Entries in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (3)


Fewer Illegal Immigrants Crossing Southwest Border

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There appears to be a rather sizable decline in the number of people trying to enter the United States illegally by crossing the southwestern border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics released on Monday indicate that in fiscal year 2011, fewer people tried to cross the southwest U.S. border illegally, but those who did were often caught smuggling drugs or money.  The agency says border enforcement is much tougher because of increased manpower and its use of new high-tech tools such as surveillance drones.

The new numbers show that 340,252 people were detained at the border this fiscal year.  That number represents a 58 percent decline since 2008, and a significant drop from the 1.6 million caught in 2000.

Immigration experts say such declines likely result from a combination of the struggling U.S. economy and increased border enforcement, beginning under the Bush Administration and continuing under President Obama.

Since 2004, the CBP says, the size of the border patrol has doubled to 21,444 -- an increase of 886 agents from fiscal year 2010.

But while arrests are down, the numbers reveal that a higher percentage of those arrested were drug smugglers or other kinds of criminals.  CBP officers and agents seized nearly five million pounds of narcotics -- a 20 percent increase from fiscal year 2010 -- and confiscated more than $126 million in undeclared currency.

At all ports of entry, CBP officers arrested 8,195 people wanted for crimes, including murder, rape, assault and robbery.

Using high-tech enforcement tools such as aerial surveillance drones has had a significant impact on catching bad guys at the border.

According to CPB, unmanned drones now cover the southwest border all the way from California to Texas, providing critical intelligence to agents on the ground.  The drone program contributed to the seizure of more than 7,600 pounds of narcotics and the apprehension of 467 individuals involved in illicit activities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Congress: Border With Canada the Weak Link In Terror Security

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A congressional study out Tuesday says only 32 of the 4,000 miles of border with Canada are fully secured by the U.S. Border Patrol, providing a potential pathway for terrorists to enter this country. The General Accounting Office study was released by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

"The northern border provides easy passage for extremists, terrorists and criminals who clearly mean to harm America," Lieberman said. He added while most of the nation's concern has been focused on threats from our border with Mexico, he believes lax security on the northern border is potentially more dangerous.

"To me this report is absolutely alarming. The risk of terrorist activity across the northern border is actually higher than the terror threat on our southern border."

Lieberman said he based that judgment on several factors: there are more identified Islamic extremist groups in Canada than in Mexico; the northern border has only "a fraction of the security" that is in force on the southern border; and the northern border is dotted with large population centers, which makes it harder to detect illegal activity.

The GAO report took the Department of Homeland Security to task for not effectively coordinating the many U.S., Canadian and local law enforcement efforts to secure the border, citing numerous gaps and duplications of effort.

Lieberman and Collins called for improvements, and for more federal dollars to be directed to the northern border. Lieberman said, “We ought to have systems in place that lets us know when someone comes across illegally, then we can try to catch them."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Drug Smugglers Use Catapult to Launch Bales of Pot Across Border 

Photo Courtesy - John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Grainy surveillance video shows drug smugglers putting a new twist on their crime by using a catapult to launch small bales of marijuana across the Arizona-Mexico border

The video was taken the night of Jan. 21 by National Guard troops monitoring a series of surveillance cameras near Naco, Ariz., officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

The black-and-white video shows at least four men near an SUV loading a three yard catapult and flinging the pot over the border fence.

Border Patrol agents contacted Mexican authorities to thwart the smugglers, officials said.

The men reportedly fled from the area to avoid apprehension, officials said.

Mexican police seized approximately 45 pounds of marijuana, the catapult and the SUV belonging to the smugglers. The catapult was found on a flatbed towed by the SUV.

Border Patrol officials said that none of their cameras detected anybody on the U.S. side of the border, but they believe people were expected to pick up the drugs at a later time.

The disovery of the catapult is one of several innovative ways that smugglers have devised to get their drugs across the border.

In November of last year, officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered an 1,800-foot underground tunnel linking a warehouse in Otey Mesa, Calif., with a similar sized building in Tijuana, Mexico. The discovery of the warehouses and tunnel netted officials 30 tons of marijuana worth $20 million.

DEA officials said the Mexican side of the tunnel was equipped with rails and lighting to send drug sleds toward the U.S. side of the tunnel, which DEA officials described as a crawl space.

DEA officials said they believe the tunnel had been completed recently and may have been in operation for about a month before it was discovered. ´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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