#AceNewsReport – Apr.17: Agents seized the contraband and further coordinated with all partner agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, Homeland Security Investigations, the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, CBP’s Air and Marine Operations, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police:
Coast Guard assists CBP, multiple agencies seize meth worth $1.7 million near Port Angeles, WA: ‘After receiving information that suspicious bags were observed near the beach on Apr. 11, a Border Patrol agent arrived and deployed his K-9 partner. The Border Patrol K-9 led the agent to multiple bags and alerted to the presence of narcotics. The bags contained 342 pounds of methamphetamine worth nearly $1.7 million’
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 04/16/2021 06:32 PM EDTNews Release
Coast Guard assistsCBP, multiple agencies seize meth worth $1.7 million near Port Angeles, WA
“This seizure highlights the great work the United States Border Patrol conducts with its U.S. and Canadian law enforcement partners.” said Chief Patrol Agent David S. BeMiller. “Trans-national criminal organizations capitalizing on this vulnerable area by smuggling narcotics are a danger to the community. By focusing on border security, we are enhancing national security.”
Coast Guard assets and crews that contributed to the effort were:
Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound
Coast Guard Cutter Blue Shark crew
Coast Guard Cutter Adelie crew
Coast Guard Station Port Angeles boatcrews
Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles aircrews
“I am incredibly proud of our United States Coast Guard team working in conjunction with both our U.S. and Canadian law enforcement partners to secure the maritime border,” said Rear Adm. Anthony Vogt, commander, 13th Coast Guard District. “The operations of trans-national criminal organizations are on-going regardless of the COVID pandemic. The women and men of the United States Coast Guard will continue to protect the communities we serve and disrupt these illegal activities taking place in the maritime domain.”
#AceNewsReport – Apr.16: The man was processed criminally for 8 USC 1326, Reentry of Removed Aliens and will be held in federal custody pending his hearing:
CBP Agents Capture Sex Offender: ‘The incident occurred at approximately 9:03 p.m., when agents assigned to the El Centro Station encountered a man who illegally entered the United States 29 miles west of the Calexico Port of Entry: Agents placed the man under arrest and transported him to the El Centro Sector centralized processing center for further processing’
Records checks revealed that the man, a 29-year-old illegal alien from Mexico, previously convicted on May 20, 2015, for CRIMINAL SEXUAL ASSAULT, out of Waukegan, Illinois. The illegal alien was sentenced to 54 months’ prison for his sex crime:
In fiscal year 2021, which began Oct. 1, 2020 El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents arrested and/or removed 18 individuals either convicted or wanted on sexual offense charges.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.15: Our vigilance and patrolling operations cover the whole archipelago of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands,” stated Johnny Morales, Director, Air and Marine Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch. “We leverage our advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities to detect and interdict them throughout our coastal borders.”
AMO Interdicts Vessel Seizing $1.2 Million Near Stumpy Bay St. Thomas; Three Men Arrested on Wednesday on the evening of Apr. 7, an AMO Marine Patrol Aircraft (MPA) crew detected a 22-foot center console vessel, with 3 persons visible on board, navigating at high speed towards St. Thomas’
The Marine Patrol Aircraft crew maintained surveillance contacting a St Thomas AMO Marine Unit in order to interdict.
AMO Agents reached Stumpy Bay, where they found a Ford Explorer traveling rapidly up a dirt road from the beach. The vehicle occupants fled and a search ensued. AMO Agents discovered 3 bags in the rear compartment which contained bulk U.S. Currency in shrink wrap.
With the assistance of CBP Field Operations, Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration agents and officers, three men were arrested.
Homeland Security Investigations assumed custody of the subjects and currency for further investigation.
AMO safeguards our Nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft, and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO conducts its mission in the air and maritime environments at and beyond the border, and within the nation’s interior.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 official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.15: Friday afternoon, McAllen Border Patrol (MCS) agents apprehended a group of 14 illegal aliens near Hidalgo, Texas. During processing, agents discovered that one subject, a Honduran national, had a prior arrest by the Brooklyn Park Police Department (BPPD) in New York in 2018. BPPD charged the subject with criminal sexual conduct, a 3rd degree felony. The subject was convicted and sentenced to 15 months confinement. Within the group was a child traveling by himself:
USBP Arrests Convicted Sex Offenders and a MS-13 Gang Member in RGV: ‘Friday morning, Fort Brown Border Patrol agents arrested a male Salvadoran national near Brownsville, Texas. Record Checks revealed the subject, later identified as Guzman-Gomez, Nelson, was convicted in Harris County, Texas, for aggravated sexual assault with a child under 14 years old. Guzman-Gomez was convicted and sentenced to five years confinement’
On Saturday morning, Border Patrol agents assigned to the Falfurrias station arrested a subject on a ranch near Falfurrias, Texas, attempting to circumvent the checkpoint. Record checks revealed the subject was arrested for aggravated sexual assault in the 1st degree by the Englewood Police Department in Bergen, New Jersey. The subject was convicted and sentenced to 9 years confinement.
