By Samuel Paramore
Extortioners? Con Men? Wannabe Gangsters?
All are seemingly appropriate labels to stick to undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents following the revelations of a 227-page manual that Unicorn Riot, an alternative media outlet, published online. The Undercover Operations Handbook, reportedly having been current from 2008 up until 2016, shows an agency given broad authority to engage in “otherwise illegal activity” such money laundering, bribery, drug dealing, and human trafficking.
What’s truly revealing is that the leaked documents gave all the resources and directions needed to engage in such controversial tactics, all tied up in the bureaucratic language of “proprieties,” “proceeds,” and “inducements.”
Still think “Abolish ICE” is just a slogan for the fringes?
Unicorn Riot, which has their own, more in-depth write up and PDFs of the manual, points out that agents have been afforded these dubious methods to ensnare people into the deportation machine. The manual gives instructions on how to get past entrapment by properly navigating the safer terrain of “inducement.” This concerns using “persuasion” and “mild coercion” in order to get people under investigation to commit illegal activities on the expectation that evidence of other crimes will unearthed by that. Entrapment, a legal defense against alleged crimes, is to be avoided at all costs.
The leaked manual that covered both of Barack Obama’s two presidential terms also shows that agents were able to utilize fake identities and buffer them with forged social security numbers, pilot’s licenses, and U.S Coast Guard certificates. Undercover agents could present themselves as attorneys, clergy or even therapists! With regards to shell companies agents were allowed to set up, “proceeds” from them could be used to buy evidence. The money made from such undercover businesses can also be deposited to the agency, or cut across multiple agencies of their choice.
The depth of irony is unmatched considering how ICE constantly publishes news releases about cleaning up communities from similar criminal exploits on their website.
Now, when news breaks about an ICE officer caught robbing drug dealers for their money, like agent Valentino Johnson in 2009, or when they’re sued for shutting down a nightclub to benefit another night club paying them off, such as what agent Joohoon David Lee did to Club Sonagi with accusations of human trafficking, ICE will swat it away with the “few bad apples” refrain.
But the agency set up less-than-ethical guidelines for special agents out in the field by allowing them to break laws for law enforcement purposes. And does anyone really think the Trump Administration has tightened things up over at ICE? Banishing a few bad apples does nothing when the barrel is made of rotting wood.