Mexican government fires every customs officer

What do you mean – no badges, no jobs, no corruption?

More than 700 customs officers at airports and land crossings have been replaced in Mexico in a crackdown on corrupt agents who allow drugs and weapons to flow across the country’s borders, a spokesman for the customs service said yesterday..

Reforma newspaper had reported earlier that the contracts of 1,100 agents were allowed to expire on Saturday as part of a plan to modernise the customs service, according to tax and customs sources.

A new force of 1,470 agents is being sworn in to replace the former workers. Soldiers took control of at least one border crossing at Ciudad Juárez, across from Texas, to assist with the transition.

Pedro Canabal, a spokesman for the tax administration service, said the agency had decided not to rehire the officers when their contracts expired. They were replaced by agents who had undergone months of training and background checks to ensure they had no criminal records. “This change is part of our response to new demands in the fight against contraband,” he said.

Some of the former customs workers will be permitted to reapply for their jobs in the new service, but details on the alleged criminal ties of many former employees are being turned over to federal prosecutors.

Now that they’ve fired all of them, the winnowing procedure begins to see who should also be arrested and charged with fronting for the drug gangs.

Mexico hasn’t exactly been operating with the world’s highest standards for civil servants.

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