MCS agents also apprehended a subject from El Salvador, who’s record checks revealed, he is a Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang member. Subject was taken to the McAllen Border Patrol Station to be interviewed and processed.
Border Patrol processed all subjects accordingly.
Even with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, human smugglers continue to try these brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger nor to the health of the citizens of our great nation. The U.S. Border Patrol agents of the Rio Grande Valley Sector will continue to safeguard the nation and community against these criminal elements.
Coast Guard Cutter Forward returns home after two-month patrol: ‘The crew of the Forward worked in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) and the Canadian Navy to execute the mission, resulting in the seizure of 6,800 pounds of cocaine, 5,300 pounds of marijuana, two pounds of methamphetamine and the detainment of 14 suspected drug smugglers’
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 04/13/2021 12:20 PM EDTNews Release
Coast Guard Cutter Forward returns home after two-month patrol
Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.
“These deployments highlight our successful interoperability with multiple domestic and international partners all committed to curbing the flow of illegal drugs to our borders,” said Lt. Vincent Zieser, the operations officer and lead coordinator aboard the Forward. “We certainly enjoyed their support and teamwork.”
U.S. Southern Command began what was then known as Enhanced Counter-Narcotics Operations in the Western Hemisphere to increase drug traffic disruption on April 1, 2020. This counter Transnational Criminal Organizations operational approach, which is now enduring, supports objectives to degrade the capabilities of TCOs and ultimately save lives. With increased presence, collaborative efforts have bolstered support to U.S. and partner nations’ law enforcement agencies by sharing information and intelligence. Key partners have been involved in over 60 percent of drug disruptions since April 2020, an increase of 50 percent from 2019. By strengthening partnerships, we maximize regional coverage and increase effectiveness.
There are numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.
The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard
The Forward is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth. The cutter’s primary mission includes search and rescue, illegal drug interdictions, alien migrant interdictions, ensuring safety of life at sea and enforcing international and domestic maritime laws.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.10: CBP experiences have helped us be better prepared for the challenges we face this year,” said CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy Miller. “We are committed to balancing the need to maintain border security, care for those in our custody, and keep the American people and our workforce safe.”
CBP Announces March 2021 Operational Update: Today U.S. released operational statistics for March 2021, which can be viewed here.
CBP Enforcement Numbers
In March 2021, CBP encountered more than 172,000 persons attempting entry along the Southwest border. This total represented a 71 percent increase over February 2021.
The number of encounters at the border has been rising since April 2020 due to reasons which include violence, natural disasters, food insecurity, and poverty in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Central America. This fiscal year CBP has already had over 569,800 encounters. This represents an increase of 24 percent from the total encounters we had during all of Fiscal Year 2020, when migration was limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, and an increase of over 34 percent from approximately the same time frame of Fiscal Year 2019.
The majority of the encounters on the Southwest border remains single adults. CBP continues to expel single adults and family units that are encountered pursuant to CDC guidance under Title 42 authority. In March 2021, CBP expelled 103,900 individuals under Title 42, 28 percent of whom were individuals who had been previously expelled from the United States under the same authority. Title 42 expulsions represented 60 percent of the total encounters for the month.
CBP enforcement numbers for March 2021 can be found here.
CBP continues to see a significant increase of unaccompanied children from Central America at the Southwest border, with 18,890 in March 2021 – a 100 percent increase over February.
Although less than 11 percent of encounters in March were unaccompanied children, they make up the largest demographic group of individuals in custody at CBP facilities. CBP works in close coordination with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials to quickly transfer processed unaccompanied children to Care Provider Facilities. As bed capacity at these facilities has expanded, the 30-day average of children transferred out of CBP custody has increased, from 276 at the end of February to 507 at the end of March.
