Seventy current and former U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees are under investigation for participating in a secret Facebook group in which users joked about dead migrants and made sexist, derogatory comments about Latino Congress members, officials said Monday.
Speaking to reporters, Customs officials said that 62 are current employees and eight are former employees.
The office of professional responsibility is conducting the investigations, the officials said. Investigations into two employees have been completed and handed over to CBP for a disciplinary decision.
It isn’t clear what disciplinary action has been taken against those two employees or how they will handle the others.
Investigative news organization ProPublica, which first reported on the group, said it obtained screenshots of several recent discussions and “was able to link the participants in those online conversations to apparently legitimate Facebook profiles belonging to Border Patrol agents, including a supervisor based in El Paso, Texas, and an agent in Eagle Pass, Texas.”
ProPublica said it was unable to reach the group members behind the posts. NBC News has not independently confirmed their authenticity.
The news organization reported that the three-year-old group, called “I’m 10-15,” had roughly 9,500 members. The agency’s code for “aliens in custody” is 10-15.
Carla Provost, chief of the Border Patrol, which is part of Customs and Border Protection, previously condemned the posts, calling them “completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out.”
Provost added that any employees found to have violated the agency’s standards of conduct “will be held accountable.”
After Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, visited a border detention facility earlier this month, one group member — apparently a patrol supervisor — reportedly wrote “F— the hoes,” according to ProPublica.
“There should be no photo ops for these scum buckets,” wrote another member.
Many of the posts — some of which were sexually explicit — targeted Ocasio-Cortez, ProPublica reported.
“They’re threatening violence on members of Congress,” the Congress member responded in a tweet. “How do you think they’re treating caged children+families?”