The U.S. Border Patrol, a law enforcement component of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), achieved substantial results during fiscal year 2008 toward securing our Nation’s border between the ports of entry. Focusing on the right combination of personnel, technology, and infrastructure along with partnerships and special enforcement operations enabled positive results in preventing, deterring, or apprehending illicit cross-border traffic.
Chief David V. Aguilar recognized the accomplishments of the Border Patrol. “Our men and women have made significant progress towards securing our Nation’s borders. The hard work, dedication, and perseverance of our personnel are what will continue us on the path toward increased border security.”
“I thank the agents and employees of the CBP’s Border Patrol for their continuing efforts and sacrifices to safeguard our country and our families.”
An intense recruiting effort led by Border Patrol agents resulted in a current workforce of 17,499 Border Patrol agents. CBP plans to have 18,000 Border Patrol agents on-board by the end of calendar year 2008.
While personnel, technology, and infrastructure increased, there were significant decreases in arrests and drug seizures. The United States Border Patrol arrested 723,825 illegal aliens in FY 2008, a 17 percent decrease compared with 876,704 in FY 2007. Border Patrol agents seized 1,642,420 pounds of marijuana, 9,272 pounds of cocaine, and 735 ounces of heroin, decreases of 12, 35, and 61 percent, respectively.
Unfortunately, the Border Patrol’s successes were not obtained without sacrifice. There were 1,097 assaults perpetrated against agents in an increasingly violent and dangerous border environment. Sadly, in 2008, two Border Patrol agents made the ultimate sacrifice while performing their duties.
Border Patrol Agent Jarod Dittman was killed in a single vehicle accident on March 30, near San Diego, Calif.
Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar was struck and killed by a fleeing drug smuggler in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area near Yuma, Ariz., on January 19.
Strategic partnerships and operations were initiated or expanded to aid in deterring, detecting, or apprehending would-be illegal aliens. One such program is Operation Streamline. Under the auspices of Operation Streamline, illegal aliens who are amenable to prosecution guidelines, are charged with illegal entry and must appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge prior to being removed from the United States. There more than were 74,000 illegal aliens prosecuted under Operation Streamline since the inception of the program. Operation Streamline was expanded from the Del Rio Sector to include all of Yuma and Laredo Sectors, and some of the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Similar programs were initiated in the Tucson Sector.
Another strategic program known as Operation Against Smugglers Initiative on Safety and Security continues to be embraced by both the United States and Mexico as a successful cross-border prosecution and deterrent to smugglers. In FY 2008, OASISS generated 483 principals presented for prosecution. Of these cases, 351 were accepted for prosecution.
Northern Border and Coastal Border operations also included several strategic operations and programs. Along the Northern Border, the Integrated Border Enforcement Teams program encompasses 15 regions along the Northern Border and is a multi-faceted law enforcement initiative comprised of both Canadian and American partners. The IBET is considered a “best practice” by both the Canadian and United States Governments.
Along our Coastal Borders, the Border Patrol continues to fortify relationships among our law enforcement partners through the Caribbean Border Interagency Group, which was created in 2006. CBIG continues to detect, deter, and apprehend smugglers of illegal aliens and contraband through a multi-agency partnership including the U.S. Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations, Office of Air and Marine, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Coast Guard, and the Department of Justice.
The Border Patrol was able to procure 30 Mobile Surveillance System units and 2,500 Unattended Ground Sensors. These detection systems are currently being deployed throughout the Border Patrol. The MSS represents the latest technology that combines ground surveillance radar, infrared/day cameras, and laser range finders/designators, creating a more complete situational picture for agents in the field.
The concentrated effort to construct infrastructure to aid in securing our Nation’s borders increased pedestrian fencing by 49 miles and vehicle fencing by 44.2miles, for a total of 216 and 154.2 miles along the Southwest Border, respectively.