CBP has recently seen a return to encounters of large groups, especially in the Rio Grande Valley region. These groups of 100 or more individuals had dropped dramatically due to the pandemic, from 216 in Fiscal Year 2019 to 10 in Fiscal Year 2020. As of the end of March 2021, CBP recorded 49 large group encounters in Fiscal Year 2021, totaling over 4,700 individuals.
CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine Operations agents continue to interdict the flow of illicit narcotics across the border. Nationwide, drug seizures were down by 14 percent in March from February 2021. Cocaine interceptions increased 26 percent. Seizures of methamphetamine increased 91 percent. Seizures of heroin went up 22 percent and seizures of fentanyl decreased by 28 percent.
Additional CBP drug seizure statistics can be found here.
Effects of COVID-19 on CBP Personnel
The safety of our workforce, our communities, and individuals in our care is a top priority. CBP personnel put themselves and their families at risk with every encounter at the border. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 8,300 CBP employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and 28 have passed away.
CBP is focused on providing access to the COVID-19 vaccine to our workforce and is collaborating with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security to expedite the delivery of vaccinations to personnel.
DHS and CBP continue to work with local mayors and public health officials to provide COVID-19 testing and, as needed, isolation and quarantine for families released from CBP facilities.
Trade and Counterfeit Seizures
CBP continues to collaborate with federal partners and the trade community to facilitate the importation of legitimate medical supplies and other goods necessary for the COVID-19 response, while also verifying that those goods are authorized and safe for use. As part of that effort, CBP is interdicting fraudulent and unauthorized goods that could harm the health and safety of Americans. Between Jan. 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, CBP seized:
Nearly 178,000 FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits in 417 incidents. These items were either prohibited for not meeting legal requirements, or they were potentially unlicensed,
More than 34.6 million counterfeit face masks seized in 707 incidents,
37,000 EPA-prohibited anti-virus lanyards in 118 incidents,
Nearly 39,000 FDA-prohibited chloroquine tablets in 233 incidents,
Nearly 6,700 tablets of antibiotics, such as azithromycin in 111 incidents, and
Approximately 300,000 containers of hand sanitizer in 36 incidents.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.09: AMO operates the P-3 Long Range Tracker & Airborne Early Warning aircraft, which performs a wide variety of operational missions.
CBP Air and Marine Operations and Partners Seize Combined 4 Tons of Cocaine in Eastern Pacific: ‘Between February 27 and March 22, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) P-3 aircrews of the National Air Security Operations Centers (NASOC) partnered with federal and international authorities to disrupt four smuggling attempts in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and seized a combined four tons of cocaine, denying narcotics traffickers approximately $152 million in illicit proceeds’
The following events occurred in the Eastern Pacific Ocean in support of U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Counter Narcotics Operations:
On February 27, a P-3 Long Range Tracker crew on patrol assumed monitoring of a suspicious 40-foot go-fast vessel. The aircrew guided in U.S. Coast Guard small boat and helicopter crews for interdiction. Coast Guard Cutter Bear crew members apprehended three people and seized 881 pounds of cocaine and 12 pounds of marijuana.
On March 1, a P-3 Airborne Early Warning crew assumed tracking of a suspect vessel from a U.S. Navy P-8 aircrew and guided in a responding Coast Guard Cutter Munro team. The Airborne Early Warning crew handed off monitoring to a P-3 Long Range Tracker crew who vectored in a small boat team from one Cutter, and a helicopter from a second Cutter. Coast Guard teams apprehended four suspected drug smugglers and seized 3,770 pounds of cocaine.
On March 9, while on patrol in the Pacific, AMO P-3 Long Range Tracker crews detected and tracked a suspicious 30-foot go-fast vessel. The Coast Guard Cutter Munro small boat crew and a Coast Guard helicopter intercepted the suspect vessel, detaining three suspected drug smugglers and seizing 1,486 pounds of cocaine.
On March 21, a P-3 Airborne Early Warning crew detected and monitored a suspicious 50-foot vessel. The vessel’s crew began to throw suspected contraband overboard. The P-3 aircrew guided in Canadian Navy and U.S. Coast Guard crews from the Coast Guard Cutter Forward and a Canadian Naval vessel which located the debris field where 29 bales of suspected contraband were recovered and continued to pursue the suspect vessel. U.S. Coast Guard teams detained three suspected drug smugglers and seized 1,918 pounds of cocaine.
