[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
BORDER SECURITY THREATS TO THE HOMELAND: DHS' RESPONSE TO INNOVATIVE
TACTICS AND TECHNIQUES
SUBCOMMITTEE ON BORDER AND
COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
JUNE 19, 2012
Serial No. 112-98
Printed for the use of the Committee on Homeland Security
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COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
Peter T. King, New York, Chairman
Lamar Smith, Texas Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi
Daniel E. Lungren, California Loretta Sanchez, California
Mike Rogers, Alabama Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas
Michael T. McCaul, Texas Henry Cuellar, Texas
Gus M. Bilirakis, Florida Yvette D. Clarke, New York
Paul C. Broun, Georgia Laura Richardson, California
Candice S. Miller, Michigan Danny K. Davis, Illinois
Tim Walberg, Michigan Brian Higgins, New York
Chip Cravaack, Minnesota Cedric L. Richmond, Louisiana
Joe Walsh, Illinois Hansen Clarke, Michigan
Patrick Meehan, Pennsylvania William R. Keating, Massachusetts
Ben Quayle, Arizona Kathleen C. Hochul, New York
Scott Rigell, Virginia Janice Hahn, California
Billy Long, Missouri Vacancy
Jeff Duncan, South Carolina
Tom Marino, Pennsylvania
Blake Farenthold, Texas
Robert L. Turner, New York
Michael J. Russell, Staff Director/Chief Counsel
Kerry Ann Watkins, Senior Policy Director
Michael S. Twinchek, Chief Clerk
I. Lanier Avant, Minority Staff Director
SUBCOMMITTEE ON BORDER AND MARITIME SECURITY
Candice S. Miller, Michigan, Chairwoman
Mike Rogers, Alabama Henry Cuellar, Texas
Michael T. McCaul, Texas Loretta Sanchez, California
Paul C. Broun, Georgia Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas
Ben Quayle, Arizona, Vice Chair Brian Higgins, New York
Scott Rigell, Virginia Hansen Clarke, Michigan
Jeff Duncan, South Carolina Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi
Peter T. King, New York (Ex (Ex Officio)
Paul Anstine, Staff Director
Diana Bergwin, Subcommittee Clerk
Alison Northrop, Minority Subcommittee Director
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Candice S. Miller, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Michigan, and Chairwoman, Subcommittee on
Border and Maritime Security:
Oral Statement................................................. 1
Prepared Statement............................................. 3
The Honorable Henry Cuellar, a Representative in Congress From
the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Border
and Maritime Security:
Oral Statement................................................. 5
Prepared Statement............................................. 6
The Honorable Bennie G. Thompson, a Representative in Congress
From the State of Mississippi, and Ranking Member, Committee on
Prepared Statement............................................. 6
Ms. Donna A. Bucella, Assistant Commissioner, Office of
Intelligence and Investigative Liaison, U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, Department of Homeland Security:
Oral Statement................................................. 8
Prepared Statement............................................. 9
Mr. James A. Dinkins, Executive Associate Director, Homeland
Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security:
Oral Statement................................................. 15
Prepared Statement............................................. 16
Mr. William D. Lee, Deputy for Operations Policy & Capabilities,
U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security:
Oral Statement................................................. 23
Prepared Statement............................................. 25
Mr. Charles D. Michel, Director, Joint Interagency Task Force-
Oral Statement................................................. 27
Prepared Statement............................................. 29
BORDER SECURITY THREATS TO THE HOMELAND: DHS' RESPONSE TO INNOVATIVE
TACTICS AND TECHNIQUES
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
U.S. House of Representatives,
Committee on Homeland Security,
Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:00 a.m., in
Room 311, Cannon House Office Building, Hon. Candice S. Miller
[Chairwoman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Miller, Rogers, McCaul, Duncan,
Cuellar, Jackson Lee, and Clarke.
Mrs. Miller. The Committee on Homeland Security,
Subcommittee on Border on Maritime Security will come to order.
The subcommittee is meeting today to examine the Department of
Homeland Security's response to border security threats.
Our witnesses today are Donna Bucella, assistant
commissioner of CBP's Office of Intelligence and Investigation
Liaison; James Dinkins, the executive associate director of
Homeland Security Investigations at U.S. Immigrations and
Customs Enforcement; Rear Admiral William Lee, deputy for
operations policy and capabilities, from the United States
Coast Guard; and Rear Admiral Charles Michel, director of the
Joint Interagency Task Force-South.
When it comes to securing our border the old military adage
that no plan survives contact with the enemy is, or should be,
at the forefront of our minds. As the Department of Homeland
Security has increased its presence along the Southwest Border,
drug cartels, human smugglers, and illegal aliens have adapted
and improvised to defeat our security measures.
