CBP Seattle Field Office Fiscal Year 2013 Results
Seattle —U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), announces that more than 26.4 million travelers were screened for entry into the United States during fiscal year (FY) 2013 (October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013) by the 1,364 officers and 122 agriculture specialists assigned to the Seattle Field Office (SFO). Among those travelers, CBP discovered $2.8 million in unreported currency, interdicted more than 767 pounds of illegal drugs, made 1,147 arrests, and seized more than 113,000 prohibited plant and animal products.
The CBP Seattle Field Office oversees operations at 67 ports of entry (POE) stretching from the Pacific Ocean across the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota to Grand Portage on Lake Superior. During FY 2013, 1.3 million commercial trucks, 3.3 million cargo containers, 12.1 million automobiles, 15,260 trains, 22,999 international aircraft and 28,218 vessels, ferries and pleasure craft arrived at these ports.
“Strengthening our nation’s security is the number one priority for the dedicated men and women of CBP,” said Seattle Field Office Director Michele James. “Our border security accomplishments along with our ability to promote the efficient movement of international trade and travel made for a highly successful year in 2013.”
While facilitating the flow of more than 20.1 million foreign nationals into the United States through SFO POEs, CBP officers also refused entry to more than 9,000 aliens deemed inadmissible. Most aliens are permitted to withdraw their application for entry; however, 139 aliens with high level admissibility concerns were processed for expedited removal and returned directly to the country from which they entered.
CBP officers and agriculture specialists screen all people, vehicles, conveyances, and goods entering the United States. While anti-terrorism remains the agency’s primary mission, CBP personnel enforce hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations generating an impressive number of enforcement actions, including interdicting illegal drugs, unsafe goods, prohibited and infested agriculture products, and other contraband.
Arresting criminal fugitives remains an important outcome of CBP’s daily operational work. For example, CBP officers in Warroad, Minn., arrested a Regina, Saskatchewan, man wanted for Gross Sexual Imposition. At the Blaine, Wash., POE, a British Columbia man was taken into custody when it was discovered he was wanted in Tyler, Texas, on a narcotics charge. Similarly, in Seattle, CBP officers arrested a fugitive from the Washington State Department of Corrections when he arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Technology increasingly supports CBP in accomplishing its border security mission. Non-Intrusive Inspection equipment detects concealed contraband in commercial trucks and stowaways aboard railroad cars. The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System aids CBP personnel in positively identifying persons who may lack valid or possess fraudulent travel documents. The most frequently used enforcement technology is TECS, a federal enforcement database with on-line access to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. Through TECS, CBP officers access records on wanted persons, vehicles, license plates, stolen articles, and criminal histories. Technology also assists CBP in helping travelers, as CBP officers at the Eastport, Idaho, POE discovered when they stopped a car attempting to enter the country through a closed lane. Utilizing TECS, CBP officers were able to determine the driver of the car, an elderly man, was the subject of a missing person’s record, and with the help of the Canada Border Services Agency reunited him with his anxious family.
CBP continues to protect consumers by seizing prohibited, unlawful, or undeclared goods destined for the United States. Pirated Intellectual Property Rights goods cost U.S. businesses more than $200 billion annually, and are directly responsible for the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs. To combat the counterfeit trade, many trademark and copyright holders register with CBP through an online system that helps CBP officers and import specialists to identify fake merchandise. In Seattle, CBP officers and import specialists seized a shipment of handbags in November 2012 containing 644 items, including counterfeit Louis Vuitton, Coach, and Versace purses with a manufacturer’s suggested retail value of nearly $100,000. Combating this economic threat remains an important part of the CBP mission.
Protecting consumers from hazardous products is another way CBP stands guard over the flow of commerce. CBP officers partnered with Consumer Product Safety Commission investigators in Seattle to seize various shipments of foreign-made children’s products containing excessive levels of lead; the unsafe imports included wearing apparel and necklaces, reindeer ornaments activity kits, magic coin tricks, and dart ball game sets. Another hazardous product targeted are toys intended for use by children under 3 years of age; two shipments totaling 4,000 cartons of plastic bath toys were seized as they posed a potential choking or ingestion hazard to America’s children.
CBP is vigilant against the threat of accidental or deliberate infestation of our agriculture industry and natural resources, including agro-terrorism. CBP agriculture specialists are charged with protecting our $1.5 trillion domestic agriculture industry by preventing entry into the United States of exotic plant pests and foreign animal diseases such as fruit flies, Khapra beetles, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (known as “mad cow” disease), foot-and-mouth disease, and highly pathogenic avian influenza (“bird flu”). In FY 2013, CBP personnel intercepted serious infestations of Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) egg masses on cargo ships arriving from around the Pacific Rim at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. AGM is a serious threat that attacks more than 500 species of trees and other plants. If AGM were to become established in the United States, it would have the potential to spread rapidly and devastate forest lands.
CBP agriculture specialists look for, and interdict, pests in all types of environments. Historically, fruit flies were thought to be brought into the United States exclusively through ports in warm climates. However, CBP agriculture specialists at the port of International Falls, Minn., discovered a new pathway for fruit flies to enter the United States: railcars arriving from Canada carrying cargo loaded onto a ship in the Far East. During FY 2013, CBP agriculture specialists at International Falls, and Portal, N.D., interdicted more than 200 pests on or in rail car containers.
As the U.S. and Canadian economies become increasingly interdependent, facilitating trade across a secure northern border becomes critical to the economic health of the two nations. A new initiative to support this shared goal was articulated when President Obama and Prime Minister Harper announced the United States-Canada joint declaration, Beyond the Border (BTB): A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness. As part of the BTB initiative, a cargo pre-inspection pilot was successfully conducted during the summer and fall of 2013 at Pacific Highway, Blaine, WA. This pilot confirmed the feasibility of placing CBP officers on Canadian soil to pre-inspect southbound trucks, drivers, and cargo prior to arrival into the United States.
During FY 2013, the CBP Seattle Field Office met the challenge of opening new POE facilities. At Fargo, N.D., CBP relocated operations into a new general aviation facility that consolidates the inspection process for arriving passengers for all international flights. The new port facility at Boundary, Wash., was constructed using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This new facility replaced an aging structure that required extensive upgrading and infrastructure replacement in order to meet CBP’s growing enforcement requirements as well as basic needs such as handicapped accessibility and fully functional restrooms. New facilities like these feature the latest inspection/enforcement tools and environmentally sustainable (“green”) technologies that support CBP’s antiterrorism, trade security and facilitation missions, while reducing the amount of consumed energy.
CBP’s Seattle Field Office maintains constant vigilance to prevent the entry into our nation of terrorists and their weapons of destruction, while successfully executing our traditional border security, enforcement, and trade facilitation responsibilities.