NASOC P-3 crew capabilities to detect and monitor smuggling activity over vast oceanic waters continue to prove essential to law enforcement in support of SOUTHCOM Counter Narcotics Operations. On April 1, 2020, SOUTHCOM began what was then known as Enhanced Counter Narcotics Operations in the Western Hemisphere to increase the disruption of drugs. This counter Transnational Criminal Organizations/counter narcotics operational approach, which has become enduring, supports our objectives to degrade the capabilities of Transnational Criminal Organizations and save lives. With our increased presence, we have bolstered support to U.S. and partner nation law enforcement by sharing information and intelligence to help expand target packages. Since then, our key partners have been involved in over 60% of drug disruptions since April 2020 (up from 50% in 2019). By strengthening partnerships, we counter threats together.
AMO has two P-3 NASOCs located in Jacksonville, Florida and Corpus Christi, Texas. These P-3 aircraft operate throughout North, Central and South America in defense of the borders of the United States and to prevent attempts to smuggle persons or contraband.
AMO safeguards our nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, AMO serves as the nation’s experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement.
In Fiscal Year 2020, AMO enforcement actions resulted in the seizure or disruption of 194,220 pounds of cocaine, 278,492 pounds of marijuana, 15,985 pounds of methamphetamine, 952 weapons and $51.5 million; 1,066 arrests; and 47,872 apprehensions of individuals.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.07: Agents assigned to the El Centro Border Patrol Station arrested a 46-year-old male, a citizen of Mexico, after he illegally entered the United States approximately 29 miles west of the Calexico Port of Entry. Agents placed the man under arrest and transported him to the El Centro Centralized Processing Center for further processing.
CBP Report: El Centro Sector Border Patrol Agents Arrest Convicted Rapist: U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the El Centro Sector arrested an illegal alien Monday afternoon with a prior convictions for a sexual offenses.
Record checks revealed that in 2007, the man was convicted in Hemet, California, of rape, sodomy, and oral copulation; all with a person under the age of 18. The man was subsequently sentenced to over nine years in prison for his crimes.
Additionally, the man was previously removed from the United States to Mexico in 2014.
As a convicted felon, the subject faces a charge of 8 USC § 1326 – Re-entry After Deportation, which carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
In fiscal year 2021, which began Oct. 1, 2020, El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents arrested and/or removed 17 individuals either convicted or wanted on sexual offense charges.
Please visit www.cbp.gov to view additional news releases and other information pertaining to Customs and Border Protection. For all news, information and updates, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @USBPChiefELC.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 official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.27: The U.S. Border Patrol vessel quickly reacted, as they were the closest first-responder in the area. Agents noticed a male and female aboard the disabled vessel and observed the vessel’s anchor was down but not holding due the strong current.U.S. Border Patrol Marine Unit, Buffalo, N.Y:
Boaters Rescued by U.S. Border Patrol Agents in the Upper Niagara River: ‘Yesterday, at 6:13 P.M., agents assigned to the Marine Unit were patrolling the upper Niagara River and received a radio-distress call from the U.S. Coast Guard. The distress call stated that a vessel, in the vicinity of Smith Boys Marina, was taking on water and two persons were aboard’
Agents maneuvered alongside the disabled vessel and observed it was in disrepair with no safe points to tie off or engage a tow. Due to the strong current and no other viable options, agents determined it was too dangerous to leave the boaters aboard and transferred them to the safety of the Border Patrol vessel. Agents then informed the U.S. Coast Guard that the disabled boat was still adrift, and they had transferred all persons to the Border Patrol vessel.
A short time later, the U.S. Coast Guard arrived and took control of the disabled vessel. The boaters had no apparent injuries nor required medical attention but were exhausted due to an unsuccessful attempt to paddle the boat to shore.
“Another great job by our agents,” said Patrol Agent in Charge Jeffrey Wilson of the Buffalo Border Patrol Station, “It shows the importance of having a well-maintained boat, because things can go real bad real-quick when the water is still cold, and the river current is unforgiving”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection welcomes assistance from the community. Citizens can report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol and remain anonymous by calling 1-800-331-0353 toll free.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.27: Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas released the following statement announcing that DHS will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to preserve and fortify DACA: “
Statement by Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas on DACA: We are taking action to preserve and fortify DACA. This is in keeping with the President’s memorandum. It is an important step, but only the passage of legislation can give full protection and a path to citizenship to the Dreamers who know the U.S. as their home.”
