PORT HURON, Mich. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Saint Clair County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service Thursday announced the recent launch of the Port Huron Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), which is dedicated to security at and around the port of entry.
The Port Huron BEST is comprised of officers and agents from federal and local agencies - responsible for identifying, interdicting and investigating a wide variety of transnational border crime including the illegal smuggling of drugs, persons, currency and weapons.
"The Coast Guard is dedicated to this unified effort," said Edward Songer, resident special agent in charge of the Coast Guard Investigative Service Detroit Office. "We are working with our task force partners on cross-border maritime enforcement using a three-pronged approach that leverages the full spectrum of intelligence, investigations, and enforcement operations. The strong partnerships forged through this task force will undoubtedly enhance future shared successes."
“Air and Marine Operations welcomes the establishment of the Port Huron BEST, which will leverage the talent, skills, technology and experience of our team members in a joint effort to dismantle criminal organizations that pose significant threats to our borders," said Mike Bishop, director of CBP's Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch.
"Border security takes a team approach in keeping our communities safe", said Christopher Perry, director of CBP's Field Operations. "CBP Officers are proud to take part in this successful program and we look forward to more collaborative efforts with our task force partners."
"Border Patrol participation in task forces such as these enables a strong and efficient flow of information and intelligence with our area law enforcement partners, and ensures that targets of interest to multiple agencies are addressed in the most effective manner possible," said Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison.
"We are pleased and proud to be a part of the BEST team," said St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon. "Working collaboratively with other agencies, both federal and local, will help to continue making our county safer for our citizens."
Two recent ongoing investigations include:
- The arrest of a Maryland man Jan. 23, on state felony identity theft related charges. Authorities found him possession of more than 76 fake checks and fraudulent drivers licenses. Further investigation resulted in an intercepted package destined for the man which contained an 105 additional fake checks and phony driver's license-making materials.
- The arrest of three North Carolina men Jan. 27 on state drug charges. The men were found in possession approximately 30 pounds of packaged marijuana, 15 pounds of marijuana edibles and 80 grams of hashish. The men allegedly travelled to St. Clair County to purchase marijuana from an illegal grow operation.
Forty-four BESTs currently exist throughout the country at major gateways to the United States like the Miami Seaport, the Southwest Border and the New York Seaport/Canadian Border.