CBP Seattle Field Office Outstanding Year End Results
Seattle - Over 23.4 million travelers were welcomed to the U.S. during fiscal year 2011 (Oct.1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2011) by the 1,440 officers and 120 agriculture specialists of U.S. Customs and Border Protection assigned to the Seattle Field Office. Among those travelers, CBP discovered $3.2 million in unreported currency, seized more than 404 pounds of illegal drugs and 115,000 prohibited plant and animal products and made 1,613 arrests.
The CBP Seattle Field Office manages the 67 ports of entry stretching from the Pacific Ocean across the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota to Grand Portage on Lake Superior. During fiscal year 2011, 1.2 million commercial trucks, 3.2 million cargo containers, 10 million automobiles, 14,083 trains, 23,185 international aircraft and 30,790 vessels, ferries and pleasure craft arrived at these ports.
"Since the foundation of CBP, we have met the challenge of securing our Nation's borders while facilitating the legitimate flow of international travel and trade," said Seattle Director of Field Operations Michele James. "Our personnel are devoted to this vital mission. We serve the public trust with pride and integrity, and will carry that forward into the new year."
While facilitating the flow of over 17.7 million foreign nationals into the U.S. through the SFO ports, CBP officers also refused entry to nearly 11,000 aliens who were deemed inadmissible. Most aliens are simply permitted to withdraw their application for entry, but 245 aliens with significant criminal histories 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 U.S. While anti-terrorism is the primary mission, CBP enforces hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations resulting in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in many areas, including illegal drugs, unsafe goods, prohibited and infested agriculture products, and other contraband.
Arrests of criminal fugitives remain a crucial element of CBP's daily mission, involving a wide range of misdeeds stretching across the country and international boundaries. For example, CBP officers in Pembina, N.D. arrested a man from Manitoba, Canada, on charges of committing larceny in Winfield, Kan. At the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, CBP officers: arrested a woman from Sacramento, Calif. arriving from Glasgow, Scotland, who was wanted for the unlawful issuance of checks in Missoula, Montana; a man from Olympia, Wash., arriving from Amsterdam who was wanted for distributing dangerous drugs in Provo, Utah; and a woman from Kirkland, Wash. arriving from Tehran, Iran, who was wanted by the FBI for embezzlement.
Increasingly, technology has assisted CBP in the detection and apprehension of fugitives. CBP officers in Blaine, Wash., intercepted an Algerian national who attempted to enter the U.S. as a stowaway aboard a railroad car. When the train passed through a CBP x-ray imaging station, CBP officers spotted his outline and took him into custody. The alien did not possess any identification, but officers electronically recorded and compared his fingerprints in the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), and discovered a felony warrant in Seattle for manufacture, delivery and intent to distribute a controlled substance. Removing predatory criminals from society is part of the protective mission CBP officers perform on a daily basis.
CBP continually combats the ongoing international threat of narcotics and currency smuggling. The newly reconstructed Peace Arch port of entry in Blaine, Wash., which sits astride Interstate 5 at the U.S.-Canadian border, witnessed several significant drug interceptions. These included the arrest of a 27-year-old Lynnwood, Wash. man for allegedly attempting to smuggle 4.5 lbs of cocaine into the U.S. concealed in the firewall of his 2006 Lexus sedan, and the seizure of 987 tablets of ecstasy hidden inside a door panel of a 1994 Honda Accord after a CBP narcotic detector dog named "Jari" alerted to the vehicle. Ecstasy is the street name for the club rave drug Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), classified as a Schedule I drug, deemed to have no medical use. However, not all illicit narcotics are smuggled through high traffic corridors. In Grand Portage, Minn., officers seized 22 lbs. of marijuana from a 25-year-old Canadian citizen traveling from Quebec, Canada; 40 vacuum sealed baggies filled with the green leafy narcotic were discovered in a hockey bag in the trunk of his vehicle. These and other continuing interdictions prevent sizeable amounts of illicit drugs from spreading to the streets of our communities within reach of our Nation's youth.