Rio Grande Valley Sector (RGV) Border Patrol agents recently encountered four large groups of illegal aliens: ‘70 Unaccompanied Children Encountered by Border Patrol Near the Rio Grande with 6-more stranded aliens three of them infants and a 9yr-old-child dies trying to cross from Mexico into Texas’
On Wednesday, RGV agents working near the Rio Grande, encountered two large groups of illegal aliens shortly after they made entry into the United States. Agents working near La Grulla, Texas, encountered the first group of 120 individuals early in the morning. The group consisted of 46 family members and 14 unaccompanied alien children (UACs). Hours later in Hidalgo Texas, agents encountered a second group of 134 people, consisting of 37 family members and 32 UACs. Seven of the UACs in this group were under the age of 12.
This morning, McAllen Border Patrol agents working near La Joya, Texas, encountered two more groups totaling 148 people. These groups also consisted of mainly family members and UACs. Border Patrol agents continue seeing an increase in UAC encounters along the border. This fiscal year, RGV has seen a 114% increase in UAC apprehensions compared to the same time frame last year.
McAllen UH-60 Crew Rescues Six Stranded Aliens, Three of Them Infants
EDINBURG, Texas – A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the McAllen Air and Marine Branch of Air and Marine Operations (AMO) rescued six illegal aliens that were stuck on a remote peninsula after illegally entering the United States.
Yesterday, a McAllen Air Branch based UH60 crew spotted a group of six illegal aliens, three infants and three adults, in distress in a Resaca near McAllen, Texas. Due to no access roads, and the apparent fatigue of the group, the crew elected to find the safest landing area and move to a low hover and deploy an AMO Aviation Enforcement Agent and two Office of Field Operations Special Response Team personnel.
The agents and officers used a crash axe to widen a landing zone, which allowed the crew to make a one-wheel landing. The deployed personnel assisted the migrants to the Black Hawk, and they were safely flown to the levee and handed over to US Border Patrol agents.
9-Year-Old Child Dies Trying To Cross Border Into Texas From Mexico, Officials Say
EAGLE PASS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A 9-year-old child died while trying to cross the Rio Grande into Texas from Mexico, federal officials said.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that patrol agents responded to three individuals who were unresponsive on an island on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande on March 20 near Eagle Pass.
Border Patrol processed all subjects accordingly.
~CBP~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 official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.
#AceNewsRepor – Mar.15: On March 7, CBP Officers encountered a 42 year old male who attempted to make entry at the Blue Water Bridge after being refused entry into Canada:
‘CBP Officers at Port Huron Seizes Handgun & Marijuana was seized at Blue Water Bridge’ have conducted a secondary vehicle examination and discovered an unregistered handgun, 32 rounds of 9mm ammunition and a container of peanuts which actually contained marijuana with a total weight of 27.29 grams’
‘Gun seized at Blue Water Bridge’
“This was a great team effort by our officers” said Acting Port Director John Nowak.
The handgun and marijuana were seized by CBP in accordance with federal law.
Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas Directs FEMA to Support Response for Unaccompanied Children: ‘The federal government is responding to the arrival of record numbers of individuals, including unaccompanied children, at the southwest border. Since April 2020, the number of encounters at the border has been rising due to ongoing violence, natural disasters, food insecurity, and poverty in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America. The federal government is working around the clock to move unaccompanied children from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) care and to place them with a family member or sponsor until their immigration case is adjudicated: The risks posed by the spread of #COVID19 have made this mission all the more difficult’
Last Published Date: March 13, 2021:
“I am grateful for the exceptional talent and responsiveness of the FEMA team,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “I am incredibly proud of the agents of the Border Patrol, who have been working around the clock in difficult circumstances to take care of children temporarily in our care. Yet, as I have said many times, a Border Patrol facility is no place for a child. We are working in partnership with HHS to address the needs of unaccompanied children, which is made only more difficult given the protocols and restrictions required to protect the public health and the health of the children themselves. Our goal is to ensure that unaccompanied children are transferred to HHS as quickly as possible, consistent with legal requirements and in the best interest of the children.”
FEMA is now integrated and co-located with HHS to look at every available option to quickly expand physical capacity for appropriate lodging. The workforce of DHS, including CBP, the Federal Protective Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and volunteers from across the Department through the DHS Volunteer Force, will help to provide shelter capacity, security, and other support as needed.
