Index

Alien Smuggling: Management and Operational Improvements Needed to
Address Growing Problem (Letter Report, 05/01/2000, GAO/GGD-00-103).

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Immigration and
Naturalization Service's (INS) implementation of a strategy to combat
alien smuggling, focusing on: (1) the nature and extent of alien
smuggling into the United States; (2) INS' strategy for combatting alien
smuggling; and (3) how well the strategy has been implemented and the
results to date.

GAO noted that: (1) in fiscal year (FY) 1999, 14 percent of all Border
Patrol apprehensions were smuggled aliens compared to 9 percent in 1997;
(2) according to INS, aliens from countries other than Mexico
purportedly rely more heavily on organized smugglers and an increase in
apprehensions of aliens from other countries would indicate an increase
in alien smuggling; (3) apprehensions of aliens from countries other
than Mexico increased from 58,000 in FY 1997 to about 81,000 in FY 1999;
(4) INS believes that alien smuggling will become a more significant
enforcement problem in the future because alien smuggling organizations
are expected to become more sophisticated, organized, and complex; (5)
INS issued an anti-smuggling strategy in 1997 that contains domestic and
international components; (6) the domestic component calls for: (a) INS
to focus its investigations on major smuggling operations; and (b) INS'
anti-smuggling investigative field units to coordinate their activities
and share anti-smuggling intelligence information with each other; (7)
as part of the domestic component, the strategy calls for INS'
Intelligence Program to optimize its ability to collect, analyze, and
disseminate intelligence information to identify targets for enforcement
and help focus INS' anti-smuggling resources on efforts that would have
the greatest impact; (8) the international component includes INS'
conducting operations in cooperation with foreign governments to disrupt
alien smuggling in countries that either are major sources of illegal
immigration or through which illegal aliens travel on their way to the
United States; (9) INS' ability to implement and evaluate the
effectiveness of the domestic component of its strategy is impeded by
several factors: (a) lack of program coordination; (b) absence of an
automated case tracking and management system; and (c) limited
performance measures; (10) as part of its international component, INS
conducted operations in 34 countries between August 1995 and November
1999; (11) during these operations, INS assisted in intercepting
undocumented aliens destined for the United States, trained foreign
officials on migration controls, and provided assistance in prosecuting
alien smugglers; (12) however, there have been impediments to INS'
ability to have more than a temporary impact on alien smuggling
overseas; and (13) according to INS and Department of State officials,
these impediments include corruption of some foreign officials and the
lack of laws against alien smuggling in some countries.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  GGD-00-103
     TITLE:  Alien Smuggling: Management and Operational Improvements
	     Needed to Address Growing Problem
      DATE:  05/01/2000
   SUBJECT:  Performance measures
	     Illegal aliens
	     Organized crime
	     International cooperation
	     Strategic planning
	     Arrests
	     Law enforcement
	     Smuggling
	     Human resources utilization
	     Immigration and naturalization law
IDENTIFIER:  Texas
	     INS Intelligence Program
	     INS Investigations Program
	     Central America
	     China
	     INS Visa Waiver Pilot Program
	     Mexico

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GAO/GGD-00-103

United States General Accounting Office
GAO

Report to Congressional Committees

May 2000

GAO/GGD-00-103

ALIEN SMUGGLING
Management and

Operational Improvements

Needed to Address

Growing Problem

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Contents
Page 321            GAO/GGD-00-103 Alien Smuggling
Letter                                                                      1
                                                                             
Appendix I                                                                 34
GAO Contacts and Staff
Acknowledgments
                                                                             
Figures                    Figure 1:  Source Countries With the             8
                           Highest Number of INS Apprehensions,
                           Excluding Mexico
                           Figure 2: Anti-smuggling Workyears              15
                           Fiscal Years 1992 through 1999
                                                                             

Abbreviations

CIA       Central Intelligence Agency
EPIC      El Paso Intelligence Center
FBI       Federal Bureau of Investigation
INS       Immigration and Naturalization Service
NSA       National Security Agency
PRC       People's Republic of China
VWPP      Visa Waiver Pilot Program

B-283952

Page 30             GAO/GGD-00-103 Alien Smuggling
B-283952

May 1, 2000

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
Chairman
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
 
The Honorable Henry J. Hyde
Chairman
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on the Judiciary
House of Representatives
 
Alien smuggling is a significant and growing
problem. Although it is likely that most smuggled
aliens are brought into the United States to
pursue employment opportunities, some are smuggled
as part of a criminal or terrorist enterprise that
can pose a serious threat to U.S. national
security. According to the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS), smugglers
collectively may earn several billion dollars per
year bringing illegal aliens across our borders.

Over the past 6 fiscal years, INS has experienced
unprecedented increases in personnel and other
resources to implement the Attorney General's
strategy to deter and disrupt the entry of illegal
aliens into the United States. This is our fourth1
in a series of mandated2 reports on the
implementation of that strategy. As agreed with
your Committees, this report assesses the
strategy's objective that is related to combating
alien smuggling. Specifically, this report
addresses the following:

    What is known about the nature and extent of
alien smuggling into the United States.
    INS' strategy for combating alien smuggling.
    How well the strategy has been implemented
and the results to date.

Results in Brief
INS data indicate that over the last 2 fiscal
years, alien smuggling has increased and INS
predicts that the smuggling  will continue to
grow. In fiscal year 1999, 14 percent of all
Border Patrol apprehensions were smuggled aliens
compared to 9 percent in 1997. According to INS,
aliens from countries other than Mexico
purportedly rely more heavily on organized
smugglers and an increase in apprehensions of
aliens from other countries would indicate an
increase in alien smuggling.  Apprehensions of
aliens from countries other than Mexico increased
from 58,000, or 4 percent of all INS apprehensions
in fiscal year 1997, to about 81,000, or almost 5
percent in fiscal year 1999. INS believes that
alien smuggling will become a more significant
enforcement problem in the future because alien
smuggling organizations are expected to become
more sophisticated, organized, and complex.

INS issued an anti-smuggling strategy in 1997 that
contains domestic and international components.
The domestic component calls for (1) INS to focus
its investigations on major smuggling operations
and (2) INS' anti-smuggling investigative field
units to coordinate their activities and share
anti-smuggling intelligence information with each
other. INS' initial efforts were to be directed at
South/Central Texas, which is identified as one of
three major alien smuggling corridors in the
United States. As part of the domestic component,
the strategy calls for INS' Intelligence Program
to optimize its ability to collect, analyze, and
disseminate intelligence information to identify
targets for enforcement and help focus INS' anti-
smuggling resources on efforts that would have the
greatest impact.  The international component
includes INS' conducting operations in cooperation
with foreign governments to disrupt alien
smuggling in countries that either are major
sources of illegal immigration or through which
illegal aliens travel on their way to the United
States.

Domestically, INS' Investigations Program devoted
about 400 workyears to anti-smuggling
investigations in fiscal year 1999. During this
period, INS completed several major anti-smuggling
cases and over 2,000 other cases, of which
slightly over 300 were in the South/Central Texas
corridor. Nationwide, INS arrested about 4,100
smugglers and over 40,000 smuggled aliens. INS
prosecuted almost 2,000 smugglers of whom about 61
percent were convicted. The convicted smugglers
received an average sentence of about 10 months
and an average fine of about $140.

INS' ability to implement and evaluate the
effectiveness of the domestic component of its
strategy is impeded by several factors, including
the following:

    Lack of program coordination: In several
border areas, multiple anti-smuggling enforcement
units exist that overlap in their jurisdictions,
operate autonomously, and report to different INS
officials. INS field officials make determinations
about which cases to investigate with no clear
criteria on how the determinations should be made,
resulting in inconsistent decisionmaking across
locations. Within the South/Central Texas
corridor, INS' anti-smuggling investigation field
units have generally not coordinated their
enforcement operations with one another.
According to INS' Investigations Program
officials, the autonomy of the individual anti-
smuggling field units and the lack of a single
chain of command are major obstacles to a more
effective anti-smuggling program.

