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Agriculture Canine Team Stops Hidden Pork Products from Entering U.S.
U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

Nogales, Ariz. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the port of Mariposa discovered pork products on Monday, hidden in a cereal box.

CBP officers referred a vehicle with Utah plates for an additional inspection when the female driver attempted to enter the United States. Prior to the search, the woman said she had nothing to declare when asked again by the CBP officer. When the CBP agriculture canine searched the vehicle, it alerted to a cereal box containing nearly three pounds of pork products wrapped in a towel. The pork products were seized and destroyed. The driver was fined for failure to declare the prohibited agriculture product and released.

Originally part of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Beagle Brigade became part of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11. Not all CBP agriculture canines are beagles however other breeds may be used depending on where they are working. Along with their counterparts who work at international airports and mail facilities, CBP agriculture canines sniff out prohibited agricultural goods. On the Mexican and Canadian land border, they are also responsible for checking other modes of transport such as vehicle and bus.

When one of these specially trained canines detects prohibited agricultural items, it sits, as a passive response to alert its human partner – a CBP agriculture specialist. The specialist then inspects the item or vehicle to confirm the find. Travelers can be fined up to $1,000 on the spot if they did not initially declare the found prohibited items. The items are then confiscated and destroyed to eliminate the chance of spreading plant and animal pests or diseases.

CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in agricultural and biological inspection. Their historic mission of preventing the introduction of harmful plant and animal pests into the U.S. provides CBP with the expertise to recognize and prevent the entry of organisms with a potential to devastate entire segments of our agriculture-related economy.

CBP's Office of Field Operations is the primary organization within Homeland Security tasked with an anti-terrorism mission at our nation’s ports. CBP officers screen all people, vehicles and goods entering the United States while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Their mission also includes carrying out border-related duties, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration and trade laws, and protecting the nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases.

USDA Dedicates April to Increasing Awareness on How to Stop Invasive Pests from Spreading
U.S. Department of Agriculture /

WASHINGTON, APRIL 02, 2013 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today proclaimed April as “Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.” All month, APHIS will highlight how invasive species can enter the United States and spread, and how the general public can take simple, specific actions to leave these hungry pests behind. Invasive pests and diseases are non-native species that cause - or are likely to cause - harm to the economy, the environment or human health.

“At its core, APHIS' mission is protecting animal and plant health in the United States,” said Acting APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea. “This includes programs to address the invasive pests and diseases that have cost the United States billions of dollars in lost agricultural jobs, closed export markets and damaged ecosystems. It’s a huge job, and APHIS needs the help of the public to be successful.”

Devastating invasive pests and diseases - insects, disease-causing microorganisms, snails, slugs, mites, microscopic worms, weed seeds and fungal spores - often hitch rides on things people move and pack. These common pathways include passenger baggage; plants and plant parts like fruit, vegetables and bud wood; Internet-purchased plants and plant products; firewood; and outdoor gear, among many others. Fortunately, once people are aware of these risks, they can easily prevent the spread of hungry pests.

Visit the Hungry Pests website, which is available in English and Spanish, at to view an interactive map and learn about invasive pests and diseases that are affecting or could affect individual states, and how to report them. The website’s "What You Can Do" section offers the public "Seven Ways to Leave Hungry Pests Behind." Also, by using Facebook and Twitter links, visitors can engage on the invasive pest issue on social media.

APHIS safeguards U.S. agricultural and natural resources from risks associated with the entry, establishment or spread of agricultural pests and diseases, as well as invasive and harmful weeds. In this battle, the agency works very closely with its many partners at the federal, state, county and local levels, and at universities and nongovernmental organizations. APHIS has had many successes combatting invasive plant pests and diseases, including the eradication of the Asian longhorned beetle in Illinois, New Jersey and Islip, New York; numerous exotic fruit fly outbreaks in Florida, Texas and California; the wheat disease Karnal bunt in Texas and California; plum pox virus in Pennsylvania and Michigan; the boll weevil from all 17 cotton-producing states with the exception of Texas' Lower Rio Grande Valley; and Khapra beetle infestations in a number of states. APHIS is also closing in on the eradication of the European grapevine moth in California.

With Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's leadership, APHIS works tirelessly to create and sustain opportunities for America's farmers, ranchers and producers. Each day, APHIS promotes U.S. agricultural health, regulates genetically engineered organisms, administers the Animal Welfare Act, and carries out wildlife damage management activities, all to help safeguard the nation's agriculture, fishing and forestry industries. In the event that a pest or disease of concern is detected, APHIS implements emergency protocols and partners with affected states and other countries to quickly manage or eradicate the outbreak. To promote the health of U.S. agriculture in the international trade arena, APHIS develops and advances science-based standards with trading partners to ensure America’s agricultural exports, valued at more than $137 billion annually, are protected from unjustified restrictions.

The Port Authority and Legends Give an Exclusive Preview of One World Trade Observatory

The Port of Authority - New York/New Jersey /

A behind-the-scenes look at the world-class observation deck  from the 100th floor of One World Trade Center

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, The Durst Organization, and Legends provided guests and media today with an exclusive preview of One World Observatory from the 100th floor of One World Trade Center.

Attendees included Port Authority Chairman David Samson and Vice Chairman Scott Rechler, Durst Chairman Douglas Durst, Legends Chairman and CEO Dave Checketts and board members of the Legends Board of Directors including Hal Steinbrenner, Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, Randy Levine, Anthony Bruno and Jerry Jones, Jr.

Guests took in the breathtaking views from the top of the iconic building and watched the debut of the future observatory experience on big screen projectors while gathered more than 1,250 feet over Lower Manhattan. Construction on the facility will begin in early 2014, and when open in 2015, One World Observatory will provide millions of visitors with the ultimate observatory deck experience on floors 100-102.

The video presentation provided attendees with a first look at the state-of-the-art guest experience, including the “Skypod” elevators that give visitors a thrilling virtual experience of being outside the building as they make their ascent and descent in a quick 60 seconds.

The observatory will include a pre-show theater called “See Forever” where guests will learn about the history and stories of the building and experience dramatic viewing galleries. One World Observatory will also offer multiple spaces that offer stunning panoramas of the entire New York City region. The observation deck also will include a multitude of dining options, an opportunity to acquire One World memorabilia, and a premier event space.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called on the Port Authority Board of Commissioners to approve the agreement when the matter went before the Board on March 20. The Board voted to select the nationally renowned Legends to develop and operate the observation deck atop what will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere when it reaches its final height of 1776 feet.

“One World Observatory will be a magnificent facility, a championship-caliber attraction that will make Lower Manhattan a premiere destination for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “This spectacular venue is yet another step forward in the rebirth of the World Trade Center, of Lower Manhattan, and demonstrates the remarkable resilience of America.”

“This tower, a monument to dedication and rebirth stretches far beyond the bi-state region,” said Governor Chris Christie. “It would not be complete without an extraordinary observation deck. One World Observatory will be one of the region’s premier attractions, providing people from around the globe with a one of kind entertainment experience offering visitors breathtaking panoramas of New York and New Jersey, dining and a fitting tribute to the history of the World Trade Center site.”

“Today is truly a landmark day for the Port Authority and for the people of New York and New Jersey,” said Port Authority Chairman David Samson. “It has been wonderful to see this private-public partnership with Legends Hospitality reach fruition, and we are very excited to share our vision, and some of the greatest views on the planet, with the millions of people who will visit One World Observatory each year.”

“Legends is owned by two of the most well respected and prolific organizations in sports history, and it’s clear that Legends intends to bring that same level of prestige, tradition and excitement to One World Observatory,” said Port Authority Vice Chair Scott Rechler. “The One World Observatory experience will be the Yankee Stadium of observation decks, a world-class destination.”

“We look forward to working with Legends at One World Trade Center,” said Douglas Durst, chairman of The Durst Organization. “The Observation deck will be one of the most exciting attractions in New York City and a terrific addition to Lower Manhattan.”

