The John Carman Report

Keeping Your Nose Clean

Another important aspect of La w Enforcement, and especially Narcotics Interdiction, is the aspect of keeping the "appearance" of being a fine upstanding narcotics officer/agent.

You must remain free from guilt by association (don't associate or communicate with known felons or smugglers without permission or official requirements), obey all laws, traffic laws, don't drink in excess, or use any drugs or narcotics without a doctor's prescription, and never, ever, ever take a bribe or lie under oath in a court of law, grand jury, or lawful preceding or investigation.

You must remain totally credible, if and when you have to go to court regarding your case against the violator. Especially this, you must always keep your nose clean, in more ways than one. Keep your nose away from white powdery substances that you haven't tested properly with the proper "protective" gloves/mask, etc... I have had to take a Police Officer F.T.O. to the hospital when I was on the San Diego Police Department back in the late 70's. PCP is not a nice way to go home for the night. I also had to remove all the weapons from this "exposed" officer after I warned him not to get his nose to close to those "sherms" that we confiscated from some partygoers at a Rock Concert.

I have also seen this same accident happen on a few Customs/DEA agents after they got too "curious" about what they have just seized. The "curious" just had to go to the hospital and become a victim of the drugs he was trying to interdict. Some people just don't take advise to well. They were just lucky it wasn't some sort of new poison or a biological weapon that someone was trying to smuggle in. Narco-terrorists have been known to threaten to kill U.S. narcotics agents with dangerous chemicals or even explosive devices.

I have come across many situations and experiences where I have been offered a bribe or I have seen others arrested for taking bribes. (It's a pretty good experience to see that someone from I.A. is doing their job, especially if the charges stick against a "Dirty Badge".)

It seems pretty logical, unless you are working "deep undercover", to be as spotless as possible. Otherwise you'll want everyone to "think" you are "dirty". It makes it safer for you when the bad guys think you are dirty. Unfortunately, the bad guys think you are worse than they are and you become "very expendable". They will "off" you as soon as they don't need you, or they think you will become a risk.

It seems pretty logical, unless you are working "deep undercover", to be as spotless as possible. Otherwise you'll want everyone to "think" you are "dirty". It makes it safer for you when the bad guys think you are dirty. Unfortunately, the bad guys think you are worse than they are and you become "very expendable". They will "off" you as soon as they don't need you, or they think you will become a risk.

In the past I have been offered bribes, reported them through channels and the office of internal affairs and the stinking U.S. Attorney didn't want to do anything with it that day. Or the amount wasn't enough to work. I guess I should have had video tape and a signed confession before I called the Internal Affairs.

I have seen where our own high ranking Customs Officials are collaborating or associating with "known" smugglers and Customs/DEA violators like the case of Jerry martin having his picture with "Jorge Hank-Rhon", Owner of the Caliente Race Track. He was famous for getting caught with the endangered white tiger at the southbound check point at the San Ysidro border check point before entering Tijuana, Mexico. Hank-Rhon also has quite a history of not reporting his currency when entering/exiting the United States. He seems to forget that he has more than $10,000.00 in his possession or is causing it to be transported across the U.S. border by having it in his personal luggage.

One incident that happened back in the late 80's was when Jorge Hank-Rhon arrived at the "Customs Designated" International Airport Brown Field in the Otay Mesa area just about 6 miles from San Ysidro and less than 3 miles from Otay Mesa/Mexico. It just so happens that I was personally told by one of the Senior Customs Inspectors who was called to respond to the "after hours" flight at Brown Field. When the Customs Inspector attempted to do his job, he located approximately $200,000.00 in the possession of Jorge Hank-Rhon while on his personal private jet that just arrived from Tijuana, Mexico.

As is procedure, the Customs inspector notified his superiors at Otay Mesa or San Ysidro so that they would know that they would be seizing the aircraft and be late for whatever else they might normally be expected for elsewhere. As the story goes, within about 20 minutes, there was a phone call from the Port Director Jerry Martin via former District Director Allan J. Rappoport "ordering" the "release" of the money and plane back to Mr. Jorge Hank-Rhon. He didn't even fill out a required Customs CF4790 or a CMIR report for the I.R.S..

