El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at El Paso area ports of entry recorded a wide variety of enforcement actions during a busy weekend. CBP officers identified numerous immigrations violations, agriculture smuggling attempts, fugitive apprehensions, and other violations while inspecting inbound and outbound traffic at area border crossings.
"Day in and day out CBP officers remain committed to enforcing the laws of the United States while performing their primary homeland security mission at area ports," said William Molaski, CBP El Paso port director. "As America's first line of defense, CBP officers enforce hundreds of laws of more than 50 different law enforcement and regulatory agencies."
During the previous three days, area CBP officers uncovered 49 immigration violations. Intended immigrants made up a large group of the violators. A total of 22 were identified through thorough document exams. In these cases individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card, or laser visa, to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. Violators generally lose their documents and are returned to Mexico.
One intended immigrant case of interest occurred late Sunday at the Paso Del Norte international crossing in downtown El Paso. A vehicle with several passengers arrived at the primary inspection booth. During the primary exam a CBP officer noticed that a passenger was somewhat evasive during the inspection. CBP officers continued their exam and found that the passenger, an 18-year-old male from Juarez, had been using his border crossing document to perform as a wrestler in El Paso. The border crossing card does not allow the holder to work or live in the U.S. The document was seized and the man was returned to Mexico.
CBP officers this weekend also identified 18 imposters while performing inspections at area ports. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. CBP officers also recorded nine cases of people making false claims to U.S. citizenship, people attempting to enter with counterfeit or altered documents, and visa overstay violations.
CBP officers working at area ports made a total of 11 fugitive apprehensions during the three day period including one man who was being sought in El Paso on 26 outstanding traffic warrants. That apprehension was made at 12:15 a.m. Sunday at the Bridge of the Americas while CBP officers and Border Patrol agents were performing southbound examinations. The 22-year-old El Paso man was turned over to El Paso Police Department officers in connection with the outstanding warrants. CBP officers and Border Patrol agents performing southbound exams this weekend also apprehended 18 people who were attempting to leave the U.S. after having previously entered the U.S. without proper inspection.
"The principal focus of the outbound exam is to identify and stop weapons, ammunition and currency from being smuggled out of the U.S. however this weekend clearly illustrates that the efforts also turn up other violators as well," said Molaski.
Two people who had Secure Electronic Network Travel Rapid Inspection access lost their privileges this weekend when CBP officers discovered prohibited items in their vehicles. A 50-year-old El Paso man had his document seized after CBP officers discovered two-dozen 750 ml bottles of tequila in his car Saturday. The tequila was seized and the man's Dedicated Commuter Lane pass was revoked. On Sunday, CBP officers at the Stanton DCL discovered undeclared peaches and potatoes in the trunk of a car being driven by a 49-year-old Mexican female. The woman was assessed a $500 penalty and lost her SENTRI document.
"The SENTRI program is designed for trusted travelers and those who choose to violate that trust can expect to lose their privileges without exception," said Molaski. "We trust but verify to maintain the integrity of the SENTRI program."
Including the SENTRI case, CBP agriculture specialists working at area ports made seven seizures of prohibited food and agricultural items this weekend, resulting in $1,925 in fines being assessed. Prohibited items seized this weekend included pork, chorizo, pork tamales, ham, hot dogs, fresh eggs, guavas, peaches and potatoes.
CBP officers this weekend also seized 132 cock fighting spurs. The seizure was made Sunday night at the Ysleta crossing. A 56-year-old El Paso man declared the items during primary inspection. The man was told by CBP that the items are prohibited for importation. The man abandoned the property to CBP without incident.