USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1997 - March 31, 1998

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Office of the Inspector General

OIG Profile

By Act of Congress, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was established in the Department of Justice (Department) on April 14, 1989. The OIG investigates alleged violations of criminal and civil laws, regulations, and ethical standards arising from the conduct of the Department's employees in its numerous and diverse activities. The OIG provides leadership and assists management in promoting integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness within the Department and in its financial, contractual, and grant relationships with others. Also by statute, the OIG reports to the Attorney General, Congress, and the public on a semiannual basis regarding the significant work of the office. Many of our reports are available on the OIG's Website at the following Internet address: <>.

The OIG carries out its mission with a workforce of approximately 480 special agents, auditors, inspectors, and support staff.

The special agents are assigned to offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Dallas, El Centro, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, McAllen, Miami, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Tucson.

The auditors are located in offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

Other OIG components -- the Inspections Division, the Special Investigations and Review Unit, the Management and Planning Division, the Office of General Counsel, and the Inspector General's immediate office -- are located in Washington, D.C.

The OIG's Fiscal Year (FY) 1998 direct appropriation is $33,211,000. The OIG also expects reimbursement from (1) the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for $5.0 million for audit, inspections, and investigative oversight work related to INS fee accounts; (2) the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees for $1.4 million for trustee audits; (3) the Working Capital Fund and other Department components for $7.5 million for costs incurred to comply with the statutory requirements of the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 and the Government Management Reform Act of 1994 to complete a consolidated Department financial statement audit in FY 1998; (4) INS for $3.7 million to cover the cost of a congressionally mandated investigation into Citizenship U.S.A. allegations; and (5) the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund (VCRTF) for $3.8 million for oversight of law enforcement grant programs funded through VCRTF.

USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1997 - March 31, 1998

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Special Inquiries

Several OIG investigations are of significant interest to the American public and Congress and of vital importance to the Department. Teams working on these cases include senior attorneys, special agents, auditors, and inspectors. The following pages highlight these complex OIG investigations. Completed special investigative reports, except as noted, are available on the OIG Website at <>.

Allegations of Cocaine Trafficking by the CIA
and the Nicaraguan Contras

The OIG completed an investigation into allegations of drug trafficking by persons associated with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Nicaraguan Contras (Contras). This investigation was initiated at the request of members of Congress after a public outcry over allegations contained in a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury News. The articles suggested that the CIA, working with supporters of the Contras, was involved in the importation of crack cocaine into Los Angeles in the 1980s.

The OIG investigation focused on the Department's investigations and prosecutions regarding various aspects of these allegations. Our investigative team reviewed over 40,000 relevant documents collected from Department components and conducted over 200 witness interviews throughout the United States and Nicaragua. We coordinated our investigation with the CIA's OIG, which engaged in a related inquiry focused on the CIA's conduct in these matters.

Our report was scheduled for release in mid-December 1997. However, the Attorney General invoked her authority to delay its release, pursuant to the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, "because of law enforcement concerns unrelated to the ultimate conclusions reached in [the] report." We expect the report to be released when the law enforcement concerns have abated.

Bombs in Brooklyn

This OIG investigation examined how two illegal aliens, Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer and Lafi Khalil, entered and remained in the United States before their July 1997 apprehension in Brooklyn for allegedly planning to bomb the New York City subway system.

We found that the INS Border Patrol arrested Mezer three times in seven months for attempting to enter the United States from Canada. Twice, he voluntarily returned to Canada. After the third arrest, INS began formal deportation proceedings but Mezer was released on bond while the proceedings were pending.

The Washington Times Wednesday, April 8, 1998


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1997 - March 31, 1998

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Special Inquiries


Khalil entered the country legally, with a 29-day transit visa for transit through the United States on his way to Ecuador. When he arrived in New York, however, an immigration inspector mistakenly granted him a 6-month tourist visa. He overstayed that visa and was arrested, along with Mezer, on July 31, 1997.

We examined documents relating to Mezer's and Khalil's contacts with immigration authorities and interviewed numerous INS and other government officials regarding their contacts with the suspects. We found no intentional misconduct by INS or Department of State (State) officials. However, we identified systemic problems in controlling the United States borders, including a lack of space to detain all aliens who attempt to enter the United States illegally. We concluded that INS and State must clarify which agency is responsible for determining whether an asylum applicant is a terrorist. We also recommended that INS and State review the criteria for granting "transit without visa" travel and delineate their respective roles in the visa process.

Operation Gatekeeper

The OIG investigation of Operation Gatekeeper -- the INS Border Patrol's effort to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border between California and Baja California -- began in July 1996 shortly after officials of the National Border Patrol Council alleged that Operation Gatekeeper's achievements were being misrepresented to make it appear successful.

