ABOARD A P-3 ORION, over the Pacific Ocean — The Division of Homeland Security is increasingly going global.
An estimated two,000 Homeland Safety workers — from Immigration and Customs Enforcement particular agents to Transportation Security Administration officials — now are deployed to far more than 70 nations around the world.
Hundreds a lot more are either at sea for weeks at a time aboard Coast Guard ships, or patrolling the skies in surveillance planes above the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
The expansion has produced tensions with some European nations who say that the United States is attempting to export its immigration laws to their territory. But other allies agree with the United States’ argument that its longer attain strengthens international security even though stopping a terrorist attack, drug shipment, or human smuggling ring from reaching American soil.
“Many threats to the homeland begin overseas, and that’s exactly where we want to be,” mentioned James Nealon, the department’s assistant secretary for international engagement.
A surveillance mission earlier this month with Homeland Safety agents in drug transit zones near South America highlights the department’s efforts to push out the border. Just right after takeoff from a Costa Rican airfield, a crew of agents aboard a Customs and Border Protection surveillance plane started tracking a low-flying aircraft that appeared to be headed south toward Ecuador.
The aircraft, which intelligence reports reviewed by agents indicated had no flight plan, flew just a couple of hundred feet above the ocean — an apparent attempt to steer clear of detection by radar.
“When they are flying that low, they’re probably up to no very good,” stated Timothy Flynn, a senior detection agent, watching the plane on a radar screen.
An hour later, and hiding in the cloud cover to keep out of sight, the American P-3 pulled up behind the plane. An agent with a extended-lens digital camera snapped a string of photos of the plane’s tail quantity and other identifying information. Mr. Flynn radioed the information to authorities in Ecuador who were waiting when the plane landed, arresting seven men and women and seizing a lot more than 800 pounds of cocaine aboard.
Ecuador might embrace the Homeland Safety agents, but other allies say the department’s foreign attain is a stretch.
In Germany, some lawmakers have questioned the department’s counterterrorism Immigration Advisory System, where travelers at foreign airports are investigated and sometimes interviewed by plainclothes Customs and Border Protection officers ahead of they are permitted to board flights to the United States.
Those American officers can suggest that airlines deny boarding to foreign passengers. A Government Accountability Office report found that the customs officers stopped 8,100 identified or suspected terrorists, or folks with connections to terrorist groups, from traveling to the United States in 2015, the most current year that information is accessible.
But Andrej Hunko, a member of the Germany’s Left Party, said the actions amount to an extrajudicial travel ban and accused the United States of moving its “immigration controls to European nations.”
Canadians flooded their prime minister’s office in August with letters and emails protesting legislation to permit American customs officers stationed at Canadian airports and train stations to query, search and detain Canadian citizens. Unnamed government officials told the Canadian Broadcasting System that the volume of mail received was “unprecedented” and took officials by surprise.
The measure passed two weeks ago soon after Ralph Goodale, Canada’s public security minister, assured Parliament that the American officers would seldom use their authority to question or detain Canadian citizens. Much more than 400 Homeland Security employees are stationed in Canada — the most of any foreign country — which Mr. Goodale known as a advantage to both nations.
“We face shared threats from drug smugglers, terrorists and human traffickers, and we could do issues over the telephone,” Mr. Goodale said in an interview. “But there are actual positive aspects to becoming able to meet and talk to individuals face to face as you deal with these safety threats.”
In Tanzania, Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators had been accused in May of using “Mafia-style” techniques for assisting to extradite suspects accused of drug smuggling to the United States just before their appeal to block the transfer was concluded.
The expenses of the Homeland Safety operations abroad also have raised concerns by critics in the United States.
A single congressional report found that the expense of stationing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent overseas is about four instances as costly as a domestic post. And in September testimony to the Property Homeland Security Committee, the National Treasury Employees Union raised issues about plans to deploy additional customs officers abroad amid “critical staffing shortages at the nation’s ports of entry.” The union represents 25,000 Customs and Border Protection personnel.
