44 the previous year, the data show.

Customs and Border Protection has a budget of over $15 billion and is the parent agency of the Border Patrol. It employs more than 60,000 people, making it the largest single law enforcement agency in the United States.

Agency officials said the release of the annual reports underscores the agency’s commitment to transparency and swift actions to weed out employees who violate the law or internal policies. They also said the reports show that a majority of employees carry out their duties without getting into trouble.

“We are talking about a fraction of the organization,” said Matthew Klein, assistant commissioner for the Office of Professional Responsibility.

Customs and Border Protection has been accused of using excessive force against migrants. In 2017, the reports showed, the agency opened 252 cases involving use of force by border agents, down from 338 in 2016.

Twelve excessive force cases in 2017 resulted in the serious injury or the death of an individual, down from 23 in 2016, the data showed.

The reports follow several high-profile acts of violence this year by Border Patrol agents around Laredo, Tex., focusing national attention on the agency.

Last month, an agent who had worked at the Border Patrol for 10 years was charged with killing four women and assaulting a fifth over a two-week period. The agent, Juan David Ortiz, 35, was arrested after fleeing Texas state troopers who had confronted him at a gas station; he was found hiding in a hotel parking garage off an interstate.

In May, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed Claudia Patricia Gómez González, a 19-year-old Guatemalan woman who had crossed the border illegally near Laredo. Authorities said the agent had been searching for illegal activity in a residential area when he was attacked with blunt objects by a group of people that included Ms. Gómez.

One resident who witnessed the shooting disputed the officials’ account, including details about where it took place and whether the group used weapons.

Both of those cases occurred in 2018 and were not included in the reports released on Friday.

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