ABC NEWS to Investigate U.S. Customs and Border Protection
ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross and the ABC News Investigative team reveal shocking video of two U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers allegedly encouraging 16-year-old Cruz Velazquez Acevedo of Tijuana, Mexico, to drink from a bottle containing suspected contraband to prove he was not a drug smuggler, leading to a tragic outcome. He had claimed it was juice; it was actually a highly concentrated liquid solution of methamphetamine. "20/20" airs on FRIDAY, JULY 28 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC.
The officers claim the young man "volunteered" to drink - with no encouragement - from one of the bottles, but the never-before-seen video suggests otherwise.
The "20/20" investigation also looks at a series of cases in which border agents and officers have been accused of abusing those crossing the border, but facing few consequences.
This joint investigation with The Investigative Fund also includes interviews with Reyna Velazquez, Velazquez's sister; Gene Iredale, the Velazquez family attorney; James Tomsheck, the ousted former head of Customs Internal Affairs who is now a sharp critic of the agency; and Mitra Ebadolahi of the ACLU. Also appearing in the program is Gil Kerlikowske, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection under President Obama's administration.
Velazquez, whose family says he had never been in trouble with the law previously, attempted to smuggle two bottles of methamphetamine through the San Ysidro border crossing station. Ninety minutes of video footage show two CBP officers questioning Velazquez about the two bottles and allegedly urging him to drink from one of them. Then Velazquez takes four sips from the bottle of methamphetamine, becomes increasingly sick and leaves the station on a stretcher to a hospital where he later died from a massive overdose. Both officers deny encouraging him to drink and claim Velazquez volunteered to drink from the bottle and have been officially cleared of any wrongdoing. Both are on the job to this day.
"20/20" is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and David Muir. David Sloan is senior executive producer.
Image courtesy of ABC.