Lawmakers have asked Homeland Security officials to evaluate the costs and advantages of deploying thousands of personnel overseas although the department is looking to hire 15,000 new ICE and border patrol agents in the United States as component of President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said almost 1,000 agency staff are stationed abroad, far more than from any other a branch of the Division of Homeland Security. They screen passengers at airports, inspect cargo being loaded on ships bound for the United States and train other nations’ customs and border officials.
Furthermore, a particular tactical unit of border patrol agents, identified as BORTAC, has worked in nearly 30 nations to train in counterterrorism and counternarcotics missions.
Kevin Martinson, the Customs and Border Protection attaché at the United States Embassy in Nairobi, said a coaching system for Kenyan customs officials and its Rural Border Patrol has led to record seizures of narcotics and other smuggled goods.
Mr. Martinson, who coordinates the agency’s efforts in nine African nations, said the education has also helped Kenya safe its borders and guard against groups like the Shabab, a militant organization primarily based in neighboring Somalia. He mentioned the American-educated Rural Border Patrol lately repelled an attack by the extremists and captured a single of its assailants.
In South Africa, Homeland Safety Investigations unique agents who are stationed at the United States Embassy in Pretoria have targeted drug smugglers, wildlife traffickers and Nigerian scammers. The agents, who work for a division of ICE, are amongst 300 investigators in practically 50 countries worldwide.
Steve R. Martin, the particular agent in charge in Pretoria, said the unit’s role in a current operation to arrest Tanzanian drug smuggler Ali Khatib Haji Hassan is a case in point.
Investigators 1st started hunting into Mr. Hassan in 2012, after a member of his drug smuggling group was arrested at a Houston airport. Mr. Hassan, who is also recognized as “Shkuba” and had operated out of South Africa, was designated a main international drug kingpin final year by the Treasury Department.
According to court documents and interviews with Homeland Safety agents in Pretoria, Mr. Hassan ran a international drug smuggling organization that obtained massive quantities of heroin from sources in Pakistan and Iran, and cocaine from South American suppliers. Some of the drugs ultimately ended up on the streets in American cities and were traced back to Mr. Hassan’s organization.
He and two associates had been arrested by Tanzanian authorities all 3 men have been extradited to the United States in Could and are awaiting trial.
“You have to be on the ground and have the relationships with regional law enforcement for this sort of case,” Mr. Martin mentioned. “You can’t just parachute in.”
Mr. Hassan’s lawyer, Hudson Ndusyepo, has mentioned the men had been illegally transferred to the United States since their appeal to block the extradition was still pending in front of a Tanzanian court. Mr. Ndusyepo did not respond to requests for comment but told a regional newspaper in Dar es Salaam that his client had “not committed any offence in USA.”
Operations like the South African drug smuggling case have led the Department of Homeland Security to push to employ more Immigration and Customs Enforcement specific agents and analysts in embassy attaché offices in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — nations that serve as transit points for drugs and illegal migrants. Customs and Border Protection is also in search of to expand its presence at airports abroad.
For all of its foreign-primarily based programs and far-flung workers, the mission of the P-three surveillance plane could be the Department of Homeland Safety plan with the longest international reach.
The plane patrols far more than 42 million square miles in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean — an region almost 14 instances the size of the continental United States. Customs and Border Protection maintains a fleet of 14 such surveillance aircraft they are occasionally airborne for as extended as 12 hours in drug transit zones.
Last year, the P-three aircrews contributed to 145 drug seizures, helping American and foreign authorities capture a combined 34,108 pounds of marijuana and 193,197 pounds of cocaine, according to Customs and Border Protection records.
On its most recent mission out of Costa Rica, the surveillance crew tracked a tiny boat off the coast of Colombia. The boat sat low in the water, with 3 males aboard.
William J. Schneider, a P-three pilot, said the boat was likely carrying a huge load of cocaine as it created its way north toward Mexico, and ultimately to the United States. The Homeland Security agents notified the Colombian navy of its location, but flew on, unable to quit it alone.
Mr. Schneider mentioned these missions support in “catching drug loads at their largest.”
He continued: “If they make it to the border and get broken down into tiny packages, it is significantly tougher to stop.”
Published at Tue, 26 Dec 2017 18:56:18 +0000