CBP continues to protect consumers by seizing prohibited, unlawful or undeclared goods coming into the U.S. Unscrupulous importers have profited billions of dollars from the sale of pirated Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) goods. To combat the counterfeit trade, most trademark and copyright holders register with CBP through an online system that assists CBP officers and import specialists to easily identify fake merchandise. In Portal, N.D., officers inspected a rail container with 3,309 pairs of counterfeit sunglasses and reading glasses with an estimated manufacturer suggested retail price of $446,486. The merchandise was seized by CBP. Pirated goods cost U.S. businesses more than $200 billion annually, and are directly responsible for the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs. Combating this problem remains an important part of the CBP mission.
CBP is always vigilant against the threat of accidental or deliberate contamination of our food supply 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 U.S. of plant and animal pests and diseases such as exotic fruit flies, Khapra beetles, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (known as "mad cow" disease), foot-and-mouth disease, and avian influenza ("bird flu"). During fiscal year 2011, the SFO seized and destroyed over 115,000 prohibited agriculture products such as fruits, vegetables, and animal products; and also required fumigation or other treatment on more than 1,260 commercial shipments. Agriculture specialists intercepted more than 5,500 pests that were submitted to USDA for identification. Among the most destructive pests are wood boring pests that include Asian Longhorned Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer. Agriculture specialists within the SFO refused more than 80 shipments found to be infested with wood boring pests. These pests have the potential to inflict enormous damage upon U.S. forests and urban tree populations, including maple, birch, willow, chestnut, elm, poplar and ash trees. The federal government has spent more than $250 million on ALB eradication efforts thus far, and is fighting current infestations in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that domestic losses from ALB alone could exceed $650 billion in damage to forests and ornamental trees, and to the lumber, maple syrup, and tourism industries. The Emerald Ash Borer is responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in 14 states in the Midwest and northeastern U.S.
As the U.S. and Canadian economies become more interdependent, facilitating trade across the northern border continues to be a vital part of the CBP mission in both strategic visioning and practical solutions. A pilot lane reconfiguration project that began in March improved the flow of commercial vehicles through the Pacific Highway port of entry in Blaine, as well as the flow of buses and other passenger traffic. This successful pilot has reduced the weekday wait times for most cargo trucks by 35 minutes or more. This project was the result of collaboration among CBP, the Border Policy Research Institute of Western Washington University, Canada Border Services Agency, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation.
CBP's Seattle Field Office and Area Port of Seattle played a prominent role hosting the annual World Customs Organization (WCO) Information Technology (IT) conference held in May 2011 in Seattle, with over 400 international delegates attending. The theme of the conference, "Cloud Computing, A New Era for Customs & Trade", provided government agencies, technology companies, consultants and members of the international trade community the opportunity to explore emerging trends in information technology related to global supply chain security, transport logistics, information security/privacy and trade facilitation. CBP Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar delivered a keynote address to delegates and hosted a trade roundtable with CBP Senior Advisor for Trade Relations Maria Luisa O'Connell and members of the Northwest international trade/travel communities.
Also during fiscal year 2011, the CBP Seattle Field Office met the challenge of opening eleven new port of entry facilities in North Dakota, Montana and Washington which were constructed by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). These new facilities replace dilapidated buildings which were constructed over 50 years ago, and required extensive upgrading and infrastructure replacement in order to meet CBP's growing enforcement requirements as well as basic building needs such as handicapped accessibility and fully functional restrooms. These new facilities feature the latest inspection/enforcement tools and environmentally sustainable ("green") technologies that will support CBP's antiterrorism, trade security and facilitation missions, while reducing the amount of energy consumed by the ports of entry.
CBP's Seattle Field Office maintains constant vigilance to prevent the entry into our nation of terrorists and their weapons while carrying out traditional border enforcement responsibilities across five states and three time zones.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.