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Tag: CBP

Border Patrol Agent Awarded for Saving Migrant in Treacherous Waters

By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent from the El Centro Sector was awarded the agency’s highest honor for risking his own life to save a migrant who was drowning in the frigid, trecherous waters of a canal outside of El Centro. 

Agent C. Lara was assigned to the Calexico Border Patrol Station in February 2019 when he responded to a report of a man struggling to swim across the All-American Canal. 

After several attempts to pull the man to safety using a rescue disc, Lara jumped in the canal, despite dangerous underwater currents. 

“Agent Lara, disregarding the dangers of the swift water, swam toward the victim knowing that the individual would soon give in to exhaustion and be pulled under,” CBP said in a news release Tuesday. “Agent Lara took hold of the man and pulled him from imminent danger. Agent Lara’s heroism and disregard for being pulled under himself most certainly saved the man’s life. Agent Lara went beyond the call of duty by risking his own life to save the life of another.”

Lara was presented with the Newton-Azrak Award.

Border Patrol Agents Rescued 200+ People Stranded During Historic Storm

By Steve Neavling

Border Patrol agents have rescued more than 200 people since a historic storm brought snow and frigid temperatures to Texas. 

“Big Bend Sector Border Patrol Agents have risked their own lives in the on-going effort to patrol the sector despite the winter weather,” CBP said in a news release. “Agents have successfully rescued over 200 people in recent days from dangerous conditions in the area, saving life and limb.”

Many of the people had been abandoned by smugglers or were lost as temperatures plummeted. Some called 911 for help.

Early Wednesday, agents from the Laredo South Station helped seven people who were lost south of Laredo. An agent from the Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station in New Mexico is credited with saving the life of a woman with hypothermia who was stranded in the desert during a snowstorm. 

“In addition to the physical and environmental risks faced by individuals hoping to cross illegally into the U.S., they are also vulnerable to life-threatening abuse and neglect by unscrupulous smuggling organizations,” Border Patrol said in a statement. “Criminal entities fill their pockets while exploiting a vulnerable population and have no regard for the safety of migrants. The criminal organizations often attempt to smuggle individuals inside trailers which with the recent low temperatures, the inside can become as cold as a freezer.”

CBP to End Surveillance Blimp Program Over High Costs

CBP’s surveillance climbs. Photo via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

CBP is discontinuing a seven-year-old program that funds the use of surveillance blimps in the Rio Grand Valley. 

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar said the Tactical Aerostats and Re-Locatable Towers (TAS) program has become too costly, GovernmentTechnology.com reports

“It’s a self-inflicted wound because you all went ahead and got into contracts with vendors and you are paying too much, and I’ve been telling you for years to slow down and lower the price,” Cuellar said about Border Patrol leadership. 

The aerostats, equipped with radars and high-resolution and infrared cameras, can fly up to 5,000 feet. 

Cuellar said private contracts were paid too much. 

“The balloon is already paid for and all you are doing is paying millions of bucks to bring it up and down,” Cuellar said of the TAS contract.

CBP’s budget for the program has been $29 million a year since 2013. 

Cuellar is hoping to eventually revive the program by ending the use of private contracts to reduce the costs. 

“So what are they going to do with these aerostats now? So there’s a lot of questions once they get fully staffed at Homeland. I want to go into this,” Cuellar said.

DEA Makes Largest Meth Bust in Its History – 2,224 Pounds

The DEA’s biggest methamphetamine seizure. Photo via DEA.

By Steve Neavling

The DEA on Wednesday announced the biggest methamphetamine seizure in American history: 2,224 pounds of the drug recovered in California.  

The Oct. 2 bust took place at stash houses in Riverside County that were connected with the Sinaloa cartel, The Los Angeles Times reports. The DEA also seized 13 pounds of heroin and 893 pounds of cocaine.

The announcement came just three days before CBP announced its second largest methamphetamine seizure on Oct. 9 at the Otay Mesa Port Entry in San Diego. CBP officers seized more than 3,100 pounds of methamphetamine, along with 64 pounds heroin, 29 pounds of fentanyl powder and 37 pounds of pills. 

Together, the seizures “are more than enough to provide a dose of meth for every man, woman and child in the United States and Mexico,” Timothy Shea, acting administrator of the DEA, said Wednesday at a news conference.

