New Customs fingerprint system catches 23,500 suspects at border

| 12/28/2004

Federal Customs and Border Protection officials using a new electronic fingerprint system caught more than 23,500 criminal suspects at U.S. borders during a 91-day period earlier this year, the agency announced recently.

Those apprehended were all foreign nationals who the agency said had criminal records. The agency used the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, a device that scans all 10 fingerprints and compares it with Customs and FBI databases, agency officials said in a release.

The system is designed to enable Border Patrol agents to quickly identify people who have outstanding warrants against them or who have criminal histories. The system electronically compares their fingerprints with the national databases.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner called the system a “critical law-enforcement tool for our CBP Border Patrol agents.”

According to the agency, among those captured using the system during the period – which ran from September to November 2004 – were 84 homicide suspects; 37 kidnapping suspects; 151 sexual assault suspects; 212 robbery suspects; 1,238 suspects for assaults of other types; and 2,630 suspects implicated in narcotic-related charges.

– By Mark H. Reddig, associate editor