SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a summary on Tuesday of fiscal year 2013 border enforcement efforts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, which reflect the agency’s focus on addressing threats, optimizing resources and building partnerships as it secured the nation’s borders and facilitated trade and travel.
This effort is possible through collaborative operations and partnerships with other Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, which have become an integral part of CBP’s procedures within the Caribbean, in order to generate reductions in illicit activity throughout the area.
“Throughout the year, the men and women of CBP played a decisive role in ensuring our nation’s security and prosperity,” said Acting Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski. “From border security to travel facilitation and trade enforcement, these numbers illustrate CBP’s combined efforts in 2013 to accomplish its critical mission.”
In Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, CBP officers and agents seized over 31,962 pounds of narcotics with an estimated street value of approximately $320 million and seized approximately $3.5 million in unreported currency in FY 2013, which runs from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013.
The CBP Office of Air and Marine (Caribbean Air and Marine Branch) played a major role in the determent of illegal activity throughout our coasts, through the coordinated use of integrated air and marine forces to detect, interdict and prevent the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs and other contraband in the area. Approximately 11,034 pounds of narcotics was seized by CAMB this fiscal year.
Ramey Border Patrol agents patrol coastal areas in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and work to secure a safer environment as they prevent, deter, and arrest illegal aliens and narcotics that try to enter our area. During FY 2013, Ramey agents apprehended 924 undocumented aliens between the ports of entry; prosecuting 73 for violating federal immigration law based on illegal reentry. This represents a 32 percent increase from FY 2012. Regarding drug seizures, over 588 pounds of narcotics were seized by Border Patrol agents during FY 2013.
CBP officers and agriculture specialists work to protect borders at the ports of entry while facilitating legitimate trade and travel. CBP processed approximately 4.7 million travelers and 106,000 containers through our ports of entry during FY2013.
During this time, CBP officers seized 20,339 pounds of narcotics and arrested 132 individuals, of which 24 were wanted for crimes, including murder, rape, assault, and robbery and denied entry to more than 2,083 people attempting to illegally enter the US through an air or sea port of entry in the area. Of those inadmissible aliens, 40 were prosecuted for criminal violations. Furthermore, $3.4 million of currency interdictions were reported and over 70 firearms were seized.
CBP agriculture specialists seized more than 16,677 prohibited plant materials, meat, animal byproducts and soil and intercepted nearly 3,140 pests. Approximately 11 insects intercepted at ports this year have been determined to be first time in port/nationwide and/or new pests.
Also this fiscal year, CBP in the San Juan Field Office processed nearly 117,486 imported product entries representing nearly $26.4 billion in regional trade volume. This volume represented the collection of $180,736,824 million in revenue for the US. CBP officers conducted more than 164 seizures related to intellectual property rights violations, with a domestic value of approximately $1.9 million.
At the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Puerto Rico this year, approximately 2,841 new travelers requested and were enrolled in the agency’s Trusted Traveler Programs (Global Entry) designed to expedite screening for low-risk travelers. CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs are designed to expedite screening for low-risk travelers through rigorous and recurrent background checks. In addition to providing benefits for members at ports of entry, members of CBP Trusted Traveler Programs are now eligible for the Transportation Security Administration's Pre-Check program for domestic travel at more than 100 US airports (Transportation Security Administration's Pre-Check)
In FY 2013, $55 million in Operation Stonegarden funding was provided to states to enhance cooperation and coordination among local, tribal, territorial, state and federal law enforcement agencies in a joint mission to secure the border. Puerto Rico received $835,259 expanding the scope of state and local police partners to work with the Ramey Border Patrol Sector. The grantees are the Puerto Rico Police Department Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym) and the municipalities Aguadilla, Lajas, Cabo Rojo, Ponce, Guánica, Yabucoa, Arecibo, Barceloneta and Manatí.
As a result of CBP’s Resource Optimization Strategy, the agency continues to bring advances in technology and automation to ports of entry, for example, the automation of the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record in FY 2013 that increases efficiencies and facilitates security and travel. In addition, CBP opened six new Centers of Excellence and Expertise in FY 2013. Including the four opened in FY 2012, CBP’s 10 centers cover the full range of commodities. The industry-specific centers serve as single points of processing for participating importers. They increase uniformity of practices across ports of entry, facilitate the timely resolution of trade compliance issues nationwide, and offer CBP important information on key industry practices to facilitate legitimate trade.
In the area of trade facilitation, during FY13 the San Juan Office of Field Operations pursued an aggressive trade outreach program, providing information on trade facilitation programs, and encouraging participation. One program highlighted, the Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism (C-TPAT), seeks to safeguard the world's vibrant trade industry from terrorists, developing and adopting best-practices that add security but do not have a chilling effect on trade, a difficult balancing act. The partnership establishes clear supply chain security criteria for members to meet and in return provides incentives and benefits like expedited processing.