Transparency & accountability

High-ranking former U.S. agent accused of colluding with Mexican drug groups

Richard Cramer, a former high-ranking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, was arrested on suspicion of assisting a drug group in smuggling cocaine into the United States. Cramer, who formerly led the Nogales ICE office, faces charges of corruption and cocaine trafficking.

Cramer was arrested at his Arizona home on September 4. He had retired from ICE in January, 2007 after spending the last few years of his professional career as the ICE attaché in Guadalajara. During his time in Mexico, Cramer allegedly provided assistance to drug traffickers, according to federal investigators.The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said Cramer had DEA agents run background checks on confidential informants for the drug traffickers he worked with, according to The Arizona Republic. The New York Times reported that Cramer and the drug group were connected to a 660-pound shipment of cocaine that was traced from Panama through the United States on its way to Spain. The cocaine was confiscated in Spain in June 2007. The Associated Press (AP)reported that a member of the drug group suggested Cramer retire from the agency and work directly with their drug smuggling and money laundering operations. Cramer is to be extradited to Florida to face charges in connection with the investigation there.

A recent report by the AP documented a higher number of U.S. law enforcement officials who work along the border being charged with criminal corruption compared to previous years. The news agency also found more than 80 corruption-related convictions against U.S. law enforcement officials who work on the local, state and federal level.


Anglen, Robert and Gonzalez, Daniel. “Ex-ICE agent accused of cocaine trafficking.” The Arizona Republic September 4, 2009.

Associated Press. “Former agent faces charges in drug case.” Published in The New York Times September 5, 2009.

Mendoza, Martha and Sherman, Christopher. “Border corruption rising on US side.” The Associated Press in The Arizona Daily Star August 10, 2009.

Rotella, Sebastian. “Former U.S. anti-drug official’s arrest ‘a complete shock’.” Los Angeles Times. September 17, 2009.

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