Skip to comments.Ex-Customs boss gets 24 years
Posted on 02/05/2006 7:34:45 PM PST by Coleus
A former U.S. Customs supervisor, who authorities say helped smuggle tens of thousands of kilos of cocaine through Newark's seaport and airport, was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison yesterday in a drug case the judge called the worst he has ever seen involving a government official.
In imposing sentence on Jorge Reyeros, U.S. District Judge William Bassler said anyone who misuses their office "in such a heinous way has to suffer the consequences."
Bassler, sitting in Newark, also sentenced Reyeros' older brother, Juan, to nearly 19 years in prison for helping in the crime.
While a federal jury specifically found the men guilty last January of a 1999 conspiracy to bring more than 150 kilograms of cocaine into the country at Port Elizabeth, prosecutors said they were also responsible for allowing tens of thousands of kilos of cocaine into the country in the mid-1990s.
In brief remarks to the judge before he was sentenced, Jorge Reyeros declared flatly, "I'm innocent." Bassler rejected that declaration as "nonsense." "Jorge Reyeros is not an innocent man," the judge said. "Unfortunately, Jorge Reyeros is a criminal." Bassler said he has "never been faced with a conspiracy involving a government official that approached" this case. The brothers immigrated to the United States from Colombia and are naturalized U.S. citizens, officials said.
Jorge Reyeros, 54, spent more than 20 years with U.S. Customs, working his way up to supervisor with duties at the seaport and Newark Liberty International Airport. Since arriving from Colombia in 1970, he had lived an immigrant's dream: He became a citizen, got married and had three children, purchased homes in Queens and Miami and attained a top job with U.S. Customs.
Juan Reyeros, 56, had maintained a home in Miami, but also spent time in Colombia, authorities said.
(Excerpt) Read more at nj.com ...
Since arriving from Colombia
This has to be compared with non-government-agents getting 99 years for possessing a few ounces of coke as a first offense. It's enough for "possession with intent to distribute" and that's enough for 99 years. But then again, there is one set of standards for Lords and another for peasants.
Reminds me of the oh-so-cloying public service propaganda spots,
"This is a reminder that our strength, our success, comes from our diversity."
Ummm, yeah. Diversity. That's the ticket.
I say hang him.
I was one of Reyeros' "Buckstop" Team Senior Inspectors at Newark Airport, NJ, 1995-1996 and 1997. I went to senior management (our Chief Inspector, GM-14), Internal Affairs, and finally, Treasury IG, from April/May 1996, then in November, 1996, and again in September, 1997, and finally in March, 1998, when he personally screwed up a seven pound (7+) heroin seizure "controlled delivery" I was setting up. He actually assaulted and threatened the pax / "mule"- a colombian female nurse, stopped by my brand new trainee... I was running "the floor" as the Lead Senior Customs Inspector, in the Arrival Hall. The "mule" said he was "El Diablo", and begged me over and over, "help me". My spanish is horrible. I could only pick some of it up. He kept ALL spanish speaking officers away for over an hour and a half, and told the Customs Special Agents she had "lawyered up", so they didn't go looking for a translator until I finally could bring her to their office, then after a call to an Asst US Attorney- far too late by then. I even called a spanish officer in MY office from the agents' office. Reyeros anticipated this, and went in there and hung up her phone. The nurse was willing to cooperate in a delivery, she got my "20 years" in spanish, and pointing at the Agents' cell block, while holding up the heroin in my other hand, but I just couldn't understand her. Her "controller" and driver had been right outside...
Also, when he was working "OT" on the inbound side of passenger processing, like the case above, he refused to let us take "internals"- drug swallowers- to the hospital for x-rays. i can remember only once- and that passenger, venezuela via aruba- already admitted he swallowed heroin- that he let us take someone, out of over one hundred requests. My personal seizure count of "positive" drug results taking drug swallowers to the hospital was about 75%, way over average... I was ignored, except for then being "written up", for the first time as a federal officer, after eleven years + of service. I had been an Inspectional/ Customs "expert" on cases before for "IA"- bribery, trade / fraud, smuggling, employee involved, etc. I can only assume someone over him in management was making some serious extra money... or was completely, totally, monumentally incompetent. The signs were ALL there- flashy purchases, always extra cash, altered / faked computer / paper search records, his order on my 1st day "What happens on buckstop stays on buckstop", absolute refusal to search our clearest target flight, direct to CALI, Colombia, etc.
