Border patrol says drug seizures up 63 percent this year

| 7/15/2009

The federal agency charged with managing and patrolling the U.S. border says its drug seizures are way up, while illegal immigration has decreased.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday that it has seized 3.3 million pounds of drugs during the first three quarters of the 2009 fiscal year – up 64 percent compared with the same fiscal year 2008.

“What we are seeing is a result of increased border enforcement’s deterrent effect on illegal border crossing along with the result of our increased ability to confront continued illegal drug smuggling attempts across our borders,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Jayson Ahern.

“We will continue to increase the pressure on drug and human smugglers by confronting them at every turn, including their attempts to smuggle weapons and bulk cash south of the border.”

CBP busted 2.6 million pounds of marijuana; 60,411 pounds of cocaine; 4,384 pounds of methamphetamines; and 1,463 pounds of heroin. During the same period, CBP officers identified and denied entry to 129,779 “inadmissible aliens” at U.S. ports of entry, including 23,386 who had criminal backgrounds.

The agency’s biggest marijuana seizure this year was on March 25, when CBP officers found 10,764 pounds of pot on a commercial tractor-trailer at the Otay Mesa, CA, port of entry. The trailer’s front wall had a hidden compartment with 1,080 packages of marijuana behind a legal cargo load of toilet paper rolls.

The agency seized $43.9 million in bulk cash for the fiscal year.

CBP doesn’t limit enforcement only to cash, drugs or weapons.

The agency’s agricultural specialists intercepted 26,557 quarantine materials including eggs, raw chicken, pork products, animal hides and prohibited plants during the first three quarters of fiscal year 2009.

CBP processed 6.6 million commercial vehicle entries.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer