Tonawanda News — On the land, in the air, and on the water, 2012 was a busy year for the officers and agents in the Buffalo Sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The sector stretches along more than 400 miles of a shared border with Canada, from eastern Pennsylvania up to Lake Champlain. It includes 17 land border crossings, among them, the four international bridges of the Buffalo-Niagara region.
Add to that the CBP Buffalo Air and Marine Branch, which is responsible for covering more than 340 miles of maritime international border on the Niagara River, St. Lawrence Seaway, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and you get a sense of the scope of the agency’s local misson.
Customs’ Buffalo Office of Field Operations is charged with protecting the land border crossings. The local bridges here are some of the busiest crossings in the U.S.
During 2012, Field Office officers processed approximately 9.4 million personal vehicles, 19.9 million passengers in those vehicles and 1.5 million commercial trucks.
In the process of doing that job, the officers used targeted operations and advanced technology to seize narcotics, intercept agricultural products that could cause environmental harm and arrest wanted criminals and immigration violators.
One high-profile arrest occurred in the Falls at the Rainbow Bridge.
On Oct. 11, CBP officers encountered a man as he was attempting to re-enter the United States in a taxi. A record check by the officers on the bridge showed the man was wanted by the Massachusetts State Police in connection with a murder investigation.
He was arrested and is awaiting extradition back to Massachusetts.
To the north, at the Alexandria Bay Bridge, CBP officers arrested a man wanted for sexual exploitation of minors. The 52-year-old was accused, in Florida, of 40 separate acts of sexual exploitation of minor.
At Lake Champlain, officers nabbed a man wanted by the FBI for multiple crimes including capital murder. The suspect faced charges of aggravated bank robbery, use of a firearm during the commission of a felony crime, felony possession of a firearm during the commission of a bank robbery and attempted murder of a police officer.