Enforcement results from Customs and Border Protection’s Buffalo Field Office reflect significant results in our efforts to protect our Nation’s Borders during the first quarter of fiscal year 2009.
James T. Engleman, director of field operations for the Buffalo Field Office said that, during this time frame, CBP officers processed approximately 4.9 million passengers, 1.9 million autos, 345,000 commercial trucks and 10,800 commercial buses. The Buffalo Field Office encompasses all 17 international land border crossings in the State of New York, from Buffalo to Champlain and Rouses Point.
CBP officers arrested 47 fugitives wanted for crimes including aggravated attempted murder, racketeering, conspiracy and organized fraud. Our apprehensions included the arrest of an individual wanted by INTERPOL in Pakistan and one arrested on child pornography charges.
CBP’s Buffalo Field Office reported the following accomplishments for the first quarter of FY 09, which started on October 1, 2008 and ended December 31, 2008:
- CBP officers prevented approximately 1,100 criminal aliens from entering the United States. Foreign nationals are considered criminal aliens if they have been convicted of committing crimes involving moral turpitude.
- Nine fraudulent documents were seized.
- 22 travelers were intercepted while making a false claim to United States citizenship.
- CBP officers prevented the entry of five foreign nationals who were identified as potential threats to national security.
- CBP officers arrested 27 people who attempted to smuggle contraband into the United States.
- CBP officers seized more than 350 pounds of hydroponic marijuana and 22 pounds of ecstasy were seized. The combined narcotics seized have an estimated street value of $1.7 million.
- CBP officers also seized over $700,000 of undeclared currency entering the U.S., nearly surpassing the $730,000 seized throughout all of fiscal year 2008. Officers also seized $113,000 in undeclared currency exiting the U.S.
- CBP agriculture specialists made more than 455 pest interceptions and issued 25 penalties for smuggling attempts.
- In one case in November 2008, CBP officers seized eleven endangered Asian arowana fish that were found concealed in a speaker box located in the trunk of the vehicle. The Asian arowana fish are covered under the Endangered Species Act in the United States and cannot be possessed without a permit.
Locally, Buffalo Port Director Joseph J. Wilson said that the Service Port of Buffalo, comprised of the Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge, Whirlpool Bridge and Lewiston Bridge, processed more than 1.2 million vehicles, more than 220,000 commercial trucks and 3.3 million passengers. CBP officer interdictions of narcotics smuggling attempts continues to increase, with CBP officers in Buffalo seizing more than 33,000 tablets of ecstasy in the first quarter of FY 09. Officers also seized $615,000 in unreported currency and arrested 36 wanted fugitives.
Alexandria Bay Port Director Alan Whitcomb noted that during the first quarter of FY 09 the Area Port of Alexandria Bay, which also includes the Massena and Ogdensburg border crossings, processed 436,000 passenger vehicles, 63,000 commercial trucks and nearly 1 million passengers. Officers also seized more than 230 pounds of hydroponic marijuana with a street value of nearly $700,000, seized approximately $70,000 in undeclared currency and arrested seven fugitives.
Acting Champlain Port Director Steven Bronson said that the Service Port of Champlain, which includes the 10 border crossings from Ft. Covington to Rouses Point, processed 244,000 vehicles, 84,000 commercial vehicles and 700,000 passengers. Officers also seized more than 23 pounds of ecstasy with a street value of nearly $625,000, approximately $133,780 in undeclared currency, and arrested seven wanted fugitives.
The final stages of the new Champlain port of entry construction project is nearing completion, with the majority of the work being completed in FY 08. This includes the reconstruction of the passenger processing facility, where both passenger vehicles and buses are processed. Completion of the construction project is slated for March 2009.
One of many significant seizures involved the smuggling of liquid Ketemine declared as “Holy Water.” CBP officers encountered a 50-year-old a lawful permanent resident of the United States at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge border crossing in Lewiston, N.Y. The subject declared 100 bottles of holy water, 42 of which later were determined to be the date rape drug Ketemine. This unique seizure made CBP’s list of Top 10 Enforcement Events of 2008.
In November 2008, CBP completed the deployment of vicinity Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology at all border crossings within the Port of Buffalo. The technology was installed in preparation for the full implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), slated for June of 2009. WHTI is a part of the plan to implement the statutory mandates of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004 and a 9/11 Commission recommendation, which requires U.S. and Canadian citizens to present secure documentation that confirms identity and citizenship when entering or re-entering the United States from within the Western Hemisphere.