Former ICE intelligence chief is among immigration agents under investigation

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By Andrew Becker
Tuesday, February 22, 2011; 8:27 PM

Several agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including the former head of the agency's intelligence office, are subjects of an internal inquiry into alleged personal misconduct, sources say.

James M. Woosley, who was ICE's assistant director for intelligence, was relieved of his position, according to a Department of Homeland Security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing. Several other mid- to low-level ICE employees are also subjects of the investigation. The probe surrounding Woosley has to do with travel receipts and a subordinate, sources said.

Woosley's departure precipitated a shuffle of ICE leadership, with a new intelligence director and a new chief of immigration enforcement and removal operations quickly named. ICE officials announced the changes to employees earlier this month.

ICE spokesman Brian P. Hale said the agency and the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general initiated the probe of alleged misconduct "involving a small number of employees," but he declined to comment further until the investigation is complete.

"Agency programs are unaffected by the investigation, and the office in question will continue normal operations," Hale said in a statement.

Woosley could not be reached for comment.

The personnel changes came about a week before two ICE agents based at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City were shot Feb. 15 as they drove to the capital from Monterrey in northern Mexico. One agent, Jaime Zapata, died from his injuries. Funeral services for Zapata were held Tuesday in Texas, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and ICE Director John Morton attended.

Woosley worked in federal law enforcement for 28 years, mostly with the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, according to his biography, which has been removed from ICE's Web site. He had assignments in Washington, El Paso, Los Angeles, Tucson and Phoenix, as well as attache offices in South and Central America.

Before he was appointed in June 2009 to lead ICE intelligence efforts, Woosley directed the agency's Arizona field intelligence group in Tucson. Earlier posts included a stint as ICE's interim director for intelligence, assistant regional INS director in Laguna Nigel, Calif., and INS deputy assistant commissioner for intelligence.

At a special hearing before the House Intelligence Committee in August 2006, Woosley testified about an intelligence-gathering program that gleaned information from hundreds of thousands of immigrants detained annually by ICE. The information was shared with the FBI, the intelligence community and other federal agencies.

James M. Chaparro has replaced Woosley as ICE intelligence chief. Until recently, Chaparro ran the agency's enforcement and removal operations. According to his biography, he previously served as deputy undersecretary for operations at the Homeland Security office of intelligence and analysis, and as director of the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center, among other posts.

Last March, Chaparro came under fire for a leaked memo he wrote shortly after taking over the agency's detention and removal operations. The internal e-mail, made public by The Washington Post, outlined tactics to increase deportation numbers, including the use of quotas.

Gary Mead replaces Chaparro as the head of enforcement and removal operations. Mead retired from ICE in 2008 and became a criminal justice and immigration consultant, but returned in November 2009 to the agency and served in various leadership roles.

Andrew Becker is a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in Berkeley, Calif. He can be reached at abecker@cironline.org.


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