U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) fired four employees and disciplined 65 others following an investigation into alleged violent and sexist posts submitted in closed Facebook groups, the agency confirmed Thursday.
The investigation, launched last July, looked into allegations against 138 employees, including current and former Border Patrol employees. Four have been fired, 38 were suspended without pay, and 27 were disciplined with reprimands and counseling, according to CBP spokesperson Lawrence Payne.
Sixty-three of the cases were found to be unsubstantiated and six cases are still open as of July 15.
"U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) addresses misconduct that violates our Standards of Conduct and is contrary to our core values of vigilance, service to country, and integrity," the agency said.
When the investigation was launched, a CBP spokesperson told NBC 7 the agency was focused on fact-finding and would identify criminal behavior if there was any, but the investigation was not considered a criminal probe.
The Associated Press reported last year that many cases were tied to a secret group called "I'm 10-15," where messages questioned the authenticity of images of a migrant father and child dead on the banks of the Rio Grande River. Other posts depicted crude, doctored images of elected officials.
There were posts in at least one other closed group under investigation, according to Matthew Klein, assistant commissioner of the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility.
"Messages posted on a private page that are discriminatory or harassing are not protected and violate standards of conduct," Klein told the Associated Press last July.
CBP's investigators sent a letter to Facebook to archive the data so they could identify and interview people who participated in the posts.