Tonawanda News

Local News

February 17, 2013

U.S. Customs and Border Protection units have a banner year in 2012


Tonawanda News — Outside the official border crossing, agents from the Buffalo Sector Border Patrol were racking up a record level of arrests. Agents made 1,143 arrests, including eight gang members.

With increased manpower in the sector, agents also seized $67,065 in U.S. currency and 1,717 pounds of marijuana. The active agents spurred the sector to a 194 percent increase in prosecutions.

But it wasn’t just about arrests for Border Patrol agents. There were six water rescues in 2012, including one of a Cuban national, who tried to illegally enter into Canada from the United States by swimming across the Niagara River.

Agents also assisted a Youngstown Level Regatta participant who suffered a traumatic head injury while sailing aboard a boat on Lake Ontario. 

The CBP Buffalo Sector Marine Unit may have helped save Christmas by rescuing a surfing Santa Claus from the Niagara River as well.

On Dec. 23, while patrolling the Niagara River, marine interdiction agents looking for smugglers found themselves confronted with a Canadian citizen dressed as Santa Claus, who was windsurfing near Strawberry Island. Unfortunately for Santa, the mast on his windsurfing board broke and he fell into the water. 

The agents where able to pull him from the 42-degree water and return him safely to shore. 

The Buffalo Air Branch assisted the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and state and local police agencies in actions that resulted in 94 arrests and the seizures of more than $1.3 million in U.S. currency, 5,073 pounds of marijuana, 36.3 pounds of cocaine, one pound of heroin, two vehicles and seven weapons.

The Air Branch also assisted in the rescue of six people from Lake Ontario after their small boat sank. 

As busy as the Air Branch was in 2012, the Buffalo Marine Branch assisted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, as well as state and local police agencies in seizures totaling $857,368 in U.S. currency, 462 pounds of marijuana, 26 pounds of cocaine, three pounds of other drugs, four weapons and one vehicle. 

The Marine Branch also assisted the U.S. Coast Guard in six different life-saving situations during the 2012 boating season.

The agency even scored big in the Erie County Tactical SWAT Competition, where a team of Border Patrol agents took first place. The agents competed in six-different team events against the “best of the best” in the local law enforcement community.

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