Sacramento Air Unit Instrumental in Successful "Full Court Press" Operation
The two air interdiction agents assigned to the Sacramento air unit within the San Diego Air and Marine branch helped disrupt and dismantle a vast network of clandestine marijuana gardens that were being cultivated on behalf of Mexican drug trafficking organizations, primarily on public lands.
Air Interdiction Agent Bruce Brandt and Air Interdiction Agent Seth Jayne were tasked with supporting "Full Court Press," a multi-agency operation in California during July and August of this year, with planning starting earlier, in the spring.
Agents Brandt and Jayne spent close to 30 hours of flight time supporting Homeland Security Investigations within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as many other hours flying in preparation for the start of the operation. Their efforts were critical to amassing many of the statistics attributed to the operation:
- 138 persons apprehended, with 70 state criminal prosecutions. 48 federal prosecutions, and 10 administrative cases
- $38,704 in currency seized
- 33 weapons seized
- 623,576 marijuana plants eradicated
- 1,953 pounds of processed and packaged marijuana seized
Their work now continues with other investigations that have been launched because of the work done during the Full Court Press operations, and ICE agents from the San Francisco and Redding offices are already requesting assistance from the Sacramento Air Unit for next year.
The Sacramento Air Unit is responsible for a large area of responsibility, and fulfills the mission requirement with two pilots and at times only one aircraft. Part of their mission is to assist the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement San Francisco Special Agent In Charge with cases throughout his area of responsibility. This area spans north to the Oregon border, east into Reno, Nev., and south down to Bakersfield, Calif.
"Everyday, we put in 200% effort in support of homeland security," said AIA Bruce Brandt. "The ICE agents involved in Full Court Press were extremely thankful for our efforts during this operation, and said that they consider the Sacramento Air Unit a vital tool within their area of responsibility, noting that the CBP arguably has the most skilled and experienced air units in law enforcement."
More than 300 law enforcement officers from approximately 25 separate agencies participated in operation Full Court Press, including not just ICE and CBP, but also the U.S. Forest Service; the California Department of Fish and Game; the Sheriff's Office from Glenn, Trinity, and Colusa Counties; and other agencies.
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.