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Houlton Port Resumes Operations After Brief Closure

Release Date: 
October 17, 2011

Houlton, Maine -U.S. Customs and Border Protection reopened the Houlton, Maine port of entry following a two hour closure after CBP officers discovered a possible bomb during an inspection yesterday. With the assistance of local, state, federal and international partners, the port and the border remained secure at all times and was allowed to resume normal traffic operations at approximately 6 pm.

Yesterday at approximately 3:30 pm, a Canadian citizen, 22, arrived at the Houlton port of entry for arrival into the United States. During the course of the inspection a CBP officer discovered a suspicous device in the trunk of the vehicle that resembled a homemade bomb.

Due to the training and vigilance by CBP officers, immediate action was taken to isolate the suspicious device and establish a perimeter for the safety of indiduals in the area. Subsequently, the individual was secured and detained, and all local, state, federal and international partners were notified of the situation. For the safety of the traveling public, all north and southbound traffic was rerouted to nearby ports of entry with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol, Houlton Fire Department, Canadian Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Staffing levels at the alternate ports were in place to process the increase in traffic as expeditiously as possible.

At approximately 5 pm, the Maine State Police Bomb Tech arrived at the Houlton port to assess the suspicious device. Using a water cannon, the device was rendered safe at 5:42 pm and by 5:49, CBP was cleared to resume normal traffic operations at the Houlton port. The individual's vehicle was also searched by the Bomb Tec with an explosive canine which produced negative results.

Further investigations by CBP, local, state and federal agencies determined the suspicious device to be a homemade 'smoke bomb' that was constructed by the individual. The individual was summonsed for misdemeanor transportation of fireworks, and assessed a $500 penalty for 1 gram of marijuana that was also discovered and seized during the inspection process. Subsequently, the individual was refused entry and returned to Canada.

With the assistance of our local, state, federal and international partners, the port and the border remained secure at all times during this ordeal. Normal operations resumed at approximately 8 pm.

"Our primary focus was the safety of our employees, the public and securing our border," said Port Director Chris Sullivan. "Due to the rapid response of our officers and our law enforcement partners, we were able to accomplish all three and we were able to resume normal operations as quickly as possible."

Sullivan further said, "I commend everyone involved for bringing this situation to a timely resolution and personally thank the traveling public for their patience and support during this incident."

For information on port hours and wait times, please visit the CBP Border Wait Times Web site. (CBP Border Wait Times)

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017