The allegations included claims that Border Patrol agents were being ordered not to apprehend illegal immigrants, that apprehended illegal immigrants were not properly processed in order to prevent any record of their apprehension, and that Border Patrol supervisors were altering apprehension figures to make them appear low. The team currently is writing the report of its investigation, which we expect to issue during the next semiannual reporting period.

Citizenship U.S.A.

In September 1995, INS initiated Citizenship U.S.A. (CUSA), a program whose stated goal was to substantially reduce the backlog of pending naturalization applications. Over one million individuals were naturalized during the year the program was in operation.

In May 1997, at the request of Congress and the Attorney General, the OIG began an investigation of CUSA following allegations of misconduct within the program, including allegations that applicants with disqualifying backgrounds were naturalized and that standards were compromised in an effort to maximize the number of persons eligible to vote in the November 1996 elections.

A team of senior attorneys and more than 30 special agents, inspectors, auditors, and support personnel continues to investigate these allegations. The team has conducted more than 700 interviews of INS personnel and others and has reviewed thousands of documents. The investigation is ongoing.


USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1997 - March 31, 1998

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Special Inquiries


Campaign Finance

In September 1997, the Attorney General and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) learned that classified intelligence information pertaining to the Department's campaign finance investigation may not have been appropriately disseminated within the FBI and the Department. In November 1997, the Attorney General asked the OIG to review how this intelligence information was handled. To date, we have reviewed over 10,000 pages of classified information and conducted numerous interviews. The investigation is ongoing.

Lost Trust

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office in South Carolina conducted a major investigation, called "Lost Trust," into corruption, vote buying, influence peddling, and drug usage in the state legislature. After litigation that lasted over six years, a U.S. district judge dismissed all remaining charges on the grounds that "the government's repetitious, flagrant, and long-standing misconduct in connection with the investigation and prosecution of the legislators warranted dismissal." The Court alleged misconduct by the FBI, U.S. Attorney's Office, and the Department's Public Integrity Section. This opinion also was critical of an earlier investigation by the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

At the request of the Deputy Attorney General, the OIG initiated a full review of the prosecutions and investigations implicated in the Court's dismissal order. Our investigative team, led by two attorneys, is reviewing documents related to the investigation and prosecution of the cases and related documents generated by the Department's OPR and FBI's OPR. The team now is interviewing the many persons involved in handling these cases. The investigation is ongoing.


The Criminal Division's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) and Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT) office foster, support, and strengthen democratic principles and structures of law enforcement in foreign countries. Particularly in those countries that have recently embraced democracy, ICITAP and OPDAT provide training for police, prosecutors, and the judiciary and advice on American laws and programs to combat crime within a democratic framework.

In April 1997, the OIG began an investigation of ICITAP and OPDAT following allegations of program mismanagement and supervisory misconduct. The investigative team of special agents, auditors, inspectors, and support personnel, under the direction of a senior attorney, has interviewed over 90 witnesses in the United States and several foreign countries and has reviewed over 5,800 pages of documents. The investigation is ongoing.


Kenneth Trentadue, an inmate being held at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was found dead in his cell in August 1995. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) concluded that Trentadue committed suicide by hanging.

USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1997 - March 31, 1998

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Special Inquiries

However, allegations that Trentadue was murdered and that evidence was mishandled led to an investigation by the FBI and the Department's Civil Rights Division. The investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence of a violation of the federal criminal civil rights laws. Following that investigation, the OIG began a separate review to determine whether BOP and FBI employees engaged in misconduct in the events surrounding the death of Trentadue. The investigation is ongoing.

FBI Laboratory

In April 1997, the OIG issued its report on the FBI Laboratory. In this report, we discussed our 18-month investigation of wrongdoing and improper practices within the Laboratory. Our report recommended numerous changes in the Laboratory, all of which the FBI agreed to implement.

Since the report was issued, we have continued to monitor the FBI's implementation of our recommendations. Our investigative team reviews periodic progress reports from the FBI that address the Laboratory's implementation of recommended changes and preparation for accreditation. At the close of the reporting period, we initiated a review to determine the extent to which the Laboratory has implemented our recommendations, using the team of lawyers, scientists, and investigators who conducted the original investigation. The results of this follow-up review will be reported in our next Semiannual Report to Congress.


Other Activities


Other OIG Contributions

OIG semiannual reports feature the major investigations and programmatic reviews performed by the OIG during the past six months. In addition, the OIG has engaged in other noteworthy activities that significantly contribute to the Department and the governmental community.