    Absence of an automated case tracking and
management system: INS lacks an agencywide
automated case tracking and management system that
would allow INS' anti-smuggling program managers
to monitor their ongoing investigations, determine
if other anti-smuggling units may be investigating
the same target individual or organization, or
know if previous investigations had been conducted
on a particular target. INS anti-smuggling units
are not required to share information on their
anti-smuggling cases. As a result, on occasion,
different INS investigative units have
simultaneously investigated the same individuals
and/or organizations.

    Limited performance measures: INS' fiscal
year 1999 performance goals focused mainly on the
number of smugglers presented for prosecution to
the U.S. Attorney and the number of designated
priority cases. INS has not issued performance
indicators that would assess the effectiveness of
the strategy's objective to deter and disrupt
alien smuggling. Performance indicators, such as a
shift in smuggling activity between geographic
areas along the border, were under development at
the time of our review.

INS' Intelligence Program has been impeded by a
lack of understanding among field staff on how to
report intelligence information, a lack of staff
to perform intelligence functions at most INS
district offices, and an inefficient and
cumbersome process of organizing data that does
not allow for rapid retrieval and analysis.  As a
result, INS has limited ability to identify
targets for enforcement and to help focus its anti-
smuggling resources on efforts that would have the
greatest impact.

As part of its international component, INS
conducted operations in 34 countries between
August 1995 and November 1999. During these
operations, INS assisted in intercepting
undocumented aliens destined for the United
States, trained foreign officials on migration
controls, and provided assistance in prosecuting
alien smugglers.  However, there have been
impediments to INS' ability to have more than a
temporary impact on alien smuggling overseas.
According to INS and Department of State
officials, these impediments include corruption of
some foreign officials and the lack of laws
against alien smuggling in some countries.

Without improvements in its Investigations and
Intelligence Programs, INS' ability to disrupt and
deter increasingly sophisticated and organized
alien smugglers and dismantle their organizations
will continue to be hampered. We make
recommendations in this report to address the
problems that we identify.

Background
Combating the smuggling of aliens into the United
States involves numerous federal agencies and,
sometimes, the cooperation and assistance of
foreign governments. Within the United States, INS
is the key agency tasked with enforcing the
criminal statutes that prohibit alien smuggling.

Several INS programs are involved in the agency's
anti-smuggling efforts. The Investigations Program
is responsible for investigating alien smuggling
activities. This program has nearly 280
investigators who are assigned full-time to INS
Border Patrol sectors and district offices3 to
investigate alien smuggling activities.4 INS'
Intelligence Program is responsible for
collecting, analyzing, and disseminating
information related to alien smuggling and other
methods that are used to enter the United States
illegally. In fiscal year 1999, the Intelligence
Program spent about $14 million.5  Most of the
Intelligence Program staff are assigned to INS
headquarters, INS' Forensic Document Laboratory,
the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), and INS'
three regional offices. The International Affairs
Program is responsible for working with other
agencies and countries to deter alien smuggling in
countries that are the source of illegal aliens as
well as in countries that illegal aliens may
transit on their way to the United States. In
fiscal year 1999, International Affairs personnel
in INS' overseas offices spent about 28 staff
years on enforcement-related activities.6

Other federal agencies are also involved in
combating alien smuggling. For example, the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S.
Customs Service, and the Drug Enforcement
Administration have participated with INS in joint
investigations of alien smugglers. Under a
memorandum of understanding with INS, the FBI
provides technical assistance to INS regarding any
wiretaps that INS conducts. State's Bureau of
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
Affairs is the primary focal point for
coordinating international cooperation to halt
alien smuggling. State has helped some foreign
countries draft alien smuggling legislation and
has provided funds to foreign countries that have
intercepted smuggled aliens destined for the
United States to assist them in returning these
aliens to their home countries. The Coast Guard,
which is responsible for enforcing immigration law
at sea, conducts patrols to interdict undocumented
aliens at sea. The Central Intelligence Agency's
(CIA) Office of Transnational Issues provides
analytical assessments related to alien smuggling,
and the Department of Defense's National Security
Agency (NSA) assists in the interdiction of
smuggled aliens overseas. Lastly, the National
Security Council's Office of Transnational Threats
Alien Smuggling Sub-Group is responsible for
coordinating the development of U.S. policy in
response to specific immigration-related
situations or emergencies.

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology
As agreed with your offices, this report addresses
(1) what is known about the nature and extent of
alien smuggling into the United States, (2) INS'
strategy for combating alien smuggling, and (3)
how well INS has implemented the strategy and the
results to date.

To determine what is known about the nature and
extent of alien smuggling, we (1) reviewed INS
threat assessments, classified intelligence
documents, and academic studies related to alien
smuggling; (2) interviewed INS, State, and Coast
Guard officials as well as intelligence agency
officials at the CIA and NSA; and (3) analyzed INS
and Coast Guard statistical data on the number of
smuggled aliens apprehended.

To determine INS' strategy for combating alien
smuggling, we (1) reviewed various INS and
Administration strategy documents and (2)
interviewed INS, State, Coast Guard, EPIC, CIA,
and National Security Council officials.

To determine how well INS has implemented the
strategy and what the results have been, we (1)
reviewed INS directives and plans related to its
anti-smuggling strategy; (2) analyzed INS workload
data provided to us by INS and other reports on
the number and types of smuggling investigations
completed; and (3) interviewed officials at INS
headquarters and Western and Central regions and
from INS' field offices in Los Angeles and San
Diego, CA; Houston, McAllen, and Harlingen, TX;
and Mexico City, Mexico. We chose these field
locations because they were identified as major
smuggling corridors in INS' anti-smuggling
strategy. In addition, we reviewed certain aspects
of INS' Intelligence Program because INS' anti-
smuggling strategy stated that developing an
effective Intelligence Program was critical to its
anti-smuggling efforts. Specifically, we (1)
reviewed INS policy and procedures related to the
collection, analysis, and dissemination of
intelligence information; (2) reviewed
Intelligence Program strategic planning documents;
and (3) interviewed INS headquarters and field
intelligence officials.

We requested a classification review of a draft of
this report from NSA.  On April 13, 2000, the
Comptroller of NSA responded that NSA had
completed their review and had determined the
report to be unclassified.

We performed our work between July 1999 and
February 2000 in accordance with generally
accepted government auditing standards.

Alien Smuggling Is a Growing Problem
Between fiscal years 1997 and 1999, the number of
apprehended aliens smuggled into the United States
increased nearly 80 percent. INS believes that its
increased enforcement efforts along the southwest
border have prompted greater reliance on alien
smugglers, and that alien smuggling is becoming
more sophisticated, complex, organized, and
flexible. In addition, INS believes organized
crime groups will increasingly use smugglers to
smuggle their members into the United States to
engage in criminal activities.

Growth in Smuggled Aliens
INS' November 1999 INS Intelligence Assessment7
stated that illegal border-crossers have
increasingly relied on alien smugglers to enhance
their chances of successfully entering the United
States. INS data indicate that the number of
smuggled aliens apprehended attempting to enter
the United States increased nearly 80 percent over
2 years, from about 138,000 in fiscal year 1997 to
about 247,000 in fiscal year 1999. In fiscal year
1997, 9 percent of the 1.4 million illegal aliens
apprehended by the Border Patrol were smuggled
compared to 14 percent of the 1.6 million aliens
apprehended in fiscal year 1999.8

Another indication that alien smuggling is
increasing may be the number and proportion of
illegal aliens apprehended who are from countries
other than Mexico. According to INS, aliens who
are from countries other than Mexico rely more
heavily on organized smugglers. In fiscal year
1997, 58,000, or almost 4 percent of all INS
apprehensions, were illegal aliens from countries
other than Mexico compared to about 81,000, or
almost 5 percent, in fiscal year 1999. The Coast
Guard intercepted over 4,800 aliens in fiscal year
1999, which was an increase of 118 percent from
the 2,200 aliens intercepted in fiscal year 1997.9
Figure 1 shows the 11 source countries that,
excluding Mexico, have the greatest number of INS
apprehensions.

