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Tuesday, June 12, 2007
National Guardsmen charged with smuggling immigrants
Imagine a young Texas National Guard soldier in uniform driving a van north along Interstate 35 out of the border town of Laredo, Texas. He crosses a checkpoint with the help of another soldier on duty at the post. Thirty miles later, Border Patrol agents pull the van over and discover 24 illegal immigrants hiding in the back of the van.

Federal authorities say that's what happened last week. And when they dug deeper, they say, they discovered three soldiers operating an illegal immigrant smuggling ring. The Texas National Guard soldiers were arrested and charged with "conspiring to transport illegal aliens."

The details we're learning about the operation are disturbing. There are text messages between the soldiers to coordinate the movement of the illegal immigrants. There are promises of big cash payouts too. But there are many questions left unanswered. Were these soldiers part of a bigger operation? How did they locate the illegal immigrants that were being smuggled?

This story will get a lot of people talking. On one hand, you have many people who will say this is just an aberration; that this is simply a story about a few bad apples among thousands of soldiers that are helping protect the United States' southern border. On the other hand, some critics say they fear the corruption could become more widespread as larger numbers of soldiers and federal authorities are sent to defend the border. That's just a fraction of the opinions this story is sure to generate.

-- By Ed Lavandera, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 5:54 PM ET
  13 Comments
They followed the money. Corruption knows no boudaries, does it.

But, think on this: the borders are just the same as they were on September 10, 2001. Does that make anyone nervous?
Posted By xtina - chicago IL : 6:18 PM ET
those 3 punk national guard soldiers should be sent to Ft. Leavenworth (the US Army's prison) for about 20 years, no less!! idiots! we have enough of a problem here in Texas already with illegal immigrants!
Posted By Cynthia, Ft. Worth, TX : 6:19 PM ET
as with all crimes and our wimpy legal justice system, the problem is we need tougher laws and tougher penalties for crimes committed. we are too "namby-pamby, wimpy blithering liberal" these days!! time to "bring the hammer down"!!
Posted By Mark, Sacramento, CA : 6:21 PM ET
Send all these guys to Iraq; the National Guardsmen who need an attitude adjustment and the illgeal aliens who want to be Americans ! Let them fight for our country against our real enemies.
Posted By xtina -- chicago, IL : 6:31 PM ET
Hey Ed,
People will do anything for money. Even if it is illegal. Most of those we elect to office!
Let's get real. You know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is how everyting is run in Mexico. Don't get me wrong. I love Mexico but the illegal immigrants have figured out a way to entice the border patrol and I am willing to bet it is BIG business.
We have all seen cops gone bad. It happens all the time in every city and town, not just on the border. While most police are sincere and doing their job very well, the few bad apples are the ones we hear about.
If you call the police and order a pizza at the same time, which one would arrive first? you guess it, it's all about the dough!!!!
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 7:34 PM ET
When there is money to be made, there will be some unscrupulous individuals who will take advantage of the situation.

More than likely, there are some others involved and after a full investigation, everyone involved should be prosecuted and punished.
Posted By Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 7:36 PM ET
These people should have their stripes and insignia ripped from their uniforms on TV for all to see, rather like was done to Chuck Connors on the old TV show "Branded". These men are a disgrace and jail isn't good enough for them.
As a member of the Tennessee Army National Guard on the Southwest Border Mission, it made me sick to know soldiers did this. The soldiers I work with stand the border in 100 degree heat with a since of duty and pride. As in any job there is always a few that give the rest a bad name. The National Guard is a dedicated group of soldiers.
Posted By SPC Tony Dankowski : 2:40 AM ET
Well, if the Fed. Govt. paid these guys a litte more, maybe they would not have to moonlight to make ends meet. :>)

BCNU
Posted By Rollo Rogers, San Diego, CA : 5:30 PM ET
It is unfortunate that this incident had to happen. We can't overlook the fact the members of the Army National Guard has continued to make sacrifices to keep us safe here at home and also abroad. I wonder if they are now stretched thin with wars overseas and long deployments as border duty at home. These men and women already do so much to protect us here in our respective states - from fires to floods and so on. We can't let these three individuals in the news reflect the dedication and sacrifes the National Guard men and women make for us each day, and we need to continue appreciate all that they do for us.
Posted By Vic Austin, TX : 7:55 PM ET
As SPC Tony Dankowski says most National Guardsmen are a credit to their uniform and do their job well day after day, protecting and defending this nation and its inhabitants against whatever dangers they have been assigned to. There are always bad apples in any group - people whose price is low enough to forget the safety of their friends, family and country for a few dollars. Let us be glad these two were caught and that the possibiliy of this problem being more widespread uncovered; knowing what a problem is often is the first step to solving it so the rest of the Guard can continue to do the good job that the majority of them do every day.
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 10:56 PM ET
Since smuggling compromises the security of the Nation, which could lead to a potential terrorist attack. I say the charges should reflect just that. Charge and punish the guardsmen at the same level you would a terrorist.
Posted By Anthony Aramendia Orlando, FL : 10:31 AM ET
They are just doing the work that Americans won't do. They are personally implementing Bush's immigration policy. Only with their own version. They are sick sob's. I hope they go to prison for a very long time. Watching two people die in the water is sick and horrible on so many levels. Of course knowing Bush he'll give them a medal. Unlike those two border patrol agents who actually did their job and are in prison. It's very strange how our legal system works.
Posted By Heather,Riverside,Ca : 11:33 AM ET
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