“It is never safe to come to the United States through irregular channels, and this is particularly true during a pandemic,” continued Mayorkas. “To effectively protect both the health and safety of migrants and our communities from the spread of COVID-19, individuals apprehended at the border continue to be denied entry and are returned.”
The journey that unaccompanied children undertake from their home countries is extremely dangerous, and the danger is more severe during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the public health imperative, adults and accompanied children are subject to COVID-19 related travel restrictions and are returned to Mexico under the statutory authority of the CDC.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.11: February marked the start of processing for migrants with active cases under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) through three ports of entry:
‘CBP Announces February 2021 Operational Update: Migrants are required to go through a staging and #COVID19 testing process before entry. If individuals appear at the port of entry without going through this process, they are not admitted. CBP also conducts biometric checks to confirm that individuals do not pose a threat to the American public. Anyone who poses a national security or public safety threat is detained and removed according to existing protocols which can be viewed here.’ To date, CBP has processed 1,500 individuals through this phased program’
“The United States is continuing to strictly enforce our existing immigration laws and border security measures,” said CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy Miller: “ Those who attempt to cross the border without going through ports of entry should understand that they are putting themselves and their families in danger, especially during the pandemic. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the border is not open, and the vast majority of people are being returned under Title 42. Do not believe smugglers or others claiming otherwise.”
CBP Enforcement Numbers
In February 2021, CBP encountered 100,441 persons attempting entry along the Southwest border. This total represented a 28 percent increase over January 2021. CBP completed 72,113 expulsions from the border pursuant to CDC guidance under Title 42 authority.
The number of encounters at the border has been rising since April 2020 due to ongoing violence, natural disasters, food insecurity, and poverty in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America. As it always has, the number of individuals crossing the border continues to fluctuate and CBP adapts accordingly.
CBP enforcement numbers for February 2021 can be found here.
Beginning in April 2020, CBP has seen an increase in encounters of unaccompanied children from Central America at the Southwest Border.
In Fiscal Year 2021 through February, 29,792 unaccompanied children and single minors have been encountered along the Southwest Border. Two thousand nine hundred and forty-two of these children are under the age of 12 years old and 26,850 are aged 13-17 years old.
DHS has continued its close coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as it increases its capacity to care for unaccompanied children and place them with sponsors. Our goal is to ensure that CBP has the continued capability to efficiently transfer unaccompanied children to HHS as quickly as possible, consistent with legal requirements and the best interest of the children.
Addressing unaccompanied children crossing our southwest border is an important priority of this Administration. It requires a coordinated and sustained whole-of-government response.
CBP officers, Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine Operations agents continued to interdict the flow of illicit narcotics across the border. Nationwide, drug seizures increased 50 percent in February from January 2021. Cocaine interceptions decreased 13 percent. Seizures of methamphetamine increased 40 percent. Seizures of heroin went up 48 percent and seizures of fentanyl decreased by 17 percent.
Despite the slight drop for February, CBP is seeing a drastic increase in fentanyl seizures this fiscal year – more than 360 percent higher than this same time last year. For all Fiscal Year 2020, CBP intercepted more than 4,700 pounds. Just five months into this year, CBP has seized nearly 5,000 pounds.
Additional CBP drug seizure statistics can be found here.
CBP continued to perform a large number of rescues of citizens and migrants in February 2021, with more than 893 rescues nationwide. Over the past year, CBP agents and officers have rescued more than 7,600 individuals, regardless of their circumstance or status.
Effects of COVID-19 on CBP Personnel
The safety of our workforce, our communities, and those in our care is a top priority. CBP personnel put themselves and their families at risk with every encounter at the border. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 8,000 CBP employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and 27 have died.
CBP is focused on providing access to the COVID-19 vaccine to our workforce and is collaborating with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security to expedite the delivery of vaccinations to personnel. To date, based on self-reporting, at least 23 percent of CBP’s front line personnel have been vaccinated.
Our policy is to protect our national and border security, address the humanitarian challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border, and ensure public health and safety.
DHS and CBP are working with local mayors and public health officials to provide COVID-19 testing and, as needed, isolation and quarantine for families released from Border Patrol facilities.