Figure 1:  Source Countries With the Highest
Number of INS Apprehensions, Excluding Mexico

Source: GAO analysis of INS data.
According to an October 1999 INS Western Region
intelligence report, some "lower level" drug
smugglers are finding it more difficult to compete
with the larger drug cartels and have turned to
smuggling aliens exclusively. Another reason that
drug smugglers may be turning to alien smuggling,
according to the report, is lesser penalties for
alien smuggling compared to drug smuggling.

Sources of Illegal Immigration
Central America is a key source and transit point
for illegal immigration to the United States.
According to a 1995 U.S. Interagency Working Group
report on alien smuggling, Central America is the
source of 200,000 to 300,000 aliens attempting to
enter the United States each year. An additional
100,000 a year from countries outside of Central
America may transit the area en route to the
United States. According to EPIC, 10 of the top 11
alien smugglers responsible for most of the
smuggling across the southwest border are
headquartered in Central American countries. An
INS official told us that the Mexican government
has a database that contains the names of over
2,000 individuals who are involved in alien
smuggling.

An October 1999 INS intelligence report stated
that the smuggling of nationals from the People's
Republic of China (PRC) was a significant
enforcement problem that would increase due to
expected high levels of unemployment in the PRC.
The report estimated that between 12,000 and
24,000 PRC nationals might have entered in 1999.
Although the Coast Guard has not received
significant increases in resources or changed the
way it conducts operations, the number of PRC
nationals that the Coast Guard has intercepted has
more than quadrupled in the past 2 years, from 240
in fiscal year 1997 to nearly 1,100 in fiscal year
1999.10  Similarly, the number of Cuban nationals
intercepted by the Coast Guard also has quadrupled
in 2 years, from about 400 in fiscal year 1997 to
about 1,600 in fiscal year 1999.

Alien Smuggling Organizations
How many smuggling organizations are operating is
unknown but the number is believed to be
substantial. According to an INS intelligence
report, various sources have estimated that there
may be up to 300 smuggling organizations in Mexico
alone. Reportedly, the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police suspect that at least 50 major alien
smuggling organizations in Toronto transport 5,000
aliens into the United States annually.

According to INS, there are generally two types of
smuggling organizations. The first, called "blue
collar" smugglers, are small operations that
smuggle mostly large numbers of Mexican nationals
and operate out of a border area. The other type,
called "white collar" organizations, smuggle
nationals who are from countries other then
Mexico, are international in scope, and charge
significantly higher fees. According to INS
reports, smuggling fees can range from a few
hundred dollars to cross the U.S. border to up to
$50,000 to be smuggled from China to the United
States.

Organized crime groups contribute to alien
smuggling and present a growing problem to INS.
According to INS' November 1999 Intelligence
Assessment, Colombian; Nigerian; Albanian; and
Russian organized crime groups all view the United
States as fertile ground for a myriad of criminal
activities. For example, a November 1999 INS
Central Region intelligence report stated that
Russian organized crime activities, including the
suspected smuggling of Russian prostitutes, have
expanded into a major midwestern metropolitan
area.  According to INS intelligence reports,
Chinese organized crime groups reportedly control
the smuggling of PRC nationals.

Alien Smuggling Becoming a More Significant
Enforcement Problem
INS predicts that alien smuggling will become a
more significant enforcement problem in the
future. INS believes that alien smuggling
organizations will become more sophisticated,
complex, and organized and will use additional
routes and methods to introduce illegal aliens
into the United States. For example, alien
smugglers are expected to

    increasingly use fraud to obtain immigration
benefits (e.g., permanent residency and work
authorization) for aliens they smuggle into the
United States,
    have more ties to organized crime groups as
they smuggle their members into the United States
to engage in criminal activities,
    increasingly use corrupt foreign government
officials and airline employees who are based in
foreign locations, and
    capitalize on the easing of travel
restrictions to facilitate entry into the United
States.

According to INS' November 1999 Intelligence
Assessment, smugglers can quickly change routes
and methods of operation to counter INS
enforcement measures. For example, after the Coast
Guard intercepted several boats of PRC nationals
in the Western Pacific in the spring of 1999,
smuggling efforts by air increased. Some smugglers
along the southwest border have reportedly begun
using tractor-trailers to move large loads of
smuggled aliens, hoping to blend in among the
increased truck traffic along the southwest
border. Other smugglers have established
"legitimate businesses," such as bus
transportation companies and employment agencies,
as covers for their alien smuggling activities.
Some smugglers have developed a network that
includes document vendors, travel agencies,
guides, transportation, and local-area border
smugglers.

Some smugglers are reportedly taking advantage of
the Visa Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP) to smuggle
aliens into the United States.11  Under this
program, nationals from designated countries only
need a valid passport to enter the United States.
According to INS' November 1999 Intelligence
Assessment, smugglers are increasingly
fraudulently using counterfeit or genuine
passports from VWPP countries to smuggle non-VWPP
nationals. For example, INS has reported an
increase in PRC nationals who present themselves
at U.S. ports of entry with high-quality,
fraudulent Japanese passports.12  Also, according
to INS, fraudulent use of stolen or blank VWPP
passports is one of the most serious problems it
faces because these documents are genuine and
their fraudulent use is difficult to detect.
According to INS' November 1999 Intelligence
Assessment, at least 100,000 VWPP passports have
been reported lost or stolen, but the actual
number is unknown.

Smugglers have also capitalized on the elimination
of visa requirements in other countries to smuggle
aliens into the United States. INS has predicted
that these changes may open new routes for aliens
who desire to illegally migrate to the United
States. For example, an October 1999 INS
intelligence report stated that smugglers were
taking advantage of the elimination of Mexico's
visa requirement for Polish nationals.
Apprehensions of Polish nationals increased from
70 in fiscal year 1998 to 231 in fiscal year 1999.

INS has found that smugglers are also engaging in
fraud to facilitate their clients' entry into the
United States. For example, INS' reviews of over
5,000 L-1 visa petitions found that fraud was
readily apparent in over 90 percent of the cases.13
Either the company that the alien was allegedly
going to work for did not exist or the company was
unaware of a petition for the alien. According to
INS' November 1999 Intelligence Assessment, it is
difficult for INS to detect this type of fraud
because it requires INS personnel to visit the
business that petitioned for the alien and verify
the supporting documentation for the visa
petition. Many INS senior managers have reportedly
characterized the abuse of the L-1 visa provision
as "the new wave in alien smuggling."

INS Has Established a Strategy to Deter and
Disrupt Alien Smuggling
INS issued an anti-smuggling strategy in 1997. The
goal of the strategy is to deter and disrupt alien
smuggling at all levels of operation, including
overseas, at the border, and in the interior of
the United States, and to dismantle alien
smuggling organizations. To accomplish this goal,
the strategy contains two major
components-domestic and international.

The strategy's domestic component calls for anti-
smuggling investigative units in INS' Border
Patrol sectors and districts along the southwest
border to coordinate their enforcement activities
to identify, detect, disrupt, and prosecute alien
smuggling organizations. Toward this end, INS is
to

    emphasize the investigations of major
smuggling operations, particularly those tied to
other criminal activity or illegal employment; and
    formalize and institutionalize intraagency
and interagency tactical coordination,
intelligence sharing, and anti-smuggling and
investigative case activities.

INS has determined that most alien smuggling
occurs across the southwest border through major
corridors located in south and central Texas,
southern California, and the Tucson, AZ, areas.
The strategy called for INS to first focus its
anti-smuggling efforts on the South/Central Texas
corridor, which includes INS' McAllen, Laredo, and
Del Rio Border Patrol sectors and its San Antonio,
Harlingen, Dallas, and Houston district offices.
According to INS, a "shift" in smuggling activity
from one area to another would be an indicator
that INS was disrupting alien smuggling
activities.  To implement the strategy, INS
required every INS district and sector to develop
strategic plans.

