CBP Announces Fiscal Year 2010 Achievements for San Diego Air and Marine Branch, El Centro Air Branch
San Diego - During fiscal year 2010, the San Diego Air and Marine Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection logged about 5,289 hours at sea, securing the ocean border near Southern California, and about 7,511 hours in the skies above, with the El Centro Air Branch contributing another 2,769 hours of flight time securing U.S. borders.
From Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010, whether on a CBP mission or as part of a task force, agents and officers from San Diego were instrumental in the seizure of 238,157 pounds of marijuana, 880 pounds of cocaine, 398 pounds of methamphetamine and about 95 pounds of heroin. Agents contributed to 5,000 thwarted illegal immigration attempts in Southern California along the land border. They also assisted with seizing almost $3.1 million, 25 vehicles, 57 vessels, and 67 weapons used in the commission of various crimes. Agents and officers from El Centro were instrumental in the apprehension of 2,719 undocumented migrants, as well as the seizure of 2,766 pounds of marijuana, 21 vehicles, and $80,000.
Nationally, CBP's Office of Air and Marine is the world's largest aviation and maritime law enforcement organization. In addition to interdicting any illegal activity that takes place in the seas and skies of southern and central California, the San Diego Air and Marine Branch and El Centro Air Branch perform other missions critical to U.S. security, including: supporting local Border Patrol agents on the ground by providing surveillance; transporting agents to remote locations and acting as a force multiplier supporting interdictions on the ground; assisting other federal law enforcement agencies with surveillance; and other missions in support of CBP, other federal agencies, and other law enforcement organizations.
The San Diego Air and Marine Branch features maritime units headquartered out of North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado, as well as air units stationed at Brown Field Airport near Otay Mesa, North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado, Sacramento, and Riverside, Calif., and an aviation facility in Pine Valley, Calif.
The San Diego Air and Marine Branch is also a key member of the San Diego Maritime Unified Command, an all-threats multi-agency approach to maritime law enforcement operating in the San Diego and Orange County maritime region. Numerous interdictions this past fiscal year were the results of coordinated efforts this past fiscal year by member agencies of the San Diego Maritime Unified Command, comprised of CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Coast Guard, and other law enforcement partners.
The El Centro Air Branch is located in Imperial, Calif, and patrols all of Imperial County and the inland portions of Riverside County. The branch was crucial in supporting 38 rescues of illegal aliens, and eight other rescues during the past fiscal year, including the rescue of a Border Patrol agent in distress.
The San Diego Air and Marine Branch and El Centro Air Branch employ sophisticated aircraft including the Cessna Citation jet, Black Hawk and American Eurocopter AS-350 helicopters, as well as a variety of other fixed wing and rotary aircraft. Marine Interdiction Agents in San Diego command 39-foot Midnight Express Interceptors and other vessels along California's coastal waters in search of potential terrorists or smugglers.