Friday, December 1, 2023

Hidden camera captures customs agent demanding a bribe

A customs agent in Matamoros, Tamaulipas has been dismissed after a video caught him asking for a bribe of US $1,000 to let a merchant through without declaring his products.

“A person likes to go to the mall… he has a family,” explained the agent, Saúl Hernández, by way of justification in the video. “You have $10,000 in merchandise. If I asked for $9,000 … it would be robbery, it would be extortion. But 10%, that’s not bad. Legally you would have to pay 25%.”

Little did Hernández know, his target was secretly recording the conversation, which took place at a customs office on the International Free Trade Bridge that connects Matamoros to Los Indios, Texas.

The video was not the first indication of corruption on Hernández’s part. The Federation of Tamaulipas Chambers of Commerce and the vice president of the Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce (Concanaco) have accused the same agent of committing acts of corruption against both merchants and tourists.

Concanaco vice president Julio Almanza Armas said his reports to the General Customs Management Office received no response.

“We solicited an urgent audience with the customs director, Horacio Duarte, to give him our evidence of corruption in the Tamaulipas customs office, but we have received no response,” Almanza Armas told the newspaper Reforma.

But an official announcement came Friday. Customs chief Duarte announced Hernández’s “immediate departure” for loss of trust. “We have a zero-tolerance policy toward corruption.”

With reports from Reforma

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