Within the domestic component, INS' anti-smuggling
strategy states that intelligence collection,
assessment, and dissemination are essential
elements of a coordinated, comprehensive anti-
smuggling program. As a result, in 1997, INS'
Intelligence Program identified improvements that
were necessary for the program to more effectively
support INS' enforcement efforts, including anti-
smuggling. These improvements included optimizing
intelligence collection, analysis, dissemination,
storage, and retrieval by training field staff on
intelligence collection methods and procedures and
developing automated systems for collating,
analyzing, and disseminating the collected
information.

Within the international component, INS' anti-
smuggling strategy calls for interdicting smuggled
aliens as far away from the U.S. border as
possible and to repatriate them when appropriate.
The strategy calls for programs designed to
disrupt alien smuggling in source and transit
countries. INS' responsibilities include (1)
training foreign officials on migration controls,
(2) assisting foreign governments in disrupting
and dismantling alien smuggling organizations, and
(3) aiding the development of laws making alien
smuggling a crime.

Operational and Management Problems Limit
Implementation of the Domestic Strategy
Although INS has had success in conducting some
major smuggling cases using new investigative
tools, its ability to conduct thousands of other
anti-smuggling cases has been hampered by
operational and management problems. INS does not
have mechanisms in place to help ensure that anti-
smuggling units coordinate their cases, such as
having an agencywide automated case tracking and
management system that all investigators can
readily access to determine whether an
investigation on a given target is already open or
has been previously opened. In addition, INS does
not have criteria for determining which
investigations it should open to ensure best use
of its anti-smuggling resources. Further, outcome-
based performance measures of progress toward the
strategy's goals have not been developed. Finally,
INS' Intelligence Program is impeded by a lack of
understanding among field staff on how to report
intelligence information; a lack of staff to
perform intelligence functions at most INS
district offices; and an inefficient and
cumbersome process of organizing data that does
not allow for rapid retrieval and analysis.

INS' Efforts to Implement the Domestic Strategy
During the past 3 years, the number of workyears
devoted to the anti-smuggling investigations has
increased because INS detailed staff from other
investigations to anti-smuggling. In fiscal year
1999, INS completed over 2,000 anti-smuggling
cases nationwide. INS used its newly granted
wiretap authority for high priority investigations
and worked cooperatively with several other law
enforcement agencies. Although INS completed
several major smuggling cases in fiscal year 1999,
and arrested 58 smugglers who were part of 2
separate international smuggling organizations,
implementation of the strategy in the
South/Central Texas corridor has been limited.

Anti-smuggling Staffing and Workload
According to INS officials, the number of
investigators nationwide who were dedicated full-
time to INS' anti-smuggling investigations
increased slightly between fiscal years 1997 and
1999. At the end of fiscal year 1999, INS had 276
investigators assigned to the anti-smuggling
investigations compared to about 245 in fiscal
year 1997-an increase of 13 percent. Of the 276
investigators, approximately 54 percent were in
Border Patrol sectors, and 46 percent were in
district offices.

The number of workyears14 devoted to anti-smuggling
investigations increased 29 percent, from 313
workyears in fiscal year 1997 to 404 in fiscal
year 1999. INS officials stated that the increase
in workyears resulted from detailing investigators
from other types of investigations (e.g., fraud,
criminal alien, or worksite) to anti-smuggling
cases. The 404 workyears spent on anti-smuggling
investigations in fiscal year 1999 represented
about 14 percent of the 2,800 workyears spent on
all investigative activities.

As shown in figure 2, the amount of time spent on
anti-smuggling activities was relatively stable
between fiscal years 1992 and 1996 and has
increased since INS announced its Anti-Smuggling
Strategy in 1997.

Figure 2: Anti-smuggling Workyears Fiscal Years
1992 through 1999

Note:  Includes actual time spent by INS agents
and support staff on investigations targeting
individuals or organizations involved in alien
smuggling.  These investigative staff could be
assigned to anti-smuggling activities full-time or
detailed to cases for short periods of time
throughout the year.

Source: GAO analysis of INS data.

According to INS program officials, the increase
in full-time resources devoted to alien smuggling
was not commensurate with the increase in the
growth of alien smuggling.  In addition, because
agents were detailed from other areas to work on
anti-smuggling cases, other INS investigations
were delayed or not done.

INS' workload data show that anti-smuggling
investigators opened 2,369 cases and completed
2,031 cases in fiscal year 1999. Of the completed
cases, it is unclear how many were Category I
investigations.  They are defined as
investigations that target sophisticated,
organized crime syndicates whose primary illegal
activity is large-scale smuggling, transportation,
or harboring of illegal aliens into or through the
United States. These organizations reportedly
operate over multiple districts, sectors, or
regions, and their sophistication is such that
traditional investigative techniques will not
dismantle or disrupt their operations.

According to INS headquarters officials, in fiscal
year 1999, they approved five of nine requests by
field offices for Category I investigations. At
the end of fiscal year 1999, the officials said
there were seven ongoing and three completed
Category I investigations. However, according to
INS' automated workload database, which contains
data input by field anti-smuggling offices, 121
investigations, or 6 percent of the total
completed investigations in fiscal year 1999, were
Category I.  INS headquarters officials told us
that the discrepancy between headquarters' and the
field's count of completed Category I cases was
due to field units incorrectly categorizing their
cases. They said that field units might not have
been aware that Category I cases can only be
designated by headquarters.  The officials told us
that they have notified field offices of these
discrepancies, and that field offices are
responsible for amending data in INS' automated
workload database.  However, many field offices
have not done so.

Category II and Category III15 cases, which are
designated as such by the field offices that have
responsibility for inputting data to the workload
database, represented 23 percent and 71 percent,
respectively, of all anti-smuggling investigations
completed in fiscal year 1999. Task force
investigations, which involve other law
enforcement agencies, represented about 4 percent
of completed investigations that same year.  While
Category III investigations accounted for the
largest portion of completed investigations,
Category I and II investigations consumed the
majority of investigative time (about 68 percent
of workyears in fiscal year 1999).

Anti-smuggling Results
INS headquarters officials told us that they did
not have information on the results of the three
Category I investigations completed in fiscal year
1999. Of the 7 investigations that were ongoing at
the end of fiscal year 1999, 2 had produced 62
arrests as of February 2000. These investigations
were the first ones in which INS funded and
staffed wiretaps.16  One investigation took place
on the northern border and one on the southern
border of the United States. INS cooperated with
several federal, state, and overseas law
enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the
Internal Revenue Service, the Postal Inspection
Service, the Customs Service, State, and the
Office of the U.S. Attorney. According to INS,
Operation Seek and Keep along the southern border
dismantled the largest alien smuggling
organization in U.S. history, and Operation Over
the Rainbow II broke up the largest global alien
smuggling operation on the northern border.

    Operation Seek and Keep involved the
investigation of an international alien smuggling
and money laundering ring that brought in an
estimated 10,000 illegal aliens to the United
States and generated nearly $22 million in
proceeds over a 3-year period. This organization
smuggled aliens who were nationals of Ecuador,
India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria. According
to INS, a hallmark of this investigation was the
cooperation and coordination among several U.S.
and overseas law enforcement agencies. INS
intercepted about 35,000 telephone calls while the
wiretap was in operation. As of January 2000, the
investigation cost about $4 million and resulted
in 24 arrests, including the head of the
organization. According to INS, Operation Seek and
Keep effectively dismantled the smuggling
organization.

    Operation Over the Rainbow II was INS' first
investigation of a large-scale, international
alien smuggling organization along the northern
border. The organization smuggled an estimated
3,600 Chinese nationals during 1997 and 1998
through Canada and the St. Regis Mohawk Territory
(Akwesasne). INS estimated the smugglers' proceeds
over this 2-year period to be $170 million.
According to INS and U.S. Attorney officials
involved in the investigation, coordination among
law enforcement agencies on both sides of the
border was key to dismantling the North America
portion of this international smuggling
organization. INS coordinated their investigation
with several federal agencies as well as the St.
Regis Mohawk Tribal Police, New York State Police,
Toronto Police Service, and the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police. INS also conducted a wiretap
during the investigation, which led to the arrest
of 38 individuals and produced hundreds of leads
relating to other illegal activities.