I was forced into early physical disability retirement, 09/11/1999- only slightly ironic. All this time, he was (now convicted,2005, in federal court) bringing in "tens of thousands" of pounds of cocaine-per his federal trial judge- through the Port of Newark/NYC. This was after repeated
"disciplinary charges"- all later "sanitized" from my OPF (personnel file), along with all except ONE of my awards, an "attaboy" from G.H.W. Bush (#41)- I guess someone was afraid there was a record of that one. The incompetent who stripped my "OPF" / file forgot to take the "SF-50" forms for the numerous monetary awards, though.
Jorge Reyeros was kept in place for seven years, (normal
"sensitive" job rotation is three +/- years for his level) and took strenuous efforts to keep us from searching
"Avianca" and other Colombia linked flights, like 88 out of 90 days, summer, 1997. I mentioned this on 9/15/1997 to the Chief Inspector, who immediately informed Reyeros. His retort at our "meeting", after yelling in spanish, was:
"All you want to do is pick on my people!" Jorge is, of course, a Colombian-American, apparently with loyalty and identity "issues". This Chief Inspector (who is now an even more Senior Manager in CBP at another major Eastern Port) had already referred to me as a "disloyal C***S***". Corrupt? Arrogant? Incompetent? These are not very good potential choices.
Reyeros was transferred by the Area Director to the Customs Seaport Narcotics Team - (CET!!!), after a little "error" involving strip searching two elderly people connected through their daughter to a U.S. Senator, and altering the search records about it. About eight months after I was "retired", IA finally came to interview me- someone from
"another agency" caught him by accident, 1999- I was later told, by a telephone intercept- two Colombians discussing the Customs Manager they "OWNED" at Newark International Airport, NJ. This went on for years, at least 1995-2000. The first thing I told IA, after two of them went over my statement, was that they needed to audit/"CIVA" him. After his arrest and indictment in july, 2000, i was called back in to be given my "encased" retirement badge and my retired Customs credentials. I guess that was "gee,so sorry", huh?
Does anyone at the senior levels of the American government really care about border security? Honest "Whistleblowers" get forced out. Criminals who are also managers or favored employees are routinely ("apparently", for legal purposes) covered for or protected in this agency- Customs, now Customs & Border Protection. It is only one small step from passing drugs and money in return for bribes to letting in terrorists, or WMD, like a nice big bomb(?), for money. I guess I have a simple, perhaps old-fashioned philosophy: 1) it was never my money or drugs, it was contraband, and it therefore belonged to the government, and 2) if you protect or cover for a criminal, then you are a criminal, too.
Oh, and by the way- like most "whistleblowers", I am now virtually unemployable. If one of my parents did not leave me a house and some money, I would be living in my truck. I have been told, AFTER THE FACT, that this is common in Customs- the protection of corruption, the usual cover up, the fake disciplinary charges to discredit the honest, frustrated whistleblower, even an approach to me to ask me to request psychiatric "help" (and nothing else would be done to me), by another Customs manager who has since been fired after HER felony conviction in an unrelated case. Then there are veiled/not so veiled threats, etc. They tell you, repeatedly, from the Academy onward (where I was Honor Graduate, before I came home and became one of the better drug and money seizure guys), to turn in people that you seriously suspect of criminal acts/ corruption. yea, right.
I went to several congressional offices. Only Senator Charles Grassley's office expressed any "concern", but his staffer told me they got so many whistleblowers coming to that Senator, because he had a good, honest "rep" in the area, that they were completely overwhelmed. There is that much corruption, and that much retaliation. Didn't anyone learn anything from alcohol Prohibition? Sorry this is so long, but it is for the edification of people trying to learn, from someone who was actually involved in one of the more than twenty customs corruption cases i pulled up today with one simple query. This is what is going on in part of our government. I am told there are 35-40 MAJOR corruption cases each year in Customs/CBP alone. this is a PROBLEM, folks. something must be done, but who will do it?
Quo ipsos custodiet custodes? jbc