Trade and Counterfeit Seizures
CBP continues to collaborate with federal partners and the trade community to facilitate the importation of legitimate medical supplies and other goods necessary for the COVID-19 response while verifying that those goods are authorized and safe for use. As part of that effort, CBP is interdicting fraudulent and unauthorized goods that could harm the health and safety of Americans. Since the pandemic began until the end of February, CBP had seized more than:
177,500 FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits in 414 incidents. These items were either prohibited for not meeting legal requirements, or they were potentially unlicensed,
30 million counterfeit face masks seized in 611 incidents,
37,000 EPA-prohibited anti-virus lanyards in 118 incidents,
38,000 FDA-prohibited chloroquine tablets in 229 incidents,
6,000 tablets of antibiotics, such as azithromycin in 108 incidents, and
300,000 containers of hand sanitizer in 36 incidents.
CBP stated that these flight logs and a list of agencies it later prepared based on those logs represented all the missions the agency flew on behalf of non-CBP agencies. Yet after EFF and CBP briefed the remaining issues in the case in our Cross Motions for Summary Judgment and on the eve of the pivotal court hearing on those motions in December 2013, CBP announced it “discovered that it did not release all entries from the daily reports for 2010-2012” responsive to EFF’s FOIA request.
Not only do these new flight logs and the accompanying new list of agencies show a striking increase in the overall number of flights (700 versus 500), they also reveal a sharp increase in the number of flights for certain federal agencies like ICE (53 more flights than previously revealed) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (20 more flights). And they also reveal CBP flew 32 additional times on behalf of state and local agencies—including previously undisclosed law enforcement like the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota Drug Task Force. Unfortunately, CBP continues to withhold the names of many of these state and local agencies, arguing that revealing them would somehow impede ongoing investigations. However, as we pointed out in our summary judgment brief, disclosing that CBP was working with, for example, the Pima County, Ariz. Sheriff’s Department would not be specific enough to affect any particular criminal operation. It would hardly be surprising that CBP was working with Pima County because it shares a border with Mexico. It is also—at 9,200 square miles—one of the larger counties in Arizona and has one of the highest crime rates of any county in the country—a rate of 4,983 crimes per 100,000 people. Given the large geographic size of and crime rate in this county and others like it, it is hard to imagine that releasing information about which county sheriff’s department CBP is working with would enable suspected criminals in the area to link CBP’s drone surveillance to their particular criminal activity.
The newly-released records reveal other surprising facts, including that CBP was using its sophisticated VADER surveillance system much more frequently than previously thought and was using it for other agencies.This sensor, also known as Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar, was initially developed for use in the Afghanistan War and can detect the presence of people from as high as 25,000 feet. CBP has used this sensor in its surveillance operations since 2011 and used it at least 30 times for other agencies in 2012. The records CBP previously released to EFF contained no specific mention of VADER technology. As noted by the Center for Investigative Reporting, the system has several limitations—not the least of which is that “it can’t tell the difference between a U.S. citizen and non-citizen.”
The records also indicate that CBP’s drones appear plagued with problems; many of the logs indicate missions were terminated or cancelled due to undisclosed issues affecting both the aircraft (General Atomics was often called in to address issues with the Predators) and the surveillance equipment on board (Raytheon, which supplies the RADAR equipment for CBP’s drones was also called in). The VADER system had its own undisclosed problems.
CBP noted in a recent Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) that it generally flies its drones in support of its primary mission—“border security.” Yet these records indicate just how blurred that mission has become. This is problematic because, as CBP also notes, drones like Predators enable “the monitoring of large areas of land more efficiently and with fewer personnel than other aviation assets.”
As the use of Predators moves from maintaining security at the nation’s borders to general law enforcement elsewhere within the country, more and more people in the United States will be subject to drone surveillance. CBP states in its PIA that it stores data unassociated with a particular investigation for no more than 30 days, but much, if not most of this data will be associated with an investigation and may therefore be stored indefinitely—even if it includes footage of property, vehicles and people unassociated with the investigation.
CBP also states in the PIA that we shouldn’t be concerned about the privacy implications of its drones because their sensors cannot yet identify people. However, these sensors are becoming more sophisticated every day, and it won’t be long before surveillance capabilities like “facial recognition or soft biometric recognition, which can recognize and track individuals based on attributes such as height, age, gender, and skin color” are added to CBP’s arsenal. We need to address these issues before that happens.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein was concerned enough about drone surveillance to amend last term’s Senate Immigration Bill to restrict CBP’s flights in California to within three miles of the border. We should be similarly concerned about CBP’s flights throughout the country—especially when CBP still refuses to reveal exactly which state and local agencies it’s working with. We’ll be arguing just that point in the hearing on our Cross Motion for Summary Judgement in the case this coming Wednesday.