Other INS alien smuggling investigations have also
resulted in the arrest, prosecution, and
conviction of alien smugglers. During fiscal year
1999, INS prosecution data indicate that over
40,000 smuggled aliens and about 4,100 smugglers
were arrested. As a result of these arrests, in
fiscal year 1999, the Office of the U.S. Attorney
prosecuted almost 2,000 smugglers; of these,
almost 1,200, or 61 percent, were convicted. These
convicted smugglers received an average sentence
of 10 months and average fine of $140.17 According
to INS officials, most of the smuggled Mexican
nationals are returned to Mexico. Those from other
countries were either detained or released.

Limited Implementation of Strategy in Primary
Target Corridor
INS has not fully implemented its strategy in
South/Central Texas, the primary target corridor.
Although one of the strategy's goals was to
coordinate existing enforcement operations within
the corridor, district and sector anti-smuggling
units within the South/Central Texas corridor
continued to operate autonomously. As a result,
INS has not mounted a coordinated effort to combat
alien smuggling in the South/Central Texas
corridor. Of the 2,031 anti-smuggling cases that
INS completed in fiscal year 1999, 322 were in the
sectors and districts that comprise INS'
South/Central Texas corridor.

At the end of our fieldwork in February 2000, INS
officials told us that the four districts and
three Border Patrol sectors in the corridor were
reviewing their unit strategic plans. Further,
they were beginning to develop a plan to
coordinate their investigative activities within
the corridor. According to INS officials, a
supervisory agent was to be detailed to oversee
the corridor strategy and an anti-smuggling
conference was being planned.

Headquarters and regional INS officials told us
that progress in the South/Central Texas corridor
was limited because their investigative resources
were concentrated on two major, interregional
smuggling cases. The officials also said that
significant budget restrictions have hampered the
INS' ability to continue supporting complex,
sophisticated alien smuggling investigations
because these investigations are labor-intensive
and costly. For example, as of January 2000, INS
had reportedly spent about $4 million for
Operation Seek and Keep, which was in the targeted
corridor and included purchasing wiretap
equipment, setting up listening posts, and
contracting for translation services. According to
INS' midyear review of its fiscal year 1999 Annual
Performance Plan, "INS will be hard-pressed to
provide the necessary resources to properly
complete existing investigations much less
initiate new cases which would require a funding
level not available at this time."

Impediments to Implementation of the Strategy
INS' ability to implement the domestic component
of its strategy is impeded by several factors.
First, INS does not have procedures in place to
coordinate resources for initiating and managing
anti-smuggling cases. Second, INS does not have an
agencywide automated case tracking and management
system to help determine when and where
investigations are taking place. Third, INS does
not have a performance measurement system that
measures progress toward the strategy's goals.

INS Operations Not Coordinated; Criteria for
Opening Investigations
Unclear
Although many INS anti-smuggling units share
geographic jurisdictions, our fieldwork along the
southwest border revealed that these border units
have generally not coordinated their investigative
activities, as called for in the strategy and in
INS' Annual Performance Plan. INS' anti-smuggling
units, funded through INS' Investigations Program,
are located in both INS districts and Border
Patrol sectors. Although these anti-smuggling
units may share jurisdictions and may be located
in the same cities, they report through different
chains of command-the Border Patrol sector unit
reports to the Border Patrol chief patrol agent,
and the district unit reports to the district
director.18 Headquarters, district, and sector
officials told us that coordination among anti-
smuggling units, especially units that share
geographic jurisdictions, is difficult because the
district director and sector chief may not agree
on priority investigative targets or tactical
approaches, among other things.

Anti-smuggling units along the southwest border
operate autonomously and are not required to
notify or consult with other anti-smuggling units
before starting or while conducting
investigations.  However, there are two
exceptions, according to INS officials.  First,
under INS' anti-smuggling strategy, INS' Executive
Associate Commissioner for Field Operations can
designate certain investigations as having the
highest priority.  Such cases are called
"nationally designated" cases.  INS is to notify
all INS field offices of these investigations and
requires field offices to submit any information
they have on the targets of the investigation to
the INS office leading the investigation.
According to INS officials, INS headquarters
closely monitors these investigations through
regular reporting and frequent contact between
Investigations program officials and the INS field
office leading the investigation.  The second
exception is "high-profile Category I
investigations," which require headquarters
approval. INS' headquarters anti-smuggling office
is responsible for monitoring and funding cases
that involve multiple regions, wiretap authority,
and undercover operations.

INS managers did not have clear criteria for
deciding which anti-smuggling investigations to
open or a coordinated mechanism to manage the over
2,300 investigations opened  nationwide in fiscal
year 1999. INS' headquarters anti-smuggling office
is not in the chain of command to direct or
oversee these cases. INS supervisory agents in two
different units in the same geographical area
could have completely different investigative
priorities and tactics. Lacking criteria for
determining which are the highest priority
investigations to open, and without a requirement
for units within the same jurisdiction to
coordinate their anti-smuggling enforcement
efforts, opportunities exist for inconsistent
decisionmaking and duplication of effort.

INS headquarters and regional officials told us
that achieving the strategy's goals of targeting
major investigations and coordinating enforcement
operations has been difficult because district and
sector anti-smuggling units do not report through
a single chain of command. They said that
communication between sectors and districts,
outside of the few, headquarters-designated, high-
profile cases, is sporadic.  According to INS'
Investigations Program officials, the autonomy of
the individual anti-smuggling field units and the
lack of a single chain of command are major
obstacles to a more effective anti-smuggling
program.

INS Lacks Agencywide, Automated Case Management
System
Unlike federal law enforcement agencies such as
the Drug Enforcement Administration, INS does not
have an agencywide, automated case tracking and
management system that maintains data on
individuals and organizations that are or have
been the target of investigations. INS district
and sector agents are to report how many
investigations they have opened and closed
monthly, but they need not report the names of
individuals or organizations they investigated,
the status of case activity, or the results
achieved. When anti-smuggling agents open an
investigation, they do not have a system to check
whether any other INS unit has undertaken an
investigation of that individual or organization.

INS officials told us that the lack of a case
tracking and management system has, on occasion,
led to duplicate investigations. In one instance,
they found that two anti-smuggling units were
investigating the same organization. The
duplicative investigations were uncovered when the
two offices submitted requests for undercover
operations to headquarters and a headquarters
staff person recognized the duplication.

Because INS does not have an agencywide, automated
database of anti-smuggling investigations, INS
headquarters cannot determine how many high
priority cases targeting sophisticated, well-
organized smuggling organizations it could have
identified and investigated in fiscal year 1999.
Given the geographic dispersion of INS' anti-
smuggling units and the many hundreds of anti-
smuggling investigations that are open at one
time, an agencywide, automated case tracking and
management system would better enable INS
headquarters and other offices to recognize
whether multiple anti-smuggling units are
targeting the same smuggler or smuggling
organization. This would, in turn, enable INS
officials to better detect large-scale smuggling
operations and instigate investigations that held
greater potential for leading to major smuggling
organizations.

INS officials told us that there have been
instances in which targeted individuals had been
investigated by INS in the past, but the officials
were not aware of this when they began their
investigation. INS district and sector
investigators told us that these situations were
not uncommon occurrences.

Outcome Measures for Anti-smuggling Not
Established
To assess its progress in implementing its anti-
smuggling strategy, INS set the following two
numeric anti-smuggling goals in the Annual
Performance Plan for fiscal year 1999:

    present 7 major interregional alien smuggling
cases for criminal prosecution to disrupt and
dismantle smuggling organizations and
    present 1,460 smugglers for prosecution for
alien smuggling-related violations.

INS officials told us that they had met their
fiscal year 1999 goals. They said INS presented 7
major interregional cases and 1,967 smugglers for
prosecution for alien smuggling-related
violations.