Authorities have seen a dramatic increase in methamphetamine seizures near the border. Last year, meth overdoses rose 25%, Shea said. 

CBP Arrests Armed Woman Accused of Sending Ricin to President Trump

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

CBP officers on Sunday arrested a woman accused of sending an envelope containing the poison ricin to the White House.

The woman was arrested with a gun in her possession soon after crossing the Canadian Border in Buffalo, The Associated Press reports.

The suspect’s identity had not been disclosed as of Monday morning. She is expected to be charged Monday.

The letter, which was addressed to President Trump, was intercepted at a mail-screening facility and traced back to Canada, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which helped the FBI investigate.

Ricin, which is derived from castor beans and has no antidote, can be deadly if inhaled or ingested.

CBP Makes Shocking Discovery in Suspicious Shipment from Thailand

Endangered primate found in a shipment of red peppers.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

CBP agents opening a suspicious shipment of chili peppers from Thailand made a shocking discovery: An endangered primate, numerous turtle bones, and dried frogs and insects.

The prohibited wildlife products were headed to Buffalo.

“Our agriculture specialists work to protect our U.S. crops and food supply each and every day,” Cincinnati Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Barbara Hassan said in a news release. “Often, we encounter shipments like these, which are of interest not only to CBP but to other federal agencies as well. Our specialists are trained to identify products of concern for more than 40 regulatory agencies, and they excel at pinpointing shipments that are worthy of a closer look.”

Authorities referred the shipment to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, where scientists identified the primate as an endangered lorisidae, a slim arboreal animal that lives in Southeast Asia and tropical, central Africa.

“U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inspectors, along with Customs and Border Protection, continue to produce excellent results by impacting the illegal wildlife trade,” Supervisory Wildlife Inspector Denise Larison said. “Wildlife trafficking remains a significant threat to thousands of plant and animal species around globe. Thanks to this great partnership, we were once again able to prevent the unlawful importation of protected species and disrupt the illegal market for these precious animals.”

Virtual Surveillance Towers Show Promise As Alternative to Steel, Concrete Border Walls

Construction of a border wall, via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Steel and concrete border walls get all the media hype, but a new mobile technology may prove to be a far more effective and inexpensive way to combat illegal immigration.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trying out telescoping surveillance towers on the Arizona border that can track illegal crossers with infrared and daytime cameras, along with laser range-finders, NPR reports. Capable of tracking a target miles away, the autonomous surveillance towers can be mounted on a pickup truck and operated remotely.

“The camera sees something, it’s going to alert and send that information to an agent in the field. So my iPhone will have an app on it and that information will come directly to me,” Kelly Good, deputy executive director of CBP’s Program Management Office Directorate, says.

Steel and concrete walls, however, appear to be the Trump administration’s priority.

“We now are in a time where we can build this virtual border wall technology. We have that already. I mean, you got the autonomous surveillance towers,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat from a border district, says. “But there’s political pressure from the White House. They’re saying, ‘Build me the wall. Get me miles.’ “

Government Watchdogs Investigating Use of Force by Federal Officers in Portland, Washington D.C.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The inspectors general of the Justice Department and Homeland Security have launched investigations into how federal agents have used force and detained protesters during demonstrations in Portland and Washington D.C.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is reviewing the use of force by U.S. Marshals in Portland and the FBI, DEA and ATF in Washington D.C., The Washington Post reports.

Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari is investigating allegations that CBP agents “improperly detained and transported protesters” in Portland, where protesters and federal officers have clashed over the past week.

In a joint statement, Democratic leaders in the U.S. House said the investigations are “critically important” as the Trump administration plans to deploy federal agents to additional cities, including Detroit, Chicago and Kansas City.

“Many of these federal agents are dressed as soldiers, driving unmarked vehicles and refusing to identify themselves or their agencies,” they wrote. “Nearly everywhere they have deployed, their presence has increased tensions and caused more confrontation between demonstrators and police.”

On Thursday night, a federal judge in Oregon issued a temporary restraining order barring federal agents in Portland from arresting or using force against journalists and legal observers.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security’s first secretary, Republican Tom Ridge, criticized the use of federal officers in cities without the consent of state and local officials.

“It would be a cold day in hell before I would consent or agree to the unsolicited, uninvited intervention in any of my cities,” Ridge told KDKA . “I certainly don’t favor that kind of action, and certainly don’t think DHS was designed for that purpose to start with.”