Border Patrol: Increase in drug seizures, decrease in border-crossers in 2011

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said an increase in illegal drug seizures and a decrease in illegal border-crossers in fiscal year 2011 is due to one of the largest upticks in manpower and resources along the country’s borders.

Apprehensions along U.S. borders were down 53 percent — to about 340,000 —since fiscal year 2008. More than 87,000 of those had criminal histories. The decrease is due to a more secure border, which results in less people attempting to cross into the U.S. illegally, the CBP said in a statement.

Drug seizures jumped by 20 percent — to 5 million pounds of narcotics — since the last fiscal year, with the CBP confiscating $126 million in undeclared currency.

Over the past fiscal year, CBP has added 886 Border Patrol agents to its 21,444-strong force, with a bulk of them deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to stymie illegal drug, weapon, money and human smuggling. 

In addition to manpower, CBP lauded technological advances along the border, such as “mobile surveillance units, thermal imaging systems, and…non-intrusive inspection equipment.”

Unmanned aerial vehicles operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) flew more than 4,400 hours in the fiscal year 2011, which is 75 percent more time in the sky than last fiscal year. More than 7,600 pounds of illegal drugs were seized as a result and more than 450 people were apprehended.

Counted among the CBP’s “Top 10” list of drug seizures and one of the most significant of the year was a series of confiscations, in which agents seized 7,500 pounds of marijuana and 60 pounds of cocaine, for an estimated $8.5 million worth of drugs.

One of the top apprehensions was the arrest of a 54-year old Virginia man accused of raping a 12-year old. The man was captured at Dulles-International airport returning from a trip to Bolivia.

In that same week at the D.C. airport CBP officers seized $3,000 in Iranian jewelry — which violated U.S. sanctions — and fined a passenger arriving from Ethiopia for attempting to bring in nearly 7 lbs. of cooked antelope and crocodile meat.