“We are extremely honored to be selected to operate One World Observatory,” said Dave Checketts, Chairman and CEO, Legends. “Our company was built on providing best-in-class services at two of the highest profile stadiums in the world. We intend to bring that same passion for performance to yet another iconic property and believe that we have developed an experience second to none that appropriately befits all that One World Trade Center stands for.”

“As a building unlike any other in the world, One World Trade Center rightfully deserves an observatory experience unlike any other in the world,” said Hal Steinbrenner, New York Yankees Managing General Partner. “The Yankees organization is proud to be a part of One World Observatory, a project that will combine the best that New York has to offer, from awe-inspiring city views to top-notch service, and elevate the visitor experience to new heights.”

“One World Trade Center is arguably one of the most significant buildings in the world,” said Jerry Jones, Jr. Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Dallas Cowboys. “We are humbled to have been chosen to operate the Observatory Deck and are committed to provide all who visit with a memorable experience that honors what the building represents not just locally, but nationally as well.”

Those interested in learning more about One World Observatory can visit WTC Progress to view a short video and renderings depicting the One World Observatory experience.

One World Trade Center is a joint venture between The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and The Durst Organization. The Legends’ One World Observatory team includes The Hettema Group, Montroy Andersen DeMarco and JRM Construction.

Securing Cyberspace While Protecting Privacy and Civil Liberties

U.S. Department of Homeland Security /

DHS is mindful that one of its missions is to ensure that privacy, confidentiality, civil rights and civil liberties are not diminished by the Department’s security initiatives.  Accordingly, the Department has implemented strong privacy and civil rights and civil liberties standards into all its cybersecurity programs and initiatives from the outset. In order to protect privacy while safeguarding and securing cyberspace, DHS institutes layered privacy responsibilities throughout the Department, embeds fair practice principles into cybersecurity programs and privacy compliance efforts, and fosters collaboration with cybersecurity partners.

On February 12, 2013, President Obama signed an Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.  The Executive Order clears the way for more efficient sharing of cyber threat information between government and the private sector, while directing federal departments and agencies to incorporate robust privacy and civil liberty protections into all of their cybersecurity activities.    The Executive Order’s privacy protections are based upon the widely-accepted Fair Information Practice Principles, and other applicable privacy and civil liberties frameworks and polices. The Administration has a strong commitment to privacy in cyberspace, including last year unveiling a “Privacy Bill of Rights” based on the Fair Information Practice Principles to protect consumers online.

There are eight Fair Information Practice Principles that serve as the framework for integrating privacy protections into everything we do:

  • Transparency
  • Individual Participation
  • Purpose Specification
  • Data Minimization
  • Use Limitation
  • Data Quality and Integrity
  • Security
  • Accountability and Auditing

Using these principles, DHS ensures privacy is an integral part of its operations, starting from a program’s early development and continuing through its implementation.

DHS is committed to protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. Successfully implementing the Executive Order and protecting the nation’s cyber and physical infrastructure will require the Department to be transparent.  As part of this commitment to transparency, DHS posts its privacy impact assessments and privacy compliance reviews online.  The Executive Order also requires regular assessments, and public reporting, of privacy and civil liberties impacts across the federal government.

The President’s actions mark an important milestone in the Department’s ongoing efforts to coordinate the national response to significant cyber incidents while enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our work to strengthen the security and resilience of critical infrastructure.  In developing the Executive Order, the Administration sought input from stakeholders of all viewpoints in industry, government, and the advocacy community.  Their input has been vital in crafting an order that incorporates the best ideas and lessons learned from public and private sector efforts while ensuring that our information sharing incorporates rigorous protections for individual privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties.  Indeed, as we perform all of our cyber-related work, we look forward to engaging all of our stakeholders to achieve cybersecurity together.

