The number of border patrol agents employed by the Department of Homeland Security is expected to grow to more than 20,000 by 2009, which is more than double what it was in 2001. An investigation by The New York Times and FRONTLINE/World found that the increased manpower has also led to increased corruption—agents accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to smuggle illegal immigrants, drugs, and weapons across the border they were hired to protect.

“If you can get a corrupt inspector, you have the keys to the kingdom,” one FBI agent told the reporters.

The Times article, by Randal C. Archibold and Andrew Becker, catalogs a number of recent cases of agents-gone-bad. The accompanying FRONTLINE/World documentary begins airing on PBS tonight and will also be available online. Check local listings.

Carrie Ching

Carrie Ching is an award-winning, independent multimedia journalist and producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For six years, she led digital storytelling projects at the Center for Investigative Reporting as senior multimedia producer. Her multimedia reports have been featured by NPR.org, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Grist, Time.com, Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, KQED, PBS NewsHour, Salon.com, Mother Jones, Public Radio International, Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review and many other publications. Her specialty is crafting digital narratives and exploring ways to use video, audio, photography, animation and interactive graphics to push the boundaries of storytelling on the Web, tablets and mobile. Her work has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Best of the West, the Online News Association, Scripps Howard, The Gracies, and was part of the entry in a Pulitzer-finalist project. Prior to her time at CIR she was a magazine and book editor, video journalist, newspaper reporter and TV comedy scriptwriter. She was on the 2010 Eddie Adams Workshop faculty as a multimedia producer working with MediaStorm to teach digital storytelling techniques to photojournalists. She completed a master’s degree in journalism at UC Berkeley in 2005.