I must point out to everyone, that under the money reporting requirements, it is law that you must report any currency or it's equivalent which is over the $10,000.00 level at this time, to the appropriate Customs officials prior to or at the time of arrival from a foreign destination. It is not the official duty or lawful requirement that the Customs official "ask" you the currency question in order for Customs to seize the money. It is only policy that they ask.

I know that Customs upper management is always "harping" on the lower ranking Customs employees not to take advantage of certain discounted rates at the airports or vacation cruises on the same cruise lines that we inspect from foreign countries. But when upper management is seen with these "known" Customs violators, it seems logical that an indictment would be forthcoming against some of these "Customs" upper management types, instead of "hiding them at another office or transferring them out, or maybe even giving them an early retirement. I think that the U.S. Attorney should start doing their jobs an indicting a few of these guys before they do our country more damage.

One other incident of keeping your nose clean is directed at the Mexican Narcotics Law Enforcement officials that we depend on from time to time. There was an actual case of Ricardo Gibert. He is/was a prosecuting attorney for the Mexican Judicial system in Tijuana. On one occasion, this man came to the rescue of two of his own enforcement agents that had mistakenly forgot to declare approximately $16,000.00 which was mysteriously stuck inside of the driver's jacket sleeve. The two Mexican enforcement agents were caught by surprise when the Customs Inspector decided to look further when they allegedly presented a yellow laminated "Camacho Courtesy Card". Subsequently, Ricardo Gibert was called and came to vouch for these two "forgetful" Mexican agents who were going to the bank in San Diego. Subsequent to that incident, according to the Customs incident reports, they supposedly paid a small penalty of about 3% which was less than $500.00 and the release of their car. This was also contrary to District Policy on currency seizures as well.

What's even more interesting is that approximately two weeks later Mr. Ricardo Gibert, was very nervous upon entering the United States through San Ysidro back in approximately 1994-95. A very promising Customs Inspector decided to question further Mr. Gibert. Gibert was about to get "walked in" to Customs Secondary for an intensive search. During this time Mr.Gibert showed visible signs of being nervous and was in the process of being walked up when his pager went off a couple of times. Mr. Gibert claimed," it's agent so and so at Operation Alliance". I have a meeting with him now and I'm going to be late. Mr. Gibert was walked into secondary anyway. A subsequent pat-down revealed a small amount of cocaine secreted in a bindle within a matchbook cover which just so happened to be Mr. Gibert's girlfriend's. Amazingly, Ricardo got out of his seizure and paid a small "fine" and was able to make his meeting without too much of a delay.

Mr. Gibert lives in the Bonita/Chula Vista area in a very nice home with about 5 personal vehicles. He is not a U.S. Citizen but may be a resident alien working in Mexico in a Law Enforcement position. Do you know how many Mexican Law Enforcement types I have encountered that live here legally/illegally and reap the benefits of both countries or collect unemployment and welfare checks while working in Mexico??? I have also arrested and detained Mexican law Enforcement types that were protected by the Customs Liaison Agent.

The Customs Liaison agent has a very interesting job. He intervenes when a possible international incident may occur when assertive Customs inspectors/agents arrest Mexican or foreign national law enforcement types. I know of at least half a dozen cases where this certain Customs Agent (Sonny Manzano) has released the drivers of NCIC stolen vehicles, DUI, or other violations by Mexican Government officials without legal justification or proper permission from the U.S. Attorney's Office. Some of these suspects were recruits by some of these Customs agents to "snitch" for the U.S. Remember what happened to the previous informants that got away?

If you or I were caught in "any" embarrassing situation or were just being scammed by a dirty cop/agent in Mexico, we would surely suffer the consequences of extortion or the very whim of the Mexican Police official whether we did anything or not. Unless of course you have lot's of spare cash that comes from your outstanding government paycheck.

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