CBP in Northeast Reflects on Year-end Accomplishments
BOSTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the northeast, Boston Field Office, Houlton and Swanton Border Patrol Sectors, and Houlton and Plattsburgh Air Branches, look back on fiscal year 2012 to reflect on the accomplishments and valued partnerships with other law enforcement agencies in the border regions they share.
In this dynamic, ever-changing world, CBP uses a layered approach of personnel, technology and intelligence coupled with integrated partnerships with other agencies, and community engagement to protect the United States from all threats. CBP continually works with local, state, federal, international and tribal partners, combining personnel and assets to stay ahead of criminal elements. Leveraging partnerships is a valuable force-multiplier in accomplishing the collective mission of reducing crime and improving the quality of life in our communities.
Even though each component within CBP has its own area of responsibility and traditional missions, the national strategy is the same - preventing terrorists and terrorists' weapons from entering the country, while facilitating legitimate trade and travel. CBP agents and officers in the northeast, though geographically separated, are unified in this mission, working diligently with each other and their partners in securing our nation.
Office of Air and Marine Highlights from Fiscal Year 2012 Include:
Houlton Air Branch (Maine)
- The Houlton Air Branch's combined efforts have yielded total seizures of $298,585 in currency; 436 pounds of marijuana; 0.2 pounds of methamphetamine, one vehicle and six arrests, while supporting the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies around the region.
Plattsburgh Air Branch (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Eastern New York, Rhode Island and Vermont)
- The Plattsburgh Air Branch's combined efforts have yielded total seizures of $130,876 in currency; 943 pounds of marijuana; 0.7 pounds of heroin, four vehicles and 47 arrests while supporting the USBP, ICE HSI, DEA, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian Pacific Railroad Police, HIDTA, Adirondack Task Force, International Border Enforcement Team (IBET), Border Enforcement Security Task Force, New York State Police, Vermont State Police, and Sheriff's Offices and local police departments around the region.
Notably, the Plattsburgh Air Branch closely supported Albany ICE HSI in what is called the largest child pornography case in the northeast region. This case identified, located and protected children who were unknowingly photographed, enabled HSI to arrest the suspect, and led to the seizure of more than 100,000 images of child pornography.
U.S. Border Patrol Highlights from Fiscal Year 2012 Include:
Houlton Sector (Maine)
- On March 26, 2011, two Houlton Station Border Patrol agents seized $89,808 in U.S. currency, $10,440 in Western Union traveler's checks and $200 in Canadian currency from two male citizens from Canada. Countless hours of interviews, further investigation by ICE HSI, and sharing of information between CBP and other law enforcement agencies revealed a fraud scheme that preyed on the elderly. The telephone scam involved the subjects advising the elderly of a grandchild or other relative desperately in need of money, and instructing them to wire funds. The victims were subsequently bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Over the summer of 2012, the subjects were sentenced to two years in prison each, and ordered to pay $116,117 in restitution. The $104,000 initially seized by Border Patrol agents was returned to 18 of the victims.
Houlton Sector agents and employees continue to strengthen their partnerships with other agencies and stakeholders in the communities in which they live and work. Continued integration efforts with Canadian partners through the IBETs, both Atlantic and Eastern, conducted 10 joint operations throughout the area. Continued integration efforts for border security with state, local and tribal partners through Operation Stonegarden conducted 29 operations through this program.
Houlton Sector agents hosted their third Citizens Academies in Calais, Fort Fairfield, Houlton and Van Buren. The academies allowed local citizens a look into the mission and operations of CBP in Maine. Representatives from the Boston Field Office, Houlton Air Branch, Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other local, state, federal and international agencies participated, showing the importance of partnerships and shared intelligence in border security. Fort Fairfield agents also concluded their first Explorer Academy on Aug. 2. This ongoing program is designed to allow Border Patrol agents to mentor local youth, and provide them with practical training and hands-on experience in the law enforcement field.
A total of eight Houlton Sector agents were recognized at the CBP Commissioner's Award Ceremony in March of 2012. Five Jackman agents received the highest award by CBP, the Newton-Azrak Award for demonstrating exemplary bravery during the unsuccessful attempt to rescue Border Patrol Agent Mahaney's 5-year-old son Liam on July 19, 2011, when a truck carrying a full load of tree-length logs flipped over on its side, crashing into the two-story residence where the family of six slept; two Houlton agents received the Meritorious Service Award for Valor in recognition for saving the lives of innocent passengers and bystanders from an unstable subject claiming to have a bomb on March 30, 2011; and one Jackman agent received a Humanitarian Award in recognition of his actions in assisting fellow Border Patrol Agent Mahaney and his family following the tragic July 19, 2011, accident that claimed the life of their son and destroyed their home.
