CBP Seattle Field Office Outstanding Year End Results
SEATTLE—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announces that more than 25.5 million travelers were screened for entry into the United States during fiscal year 2012 (October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012) by the 1,435 officers and 127 agriculture specialists assigned to the Seattle Field Office (SFO). Among those travelers, CBP discovered $2.2 million in unreported currency, seized more than 547 pounds of illegal drugs, seized more than 120,000 prohibited plant and animal products, and made 1,381 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 2012, 1.3 million commercial trucks, 3.4 million cargo containers, 11.6 million automobiles, 15,664 trains, 22,982 international aircraft and 30,514 vessels, ferries and pleasure craft arrived at these ports.
"Our many accomplishments in 2012 reflect the efforts of the dedicated men and women of CBP," said Seattle Field Office Director Michele James. "Maintaining our nation's security while promoting the efficient movement of international trade and travel is a challenge that we all face daily with great dedication, pride and integrity."
While facilitating the flow of more than 19.3 million foreign nationals into the U.S. through the SFO ports of entry, CBP officers also refused entry to more than 10,000 aliens who were deemed inadmissible. Most aliens are simply permitted to withdraw their application for entry, but 128 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 Metaline Falls, Wash., arrested a man from Calgary, Alberta, wanted on charges in California for conspiracy to export defense articles without a license and in Blaine, Wash., a United States Air Force deserter of 40 years was taken into custody when he presented his British Columbia driver's license bearing a changed name. The most infamous arrest of the year occurred at the Lynden, Wash. port of entry when Travis Baumgartner, the subject of a Canadian-wide manhunt, was taken into custody for the alleged armored-car robbery and triple murder at the University of Alberta. His pickup truck was bearing fictitious license plates and contained more than $330,000 in cash.
Technology has increasingly assisted CBP in the detection and apprehension of fugitives. CBP officers in Portal, N.D., intercepted two citizens of Canada who attempted to enter the U.S as stowaways aboard a railroad car. When the train passed through a CBP x-ray imaging station, CBP officers were alerted to their presence and took the riders into custody. Due to conflicting identity documents in their possession, CBP officers electronically recorded and compared their fingerprints in the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and discovered that both were the subject of felony warrants in Canada. The warrants were immediately confirmed and both individuals were turned over to Canadian Border Services Agency and arrested by Canadian Pacific Railway Police. Removing criminals from society is part of the protective mission CBP officers perform on a daily basis.
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 Seattle, officers and import specialists seized a shipment of 25,822 purses in March arriving in an ocean container from China. More than 8,500 purses were seized in violation of counterfeit trademarks including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi, Burberry and Coach. The combined manufacturer's suggested retail price of the handbags, had the trademarks been genuine, was more than $8.4 million. 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.
Protecting consumers from hazardous products is another way CBP stands guard over the flow of commerce. CBP officers and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigators in Seattle seized two shipments of children's Halloween pirate costumes for containing eleven times the legal limit of lead. The shipments, 229 cartons containing 1,371 retail units, valued at more than $10,000 originated in China and were destined for a distributor in the Seattle area. CBP staff targeted the shipments for intensive examination and took samples which were submitted to the CPSC. When CPSC tested the samples, it found that they contained unacceptable levels of lead, in violation of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Laboratory analysis found that parts of the pirate costumes (buttons) contained 1,109 parts per million (ppm) of lead; the acceptable level is just 100 ppm.
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 U.S of foreign plant pests and animal diseases such as exotic fruit flies, Khapra beetles, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (known as "mad cow" disease), foot-and-mouth disease, and highly pathogenic avian influenza ("bird flu"). In fiscal year 2012, agriculture specialists in the SFO inspected more than 28,000 cargo shipments and took action on more than 1,300 shipments posing agriculture threats from around the globe. Additionally, these agriculture specialists seized more than 120,000 agriculture related items that are prohibited due to a high risk of exotic plant pests or foreign animal diseases.
Among the most destructive pests are wood boring pests that include Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) and Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Agriculture specialists within the SFO intercepted more than 5,000 plant pests and refused entry to more than 50 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that if the Asian Longhorned Beetle were to become widely established in the U.S., losses to our forests and forest related industries would exceed $650 billion. 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 United States.
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. In the last year CBP announced a program to allow additional cargo shipments to enter at the Lynden port of entry. Previously the only cargo shipments permitted entry at Lynden were informal entries, empty commercial conveyances, and cargo covered by a pre-approved permit. As a benefit to Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) companies, under the new program, shipments qualified under the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program are now allowed to enter at Lynden without a pre-approved permit.
To facilitate travel and tourism a new Ready Lane was announced at Lynden to expedite the entry of travelers possessing Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology-enabled travel documents. Also this year saw an expansion of the NEXUS program to the Sumas, Wash. port of entry. Within the SFO, the NEXUS program allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers expedited processing across the U.S.-Canada border at four locations in the Interstate 5 corridor.
During fiscal year 2012, the CBP Seattle Field Office met the challenge of opening new port of entry facilities in Sarles, Hannah, Maida, Walhalla and Neche, N.D.; Pinecreek, Minn.; Del Bonita and Scobey, Mont. and at Boundary and Nighthawk, Wash., which were constructed by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). These new facilities replaced aging buildings which were constructed more than 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.