Although INS met the anti-smuggling goals that it
set out in its fiscal year 1999 Annual Performance
Plan, it has not developed outcome-based measures
that would indicate progress made toward achieving
the strategy's objectives of identifying,
deterring, disrupting, and dismantling alien
smuggling. In its fiscal year 1999 Annual
Performance Plan, INS said it would develop
measures that would enable it to track the
strategy's impact on alien smuggling, for example,
a "shift in smuggling corridors." However, no such
measures were developed in fiscal year 1999. Nor
did INS collect systematic data on other
indicators of the strategy's impacts, such as
changes in smuggling fees, usage, or tactics.

INS' fiscal year 2000 Annual Performance Plan
reiterated INS' intent to collect baseline data to
track the "deterrence and disruption of alien
smuggling." As of February 2000, INS had not
specified what measures it will use to assess
whether the strategies' objectives are being met.

Obstacles to INS' Having an Effective Intelligence
Program
INS' domestic strategy cites the need for an
intelligence program that optimizes the
collection, analysis, and dissemination of
intelligence information. However, INS'
Intelligence Program lacks some of the key
building blocks of an effective program.

According to INS Intelligence Program officials
and other information we obtained,19 an effective
intelligence program should include the following
elements:

    Polices and procedures for reporting
intelligence information that are clear to field
staff and a mechanism for providing feedback to
field staff on the usefulness of their reports to
improve and encourage future reporting.
    Sufficient intelligence staff in INS field
locations to collect, collate, and analyze
information obtained from INS field staff and
other sources.
    Organization of all relevant data in a
centralized database that allows for rapid
retrieval and analysis and relationships between
apparently disconnected data to be established.

We found that (1) INS field staff were unclear
about policies and procedures for reporting
intelligence information, (2) most of INS' 33
district offices did not have any full-time
intelligence staff, and (3) analyzing intelligence
reports was cumbersome and inefficient. These
impediments have limited the Intelligence
Program's ability to effectively support INS'
enforcement efforts.

Field Staff Unclear on Intelligence Reporting
Requirements
A 1998 Intelligence Program survey found that INS
field office enforcement personnel were unclear
about guidelines, procedures, and effective
techniques for gathering, analyzing, and
disseminating intelligence information. The survey
respondents indicated that they generally did not
receive feedback on the usefulness of their
intelligence reports and did not know whether
their reports were useful. The Intelligence
Program's report on the survey results stated that
intelligence-related training was critically
needed.

INS' fiscal year 1999 Annual Performance Plan
report stated that INS' Intelligence Program
provided intelligence-related training to about
7,800 field staff in fiscal year 1999. According
to one district's training materials, the 1-day
training session covered the importance of INS
intelligence operations and the process for
reporting intelligence information. INS plans call
for additional intelligence training in fiscal
year 2000.

According to INS intelligence officials, the
quantity and quality of intelligence information
provided by field personnel has been inconsistent.
They cited several reasons for this inconsistency.
For example, one district intelligence official
told us that intelligence reporting by inspectors
at a port of entry in his district declined during
1999 because a shortage of inspectors necessitated
that inspector personnel spend their duty time "on
the line," thus retricting their ability to
prepare intelligence reports. In addition, he said
that his district lacked intelligence staff to
interview smuggled aliens in INS detention
facilities to obtain further intelligence about
smuggling operations.

In December 1995, the Intelligence Program
proposed that each INS district office have an
intelligence unit.20  INS' June 1998 Standard
Operating Procedures for district intelligence
offices stated that the primary duty of the
district intelligence office is to collect and
analyze information to inform district management
of any changes that may affect INS operations.

As of January 2000, 21 of INS' 33 district offices
did not have anyone assigned full-time to
intelligence-related duties. In fiscal years 1998
and 1999, INS requested, but did not receive,
additional positions for its Intelligence Program.
In both years, INS' Annual Performance Plan
reports stated that collection, reporting, and
analysis of intelligence information were hampered
by the lack of personnel to perform them.

Analysis of Intelligence Information Is Cumbersome
and Inefficient
INS cannot retrieve and analyze intelligence
information rapidly or efficiently. This is
because intelligence reports are written in a
narrative format that is cumbersome to analyze.
INS has not fully deployed an automated system
that can readily analyze the data, and some
intelligence information is not automated at all.
In addition, INS does not require field staff to
use available mechanisms that would facilitate
analysis of intelligence information.

Procedures state that INS personnel should submit
intelligence information in a narrative report on
Form G-392.  The report is to be sent
electronically to various locations, including
intelligence officials at INS' three regions, INS
headquarters, and EPIC. At INS headquarters, the
narrative information is to be copied into a
database, Orion NetLEADS. Although INS intends the
Orion system to be its primary intelligence
reporting and analysis tool, as of February 2000,
INS' use of the system was limited.

None of the nearly 8,000 intelligence reports
received by INS' headquarters Intelligence office
in fiscal year 1999 was converted from a narrative
to a database format.  The reports were simply
copied into the Orion system in the same narrative
format in which they were originally created. As a
result, the reports could only be searched for
keywords.  According to an INS intelligence
official, this type of search results in a list of
potentially hundreds of intelligence reports,
which an analyst must review one by one.  This is
a cumbersome and an inefficient method of
analysis.

To fully utilize the capabilities of the Orion
system, information must be entered using a
database format in which each piece of information
(e.g., name, address, telephone number, and
vehicle license plate number) is entered in a
separate data field. According to a headquarters
Intelligence Program official, the narrative
reports were not converted to database format
because competing work demands required program
staff to work on other tasks, such as intelligence
planning, analysis, and report writing. At the end
of fiscal year 1999, the Orion software was
installed on 144 computers in INS field locations
and from 1 to 3 individuals were authorized to use
the software of each computer. Most of INS' 20,000
field staff did not have access to the Orion
system. According to an INS Intelligence Program
official, the Intelligence Program did not have
the $250,000 necessary to purchase a license that
would allow INS to deploy the system servicewide.

INS has other automated methods for reporting
intelligence information, but they do not have the
analytic capabilities of the Orion system. For
example, for field sites without access to the
Orion system, INS developed a template for
creating intelligence reports using off-the-shelf
database software. According to INS officials, all
field staff can use this method to create
intelligence reports beginning February 2000. If
field staff use this method, the data can be
readily entered into the Orion system for
analysis. However, according to an INS
Intelligence Program official, although INS has
several methods for preparing intelligence reports
in a database format, staff are not required to
use any of them. They can still use the narrative
format.

INS procedures require that personnel send both
intelligence and alien smuggling incident reports
to EPIC. These reports can be used by EPIC's Alien
Intelligence Unit to develop intelligence about
alien smuggling.  During our visit to EPIC,
officials told us that they had a backlog of
nearly 25,000 alien smuggling incident reports
submitted by INS that were either handwritten or
typed. They said that they had not automated these
data because EPIC lacked sufficient staff to do
so.  According to an INS official, policies and
procedures need to be updated to require staff to
use a database method for preparing both
intelligence and alien smuggling incident reports
so they could be efficiently analyzed.

Outcome Measures for Intelligence Program Not
Established
INS' 1999 Annual Performance Plan states that the
goal of the Intelligence Program is to assist INS'
enforcement mission through improved intelligence
support.  The plan established a number of output-
related goals, including producing an INS
Intelligence Assessment, deploying the Orion
system to 60 additional locations, increasing
intelligence training for field staff, and
providing investigative leads to field
investigative units. According to INS, it met or
exceeded all of these goals. The Intelligence
Program

    issued an overall intelligence assessment in
November 1999,
    deployed the Orion system to an additional
141 locations,
    provided training to nearly 8,000 field
staff, and
    provided about 19,000 investigative leads.

However, the extent to which these outputs
contributed to the Intelligence Program's goal of
optimizing the collection, analysis, and
dissemination of intelligence information is not
clear. INS has not developed outcome-based
performance measures to gauge the success of the
program in these areas.