Swanton Sector (Coos, Grafton and Carroll Counties in New Hampshire, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Hamilton and Herkimer Counties in New York, and Vermont)
- On Aug. 16, Colleen Shannon, a former Playboy model and 2004 Playmate of the Year, was arrested by Burke, New York Border Patrol agents in a foiled alien smuggling attempt. Ms. Shannon was attempting to smuggle into the U.S. her convicted Canadian criminal boyfriend, Robert Skojo. The RCMP informed the CBP/USBP Attaché in Toronto Canada that Skojo was an extremely high level criminal - one of the highest level targets that the RCMP had on their list. Ms. Shannon was charged with 8 USC 1327 and Mr. Skojo with 8 USC 1326. At the time of arrest, Ms. Shannon was driving Skojo's Bentley Sedan, paid off and worth $90,000, which was seized for forfeiture. Also found in Skojo's possession and seized for forfeiture were $18,700 in cash, a necklace valued at $125,000 and a watch valued at $37,000. The partnerships involved in this case included the USBP, DEA, ICE HSI RAC Buffalo and RAC Massena, RCMP, Niagara IBET, Valleyfield IBET and the Franklin County Task Force.
On Oct. 20, 2011, Swanton Sector Border Patrol agents from Swanton and Richford, Vt. responded to a call on an abandoned vehicle near the Canadian border in which record checks revealed the vehicle was stolen out of Baltimore, Md. Through additional information collected by the Swanton Sector Intelligence Unit, agents were able to obtain surveillance photos of the subject who stole the vehicle from a local gas station and provided it to the investigating agency. The photos appeared to match the description of a BOLO subject by the name of James Louis Whittlesey, wanted for armed robbery and attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. Agents quickly disseminated the information of the gas station's location where the subject was possibly last seen to all law enforcement partners.
Through the dissemination of this information, on Dec. 11, 2011, Montreal, QC Police Department's Tactical Squad located and arrested James Louis Whittlesey. On April 25, CBSA transferred custody of Whittlesey to the United States to face charges and on Oct. 17, Whittlesey was sentenced to six life sentences, and ordered to pay approximately $27,000 in restitution. This case highlights the importance of communication and intelligence sharing between CBP and other federal, state, and foreign law enforcement partners.
Swanton Sector has been actively engaged in Intelligence Driven Operations with Foreign Law Enforcement Officer Partnerships with Project Concept, a RCMP initiative, which started in Sept. 2010. RCMP is solely responsible for patrolling the border within Concept's Area of Responsibility (AOR). All Concept related prosecutions and investigations are conducted through the local IBETs office in Lacolle, Quebec. Since its inception, apprehensions on the U.S. side of the border have steadily declined. Project Concept has had a profound effect on southbound apprehensions, specifically at the three Border Patrol stations that fall within Project Concept's AOR (Champlain, Swanton and Richford) resulting in the following:
- Extension of the border north into Canada where these RCMP patrols operate.
Added an additional layer of border security in Canada that transnational criminal organizations now have to defeat.
Coordinated joint sensor and camera responses via the Communication centers (dispatchers) to interdict northbound and southbound border incursions on both sides of the international border.
- Extension of the border north into Canada where these RCMP patrols operate.
Office of Field Operations Highlights from Fiscal Year 2012 Include:
Boston Field Office (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont)
- The trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens America's innovation economy, the competitiveness of our businesses, the livelihoods of U.S. workers, and, in some cases, national security and the health and safety of consumers. The trade in illegitimate goods is associated with smuggling and other criminal activities, and often funds criminal enterprises. CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement program by targeting and seizing imports of counterfeit and pirated goods, and enforces exclusion orders on patent-infringing and other IPR violative goods. The Port of Boston has seen an increase in IPR seizures, logging an increase in seizures by more than 300% over FY12. Items included trademarked sports jerseys (NFL, NHL and MLB), workout and television series DVDs, designer scarves, shoes, sunglasses, headphones and ear buds. Since FY11, $5.4 million in counterfeit products have been seized at the Port of Boston.
Boston CBP officials shared information with their CBP counterparts and law enforcement agencies across the nation on subjects identified in stealing/scamming more than $1 million in currency and jewelry from elderly people in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and possibly other cities.
Through interviews, sharing of information, review of case files, and information obtained from sources and multiple agencies working together, six individuals were arrested in San Francisco by CBP officers on May 10, and turned over to local authorities, before they were able to leave the United States. CBP officials also seized $48,418 in unreported currency.
On May 4, CBP officers at Logan International Airport arrested a 32-year-old male, a citizen of the Dominican Republic and legal permanent resident of the United States who ingested 94 pellets of cocaine weighing more than 2 ½ pounds worth nearly $80,000.
CBP agents and officers are committed to serving the communities in which they live and work. They are highly skilled and mobile, enabling them to respond to diverse requests and missions from various law enforcement agencies and, work tirelessly, with heart and perseverance to ensure the safety of their colleagues, friends and neighbors.
It is with this dedication and the above accomplishments that CBP in the northeast is proud to say thank you, not only to our agents and officers, but also to our law enforcement partners and the citizens in our shared border regions. CBP would not be able to accomplish our important border security mission and secure our future without your commitment and service to our country.