• Continuing the effort to address corruption and misconduct within the Department, the Inspector General (IG) formed the Research and Analysis Unit (Unit) in the Investigations Division. The Unit will design, plan, and conduct policy analyses and research projects related to the investigation and prevention of corruption. Unit initiatives will include studies of corruption in the federal prison system and along the Southwest Border and development of a more targeted integrity awareness program. The Unit also will develop a statistics-based management program to help the Division identify trends in Department misconduct and corruption and develop strategies to address these trends.

• Investigators conducted 36 Integrity Awareness Briefings for Department employees throughout the country. These briefings are designed to educate employees concerning the misuse of a public official's position for personal gain and to deter employees from committing such offenses. The briefings reached over 1,107 employees with a message highlighting the devastating consequences of corruption to both the employee and the agency.

USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, October 1, 1997 - March 31, 1998

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Other Activities

• During this reporting period, the Investigations Division's McAllen Field Office joined with the FBI and eight other federal, state, and county law enforcement agencies to form the South Texas Public Corruption Task Force. The first of its kind in South Texas, this full-time task force will investigate allegations of drug-related public corruption in South Texas and along the Southwest Border. The combined resources and expertise of the member agencies will significantly enhance our ability to detect and deter public corruption.


Friday, March 27, 1998 THE MONITOR, McAllen, Texas

Wed., March 25, 1998 THE MONITOR


The task force includes agents and officers from the OIG, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas, FBI, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Other members include the U.S. Customs Service's Office of Internal Affairs, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Texas Department of Public Safety-Texas Rangers, Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department, Hidalgo County District Attorney's Office, and Cameron County District Attorney's Office.

• The Investigations Division's San Diego Field Office continues its active participation in the San Diego Civil Rights Working Group. The OIG participates with the group in addressing specific complaints identified at group meetings and facilitating communication and resolution of more general complaints between component agencies, such as INS and Border Patrol, and community groups, thereby making both government agencies and community groups more aware of each other's concerns, viewpoints, and procedures.

• The San Diego Field Office also participates, along with the FBI, U.S. Customs Service's Office of Internal Affairs, IRS, DEA, and U.S. Attorney's Office, in the San Diego Border Corruption Task Force. This pooling of resources results in more effective and timely investigation of drug-related corruption allegations involving the Department and U.S. Customs Service employees stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border.

• The Audit Division continued to monitor INS' critical automation initiatives, which will affect nearly all aspects of INS management. Auditors attended INS' quarterly meetings to monitor their effective use of automation resources and provided input regarding INS' monitoring of these initiatives. In addition, auditors held discussions with INS regarding audits of the contractor and subcontractors assigned to the automation initiatives.

• Inspectors continued to work with the Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to implement the new Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-In-Sentencing Incentive (VOI/TIS) Grant Program. Inspectors participated in OJP conferences to discuss project implementation and the enactment of truth-in-sentencing legislation. During this reporting period, inspectors initiated seven VOI/TIS grant reviews.

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Other Activities

• By statute, every three years each OIG audit office must be examined by an outside entity to ensure that its operations conform to established professional norms. During this reporting period, a team of senior auditors conducted an external quality control review of the Department of Commerce's OIG. Our review team issued an unqualified opinion for that OIG's audit function.

Inspector General Congressional Testimony

On March 5, 1998, the IG testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration during a hearing on INS' efforts to reform the naturalization process. The IG's testimony concerned an OIG investigation into citizenship testing fraud that resulted in the indictment of 20 individuals for their participation in schemes to fraudulently obtain naturalization documents for aliens.

Legislation and Regulations

The Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, directs the IG to review proposed legislation and regulations relating to the programs and operations of the Department. Although the Department's Office of Legislative Affairs reviews all proposed or enacted legislation that could affect the Department's activities, the OIG independently reviews proposed legislation affecting the OIG itself or fraud, waste, and abuse in the Department's programs or operations. During this reporting period, the OIG reviewed seven pieces of proposed legislation.

This work is overseen by the OIG's Office of General Counsel (OGC). In addition, OGC has participated in the development of Departmentwide guidance relating to assistance to victims of crimes and the implementation of better mechanisms for handling sexual harassment issues.

President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency Activities

The IG is a member of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE). OIG staff participate in PCIE activities -- such as the Inspections Round Table, an annual investigations conference, meetings of the Chief Financial Officers Group, and the OIG GPRA (Government Performance and Results Act) Coordinators' Interest Group -- that relate to their respective duties. The IG also is a member of the Investigative Standards and Training Committee and the Legislation Committee.

Office of Investigative Agency Policies

The OIG is a member of the Office of Investigative Agency Policies (OIAP), which is composed of the Department's law enforcement components and which develops coordinated policies for law enforcement activities. Among the issues addressed this year by the OIAP were guidelines for federal law enforcement legislation, amendments to the Department's deadly force policy, soft body armor procurement, and post shooting representation for law enforcement personnel.