Multiple U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency officers at Newark Airport have allegedly been subjected to sexually abusive hazing by veteran officers. The Department of Homeland Security is now investigating allegations that include officers being duct-taped to a “rape table.”
"I’m afraid for my life, my safety," CBP officer Diana Cifuentes told NBC 4 New York. "This is terrorizing. How is it that officers believe they’re free to do whatever they want to do?"
Cifuentes and two other current officers, members of the Passenger Enforcement Roving Team talked to NBC about what they endured. One of the officers said that it goes beyond hazing.
"Hazing wouldn’t do this justice. This is complete assault. They take you in a room and your fellow officers are all watching as officers grab you," said CBP officer Vito Degironimo.
The three officers said the abuse has been happening for years in a secure room where security cameras are monitored, according to the report. The conference table in the room is known as the “rape table.”
Degironimo said that while clothing was never removed, the hazing ritual involved the grinding of genital areas on victims.
"Once the lights go out, they grab you up like a gang, and they forcibly throw you on the table and one officer ended up mounting me and pretty much riding me like a horse," he said. "I’m grabbed by other officers against my will. I don’t know how much more criminal you can get."
CBP officer Dan Arencibia told NBC 4 New York he was haunted by a song that played in the room during the hazing ritual: a song from the MTV series Jackass.
"It’s called the 'Party Boy song.' It’s something they played in the past and it becomes their theme for the event," Arencibia said.
Cifuentes said she escaped the "rape table" but suffered harassment. She claims it escalated to the point of one officer pulling his gun on her.
All three officers said they were originally too intimidated to make official complaints but Degironimo ended up up filing an internal complaint. Eventually, all three officers went to an attorney, according to the report.
The hazing allegations are under investigation.
CBP insisted, according to a New York Daily News report, that it doesn’t tolerate abuse within its agency.
“We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we cooperate fully with all criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, whether it occurs on or off duty,” they stated.
[Photo: NBC New York]