Investigation suggests complaints of abuse by border officers were ignored Video

Transcript for Investigation suggests complaints of abuse by border officers were ignored

Reporter: Now 7:36 in the evening, and Cruz Velazquez, in the striped shirt, knows his risky gamble to drink from the bottle did not work. You saw that Mr. Velazquez was sweating heavily? I did. I saw that he was shaking, and I thought that he was possibly a body carrier. Reporter: But there still have been no calls for paramedics at this point, as the concentrated methamphetamine the young man swallowed is being digested in his body. He won’t be able to feel it. But his blood pressure is going to be rising. But it’s still going to take a couple of minutes for it to actually get through the wall of your stomach or intestine and into your bloodstream and then from your bloodstream up to your heart and your brain. Reporter: Now, Velazquez is put in handcuffs and a drug-sniffing dog arrives and alerts, indicating he has been in contact with some kind of illegal substance. Even so, as a 16-year-old, Velazquez’s legal jeopardy would not have been so severe, one reason the cartels like to recruit teenagers as their mules. He would’ve probably been — put in custody for three months to six months, and then returned to Mexico. Reporter: But to admit what he has done and return to Mexico and the cartels, could be a death sentence for the young man. And now his body is in panic mode. It’s getting every signal that it can that something bad is happening and that you need to get ready to either run away or fight for your life. Reporter: But there is nowhere to run, he is under the control of border officers whose action or inaction will determine his fate. No one is smiling now, and officer Baird will later reluctantly admit she was concerned he had swallowed liquid methamphetamine after just the first two sips. I — I don’t recall but I’m sure I had some concern, yes. Yes, because if it were liquid methamphetamine, he could get very sick. Correct. Or he could die? Yes? Yes? Correct. Reporter: But at the time, officers Baird and perallon had little to fear for any possible misconduct. Congress and civil rights groups accused the agency of tolerating rogue officers and agents who crossed the line. Within that large organization are many who believe they’re held to a different standard and won’t be held accountable for engaging in misconduct. Reporter: With hundreds of alleged victims, including teenagers travelling without parents, whose complaints were given short shrift. Translator: He told me to take off my bra and he started touching me. Reporter: Just last year, these two sisters who had fled Guatemala to escape violence and seek asylum in the U.S., say they were violated one after the other by a U.S. Border agent, supposedly searching for contraband. Translator: The agent came back with my sister and then said to me, “It’s your turn.” Then he said, “Pull down your underwear. He reached his hand out and put his hand in between my legs. And the worst was when he told me, “Turn around. Bend over.” And I bent over. Reporter: But their complaint, like scores of others, according to the aclu, was quietly closed, when the agent simply denied he did anything wrong. He said, they said and he was the one who was believed. They just take the agents word for it? That’s correct. Reporter: Mitra ebadolahi works in the aclu’s border program in San Diego. So, if the agent says, “I have no knowledge of this.” That’s it. That’s it. I don’t remember that. These are just some of them. There are hundreds and hundreds of complaints filed by unaccompanied minors to your own agency. Reporter: Gil kerlikowske, the commissioner of customs and border protection under the Obama administration, says the complaints only involved a small number of officers and agents. These don’t trouble you? Well, the number of complaints that come in are high. But I’d say under my watch, we’ve increased dramatically our ability to do these investigations. So you don’t see any cover-up of allegations by you or anyone in this agency? Well, I don’t see any cover-up especially by me. Reporter: In the wake of our questions, customs and border protection now says the complaint filed by the two sisters is not closed but remains under investigation. Which will make it a first in over a hundred cases the aclu says it has analyzed. As far as I can tell there has not been a single complete investigation of any of the allegations that I’ve seen. Not even one? Not one. Reporter: Now 7:38 P.M., at the border station in San ysidro, and Cruz Velazquez is led away in handcuffs to a back room, the security office. It’s more than a half hour now since he drank the poison. And there still has been no medical attention for this young man, sweating heavily. He’s really walking into kind of a chemical buzzsaw. That flushed feeling is going to turn into something like a fever, not going to be able to cool down or get comfortable. He should be in the E.R. You think at this point? Ideally, yes. The sooner somebody can get to an emergency room after a situation like this, the better their chances are going to be. So if there’s a delay? A delay is going to be catastrophic. Reporter: It’s 7:43 P.M. And time is running out to save him.

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This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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