U.S. Border Patrol Agents Confiscate Weapons, Meth

U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

San Diego — U.S. Border Patrol agents at the I-8 checkpoint and agents patrolling I-5 apprehended four individuals involved in drug smuggling and weapons possession during the last six days.

On March 31, agents at the I-8 checkpoint near Pine Valley referred a 27-year-old male U.S. citizen for a secondary inspection. A K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the driver’s 2001 Chrysler sedan and alerted to a seam in the rear passenger seat. A subsequent search of the seat revealed an access panel to the fuel tank, which contained 19 packages of methamphetamine. The narcotics weighed 18.55 pounds and had an estimated street value of $371,000. The subject and narcotics were turned over to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. The vehicle was seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

In two other incidents, agents confiscated weapons and ammunition. On March 29, agents encountered a female U.S. citizen driver and her female passenger at the I-8 checkpoint. A K-9 alerted to the Chevrolet Sonic and a subsequent search revealed a firearm in the glove box loaded with six rounds of ammunition. The driver was arrested and is facing federal charges. A second incident, involving weapons, occurred on March 26 when agents questioned a 27-year-old female U.S. citizen in a 2005 Ford Focus near the I-5 checkpoint. A search of the vehicle revealed a 9-mm caliber pistol inside a makeup box and a box of rounds. A records check indicated the firearm had been stolen. The woman was arrested and turned over to SDSO.

To prevent the illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on corridors of egress away from our Nation’s borders. To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.

Detector Dogs Sniff Out Smuggled Wildlife

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service /

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a message for would-be wildlife traffickers: there’s a new dog in town, and if you try to bring illegal wildlife parts into the country, there’s a good chance he’s going to sniff you out.  And there are more just like him. 

That’s because today, the first class of “wildlife detector dogs” and their handlers graduated from training in searching for protected species. In coming weeks, they will be stationed at key ports of entry around the country, searching for wildlife smuggled across U.S. borders. The four retrievers – named Viper, Butter, Lancer and Locket ­– have been trained as part of a national effort to stem the growing trade in threatened animal parts such as elephant ivory and rhino horn.

“The recent rapid growth in the global trade in protected wildlife is pushing some species perilously close to extinction. Elephant and rhino populations in particular are declining at alarming rates,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Deputy Chief Ed Grace. “The battle to stop wildlife smuggling is one we simply cannot afford to lose, and using dogs and their phenomenal sense of smell to catch smugglers will give us a real leg up in this effort.”

The use of dogs in law enforcement isn’t new.  Dogs are already used to detect illegal fruits and food products, bombs and drugs.  Some have even been trained to track down pythons that are invading Florida’s Everglades.  Training dogs to find smuggled wildlife products was the next step.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforces the nation’s wildlife laws, such as the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act, and is responsible for U.S. enforcement of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  This agreement between 178 countries restricts cross-border trade in protected wild animals and plants, from elephants and rhinos to Brazilian rosewood and wild orchids.

Service inspectors are on the front lines of enforcement of these laws, inspecting declared wildlife shipments and working to intercept smuggled wildlife and wildlife products.  Inspectors examine imports and exports at U.S. international airports, ocean ports, border crossings, international mail facilities, and FedEx and UPS processing centers. Using dogs will give inspectors a whole new capacity to quickly scan air, rail, and ocean cargo, as well as international mail and express delivery packages, declared or not, without the time-consuming need to open each crate, box, or parcel.

The four graduating dogs and their Service Wildlife Inspector-Handlers completed the 13-week training course at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan, Georgia, half an hour southwest of Atlanta. The center normally trains detector dogs to sniff out fruits and plants to interdict potential insects or diseases that could hurt U.S. agriculture. 

For the Wildlife Inspector-Handlers, this is a new and exciting venture.

“This gives me a chance to combine my two great loves, wildlife and dogs,” said Amir Lawal, Wildlife Inspector at the port of Miami.  “I can’t wait to get started in the field with my new partner to stop illegal wildlife shipments.”

So smugglers beware! From now on, bringing illegal wildlife through U.S. ports is barking up the wrong tree.

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