Customs and Border Protection authorities conducted 700 secret inquiries into staff in just three years, two-thirds of which led to adverse findings, raising serious questions about the integrity of the organisation charged with policing the country's borders.
The cases, unearthed by a Fairfax investigation, examined allegations that included the trafficking of weapons and drugs, large-scale fraud and the pilfering of sensitive Customs intelligence.
The allegations are contained in previously classified Internal Affairs records that underscore the enduring vulnerability of the service to infiltration by organised crime, after a recent police taskforce arrested 17 people, including four allegedly corrupt Customs officers.
The files, obtained after a freedom-of-information fight that lasted two years, show senior executives have long known that Customs officials have been linked to groups such as bikie gangs, African crime syndicates, the Italian Mafia and even suspected terrorists.
They also expose the institutional failures and under-resourcing that have gravely compromised Customs' ability to properly investigate itself over the past decade.
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