Obstacles Impede International Activities From
Having Long-Term Impact
INS' strategy for combating alien smuggling calls
for INS to conduct operations that disrupt alien
smuggling in foreign countries to prevent
undocumented aliens from reaching the United
States. In cooperation with foreign governments,
INS and the State Department conducted short-term
operations resulting in the interception of
thousands of illegal aliens destined for the
United States and the arrest and/or prosecution of
alien smugglers. Although INS has not conducted an
evaluation of the long-term effects of these
operations on alien smuggling, the effect of these
operations appears short-lived.  Corruption among
foreign government officials and the lack of laws
in some countries making alien smuggling a crime
have been cited as allowing alien smugglers to
continue to operate.

Overseas Activities Designed to Disrupt Alien
Smuggling
In 1995, INS began to conduct operations intended
to disrupt alien smuggling overseas. In 1996, INS
formalized these operations into Operation Global
Reach, a cooperative, multiyear initiative with
foreign governments and international air
carriers, whose goal is to disrupt alien smuggling
overseas. During fiscal year 1999, INS overseas
staff spent about 28 staff years on enforcement-
related activities, including anti-smuggling.

Between August 1995 and November 1999, INS
conducted operations intended to disrupt alien
smuggling in 34 countries located in Latin
America, the Caribbean, and Asia. Most of the
operations lasted about 30 to 60 days. Activities
conducted during these operations included

    training about 8,400 foreign law enforcement
authorities and international air carrier
personnel how to identify fraudulent U.S. entry
documents,
    providing host country governments with
assistance in prosecuting alien smugglers and
those who sell fraudulent documents, and
    assisting host country governments in
intercepting illegal aliens destined for the
United States.

INS and the State Department have both provided
funds for the return to their home countries of
illegal aliens destined for the United States and
apprehended in foreign countries. During fiscal
year 1999, INS funded the return of nearly 3,000
undocumented aliens who were intercepted by
foreign countries. Between 1996 and 1999, the
State Department spent about $676,000 for the
return of about 800 smuggled aliens apprehended by
foreign countries. A State Department official
told us that other countries would be willing to
intercept and return smuggled aliens they may
encounter, but these countries lack the needed
funds. According to this official, the State
Department lacks sufficient funds to assist all
countries that are willing to return intercepted
aliens to their home countries before they reach
the United States.

Obstacles Impeding Overseas Deterrence Efforts
Although international operations helped to train
foreign officials, intercept aliens, and cultivate
relationships between INS and host country
officials, INS reports indicate that alien
smuggling appeared to have reverted to previous
levels once the operations ended. Two major
obstacles were reported to us as impeding efforts
to deter alien smuggling in foreign countries.

According to INS, corruption among foreign
government officials and airline personnel within
the illegal alien source and transit countries is
a significant threat to INS operations. INS'
November 1999 Intelligence Assessment stated that
smugglers have reportedly corrupted senior-level
officials as well as officials in key positions,
such as immigration officials at airports and
border checkpoints. The report stated the People's
Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China
reportedly has ties to Chinese organized crime
groups involved in alien smuggling. The report
also stated that few governments have shown a
willingness to vigorously prosecute offenders
because, in many cases, corruption has reached the
highest levels.  The report concluded that
official corruption facilitates alien smuggling,
thereby negating the effect of initiatives to
deter the smuggling.

INS identified corrupt officials and employees
during various international operations. For
example, in 1 Central American country, INS
enforcement personnel identified corrupt
immigration employees and supervisors at an
airport and had information suggesting that 2
judges and 17 other immigration officials may have
been involved. In a Caribbean nation, the director
of immigration dismissed over 70 immigration
employees and had many of them arrested as a
result of information developed by the disrupt
operation team.  INS reports indicated that in
some countries, honest officials feel powerless to
combat alien smuggling because their jobs and/or
their lives are threatened by widespread
government corruption. In some other countries,
according to the reports, the government has
recognized the problem of corruption and has been
trying to root it out.

The second major obstacle is the lack of alien
smuggling laws in some countries. Of Mexico and
the seven Central American countries, only Mexico,
Honduras, and Panama have laws with associated
fines and/or imprisonment for alien smuggling.
Other countries either expel the smuggler or have
no penalty at all.  INS and State Department
officials told us that without laws against alien
smuggling, alien smugglers will continue to
operate and negate the effect of other initiatives
to disrupt alien smuggling.

INS' Overseas Performance Goals Met, But Appear to
Have Little Lasting Impact
To gauge its effectiveness in disrupting alien
smuggling and preventing illegal aliens from
entering the United States, INS established
several performance goals. Although the goals were
met in fiscal year 1999, INS itself does not
believe that its overseas efforts have produced
long-term impacts.

INS' fiscal year 1999 Annual Performance Plan sets
out the measures by which INS would assess its
performance overseas. INS.  INS accomplished the
following in addressing these measures:

    INS exceeded its goal of helping to intercept
about 8,000 undocumented aliens destined for the
United States. In fiscal year 1999, INS helped
foreign countries intercept about 9,000 such
aliens.  INS estimated that it would have incurred
nearly $1 million in detention costs had these
aliens reached the United States.
    INS exceeded its goal of assisting foreign
countries in repatriating 200 undocumented aliens.
In fiscal year 1999, INS helped repatriate nearly
3,000 such aliens.
    INS slightly exceeded its goal of assisting
in 106 prosecutions. In fiscal year 1999, INS
assisted in 119 prosecutions.

According to INS reports on various overseas
operations, its efforts led to the (1) arrest of
several major alien smugglers and document vendors
in one Caribbean nation, (2) arrest of one of
Central America's biggest alien smugglers, and (3)
apprehension and removal of 2,011 aliens from a
Central American country as well as the arrest of
13 alien smugglers and the prosecution of 22
others for possessing fraudulent documents.

INS' informal information-gathering indicates that
the effects of the overseas disruption operations
have been short-lived. According to an INS report,
after one operation conducted in five Central
American countries ended, the number of
undocumented aliens arriving at four key U.S.
airports from those countries reverted to nearly
the level it was before the operation. According
to another report, the impact of the training that
INS personnel provided to foreign air carrier and
law enforcement personnel diminished within a few
months. INS believes that the personnel they have
trained do not receive continued encouragement and
support to perform their jobs professionally and,
therefore, revert to their old practices.

Conclusions
Without improvements in its investigations and
intelligence programs, INS' anti-smuggling efforts
will continue to be hampered in the face of the
growing tide of aliens entering the United States
with the aid of smuggling organizations. Alien
smuggling investigative efforts have been
fragmented and uncoordinated. Other than for the
nationally designated and other "high-profile"
cases, INS does not have criteria for determining
which investigations it should open. Therefore,
INS does not know if its investigative resources
are focused on the highest priority cases. INS
also lacks an agencywide, automated case tracking
and management system that contains basic data on
individuals and organizations targeted by current
and previous investigations. Such a case tracking
and management system would help alleviate the
problem of duplicative investigations, facilitate
the sharing of intelligence information on
targeted organizations and individuals, and
provide information to INS managers about where
and how their resources are being deployed.

To date, INS has used performance indicators such
as the number of major investigations and persons
presented for prosecution under the alien
smuggling statute. These indicators measure
program outputs, but they do not provide
information on the extent to which INS' anti-
smuggling efforts have helped achieve the
strategy's objective of deterring and disrupting
alien smuggling. INS has outlined other expected
results from its strategy, such as an increase in
the sophistication of smuggling methods and/or a
shift in smuggling corridors. However, INS has not
specified how these results will be measured. We
recognize that it is difficult to directly measure
outcomes such as deterrence and disruption of anti-
smuggling. However, we believe that there are a
variety of measures available-including
information on smuggling fees, usage, and tactics,
and shifts in the flow of smuggled alien
traffic-that could be used to collect systematic
data and develop a composite picture of progress
toward achieving the strategy's objectives.

INS' intelligence efforts lack several of the key
building blocks necessary for the program to
support INS' anti-smuggling efforts. INS'
procedures for reporting intelligence information
have been inefficient because they have failed to
take advantage of advances in electronic
information processing. Until INS converts from a
narrative to a database format for reporting
intelligence information, the retrieval, analysis,
and dissemination of intelligence information will
remain problematic.

The above impediments make it difficult, if not
impossible, for INS to meet the challenges posed
by increasingly sophisticated major smuggling
organizations.

Recommendations
We recommend that the INS Commissioner

    establish criteria for opening an anti-
smuggling case to help ensure that INS' anti-
smuggling resources are focused on the highest
priority cases;
    establish a cost-effective case tracking and
management system of alien smuggling
investigations that is automated, agencywide, and
readily available to investigative personnel and
program managers to facilitate the sharing of case
information and prevent duplication of effort;
    establish performance measures for the anti-
smuggling efforts and intelligence program with
which to gauge program effects; and
    require that intelligence reports be prepared
using a database format so the information can be
systematically analyzed.

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation
We requested comments on a draft of this report
from the Attorney General, the Secretary of State,
and the Secretary of Transportation.

The Department of Justice had no comments on the
draft report. However, INS Intelligence and
Investigations officials provided oral comments in
a meeting on April 19, 2000. The INS officials
also provided technical comments, which we
incorporated as appropriate.  Overall, the INS
officials agreed with our conclusions and
recommendations and said they are already taking
several actions to address them.

    With respect to establishing criteria for
opening an anti-smuggling case, INS plans to
develop in fiscal year 2001 a comprehensive policy
regarding the criteria for opening an anti-
smuggling case, including clarifying that Category
I cases can only be designated by INS
headquarters.

    With respect to developing an automated case
tracking and management system, INS has under
development an Enforcement Case Tracking System
which, among other things, is to be used to track
and manage all INS investigations.  INS expects to
complete system deployment by the end of fiscal
year 2001.  At that time, anti-smuggling case
information should be available to all
investigative personnel and program managers.
    Regarding anti-smuggling performance
measures, INS is developing a plan for measuring
"shifts" in alien smuggling, which it intends to
complete by the end of fiscal year 2000 and
implement in fiscal year 2001.
    With respect to intelligence reporting, INS
plans to complete deployment by the end of fiscal
year 2002 of the software that is to allow
intelligence information to be collected in a
database format.

Although these are steps in the right direction,
they will have to be effectively implemented
before INS fully responds to the concerns raised
in this report. For example, as we reported in
1997,21 a variety of indicators may be useful to
evaluate the effects of INS' anti-smuggling
strategy.  We therefore encourage INS to identify
additional performance measures to gauge the
strategy's effectiveness.  Further, as it deploys
its case tracking and management system and
intelligence software, standardized policies and
procedures and appropriate resources could help
promote effective data collection and analysis and
help INS respond to any challenges that occur.

On April 7, 2000, the Acting Director of the State
Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and
Law Enforcement Affairs provided oral comments on
our draft report. Regarding our finding on
coordination problems, he stated that in September
1998, the Bureau proposed establishing an
interagency Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking
Coordination Center.  Such a center was intended
to coordinate federal efforts to combat alien
smuggling and serve as the focal point for
intelligence on alien smuggling and trafficking
activities.  Because our focus was on the Attorney
General's strategy to deter and disrupt alien
smuggling, we did not evaluate the issues
associated with establishing such an interagency
coordination mechanism or its potential impact on
the issues raised in this report.

Transportation had no comment on our draft report.

We are sending copies of this report to the
Honorable Janet Reno, Attorney General; the
Honorable Doris Meissner, Commissioner,
Immigration and Naturalization Service; the
Honorable Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State;
and other interested parties. We will also make
copies available to others upon request.

The major contributors to this report are
acknowledged in appendix I. If you or your staff
have any questions concerning this report, please
call
Evi L. Rezmovic or me on (202) 512-8777.

Richard M. Stana
Associate Director, Administration of
  Justice Issues
_______________________________
1 We have issued three previous reports in
response to this mandate: Illegal Immigration:
Southwest Border Strategy Results Inconclusive;
More Evaluation Needed (GAO/GGD-98-21, Dec. 11,
1997); Illegal Aliens: Significant Obstacles to
Reducing Unauthorized Employment Exist (GAO/GGD-99-
33, Apr. 2, 1999); and Illegal Immigration: Status
of Southwest Border Strategy Implementation
(GAO/GGD-99-44, May 19, 1999).
2 These reports are mandated by the Illegal
Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility
Act of 1996 (1996 Act), Public Law 104-208.
3 INS is organized into 33 district offices in the
United States, 3 located in foreign countries, and
21 Border Patrol sectors.
4 We do not know how much money INS spent on anti-
smuggling activities because INS' Investigations
Program budget-which was approximately $301
million in fiscal year 1999-was not broken out
into subprogram budget amounts.
5 This budget does not include staff who perform
intelligence activities in districts and sectors.
These staff are funded by other INS programs.
6 These data on International Affairs personnel in
INS' overseas offices do not include staff
detailed from INS offices in the United States.
7 Fraud and Illegal Entry to the United States:
Year 2002 Planning (Washington, D.C.: Immigration
and Naturalization Service, Nov. 15, 1999).
8 INS data track the number of smuggled aliens
apprehended by the Border Patrol as well as those
apprehended at U.S. ports of entry. Smuggled
aliens include, for example, aliens found hidden
in vehicles or other conveyances.
9Between fiscal years 1991 and 1997, the number of
Coast Guard interdictions fluctuated, ranging from
about 5,000 in fiscal year 1991 to over 64,000 in
1994.  There were no 2 consecutive years over this
period in which the number of interdictions either
increased or deceased.
10Between fiscal years 1991 and 1997, the number of
PRC nationals interdicted by the Coast Guard
fluctuated, ranging from 61 in fiscal year 1996 to
about 2,500 in fiscal year 1993.
11Under  8 U.S.C. 1187, VWPP allows nationals from
certain countries designated by the Attorney
General, in consultation with the Secretary of
State, to enter the United States without a
nonimmigrant  visa. Unlike most foreign nationals,
these nationals do not have to obtain a visa from
the United States consulate.
12 Japan is a VWPP country.
13 An L-1 visa allows an alien to work for a U.S.
business in a managerial capacity.  Businesses
must submit a visa petition with INS.
14 INS tracks staff workyears reported through its
Performance Analysis System to determine the level
of effort devoted to specific investigative
activities.
15 Category II cases generally involve smaller
scale smuggling activity than Category I cases.
For example, a Category II smuggler would
transport aliens less than 100 miles from the
border, transport from 100 to 250 aliens, and use
accomplices in their smuggling activities.
Category III cases typically include freelance
operators who smuggle infrequently or
independently, or nonprofessional violators who
smuggle relatives, household employees, or
employees of small businesses.
16 Congress empowered the Attorney General to
authorize wiretap applications in cases relating
to alien smuggling in section 201 of the Illegal
Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility
Act of 1996.  This section, which is codified at
18 U.S.C. 2516 (1) (m), allows for the
interception of oral or wire communications upon
approval of a judge.
17 The data on sentences and fines imposed
represent the mean of prosecution data input by
INS field offices into the Performance Analysis
System, Report of Prosecutions.
18 Both the district directors and Border Patrol
chief patrol agents report to one of three
regional directors, who in turn, report to the INS
Executive Associate Commissioner for Field
Operations.
19 S.R. Schneider, The Criminal Intelligence
Function: Toward a Comprehensive and Normative
Model, International Association of Law
Enforcement Analysts, 1998.
20 Proposal to Reengineer the Service Intelligence
Program (Washington, D.C.: INS Office of
Intelligence, Dec. 27, 1995).
21 GAO/GGD-98-21.

Appendix I
GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments
Page 34             GAO/GGD-00-103 Alien Smuggling
GAO Contacts
     Richard M. Stana, (202) 512-8777
Evi L. Rezmovic, (202) 512-2580

Acknowledgments
In addition to the persons named above, Mike Dino,
Nancy Kawahara, Hector Wong, and Mike Kassack made
key contributions to this report.

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