In the mid-1990s, ground zero for illegal migration
centered in California and Texas, until the Border Patrol
devised new campaigns, like Operation Gatekeeper and Operation
Hold the Line. During those operations the Border Patrol surged
capability to meet a specific threat, but early on observers
realized that this would create a balloon effect, where a surge
in one area would just displace the flow of drugs and migrants
to other more rural areas of the country.
Human beings naturally seek the path of least resistance,
so when word got out about the increased enforcement posture in
California and Texas smuggling routes shifted to the western
desert of Arizona, and today the Tucson sector sees the
majority of crossings and nets large seizures of drugs. This
was true even before the recent economic downturn reduced the
total number of crossings Nation-wide.
Congress has poured resources into Arizona, spent billions
on technology, beefed up the number of agents to historic
levels, and heavily invested in infrastructure. Most of those
investments enhance our capabilities to detect, to deter, and
to interdict drugs and people who try to cross the border, as
well as funnel people into areas that give the Border Patrol a
greater chance to catch those who would otherwise succeed.
But will the increased investment in Arizona mean that
other areas of the Southwest Border will become more heavily
trafficked by drug cartels and illegal immigrants, and more
importantly, are CBP and DHS prepared to adjust as the threats
change and as new tactics are used?
People who want to cross the border aren't static. They
watch our agents; they perform counter-surveillance; and they
try to find gaps in our patrols and develop new, innovative
ways to bring people, illicit proceeds, or their product across
Over the last few years we have seen a proliferation of
complex border tunnels used in urban areas, ultralight
aircraft, and small fishing vessels, called panga boats, which
are being discovered farther up the California coast and which
attempt to blend in with normal traffic.
What is very concerning to this committee is the threat
posed by semi-submersible submarines that can carry tons of
cocaine, as well as recent discoveries of fully-submersibles,
which can be used to carry drugs or something even worse to our
shores. That is why this committee has continued to call for a
comprehensive plan to secure the border. Ad hoc developments
of--or deployments of resources to plug a hole or address a gap
that exists today without thinking about the drug cartels' next
move has to be replaced with a more comprehensive analysis that
anticipates weaknesses that our adversary may try to exploit as
a result of our response.
The cartels have billions of dollars at their disposal and
a powerful incentive--to make as much money as they can--to
succeed in bringing drugs or human beings into our country. If
a cartel can smuggle drugs and people into our country we have
to recognize that as an avenue the terrorist could exploit as
well. CBP, ICE, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and our partners over
at the Department of Defense have to be just as nimble and
agile, otherwise the cartels will out-innovate and out-think us
As I have called for--as this committee has called for a
much more comprehensive approach from the Department we are
very interested to see how well the Customs and Border
Protection Joint Field Command, which integrates several of the
DHS components to tackle the challenge in Arizona, is part of
the solution to address the complex nature of the border
threat, and if the Joint Field Command concept could work
elsewhere as the situation requires.
One of the more encouraging elements of the recently
released border patrol strategy was an emphasis on the use of
intelligence as well as a more risk-based approach. Using intel
to detect patterns of illegal migration to better direct our
agents in the field makes very, very good sense. A risk-based
approach which utilizes intelligence also relies heavily on
technology. While we certainly understand technology is not a
panacea for solving all the problems along the border I do--and
I think the committee feels, as well--that it can certainly
help the Department better direct its limited resources.
We are very encouraged by the use of new technology, such
as the Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar, commonly called
VADER, with a wide-area surveillance tool installed on CBP's
UAVs that can detect the movement of both people and vehicles
in the desert. This tool is extremely valuable as CBP seeks to
identify and detect changing smuggling patterns.
We hope that we can continue to identify and use emerging
technology to expand our ability to monitor and to gain control
of the border. The primary purpose of this hearing today, this
morning, is not only to examine the many threats to our border
security but to DHS's ability to confront them, and of course,
we don't want to be reactive but we want to be proactive when
we take steps to better secure our border.
One of the more serious threats to border security is the
idea that we are less than fully committed to enforcing our
Nation's immigration laws. As reported in the Washington Times,
there is quite a bit of concern that CBP is considering a new
policy to give enforcement discretion to Border Patrol agents
and CBP officers in the field.
Moving forward, we are certainly going to be closely
monitoring policy developments and we will ask that the
Department fully explain any change in their border enforcement
Again, we want to thank the very distinguished panel that
we have today of our witnesses. We look forward to their
[The statement of Mrs. Miller follows:]
Statement of Chairwoman Candice S. Miller
June 19, 2012
When it comes to securing our border, the old military adage that
no plan survives contact with the enemy is, or should be, at the
forefront of our minds.
As DHS has increased its presence on the Southwest Border, drug
cartels, human smugglers, and illegal aliens have adapted and
improvised to defeat our security measures.
In the mid-1990s, ground zero for illegal migration centered in
California and Texas until the Border Patrol devised new campaigns--
Operation Gatekeeper and Operation Hold the Line.
During those operations, the Border Patrol surged capability to
meet a specific threat, but early on, observers realized this would
create a balloon effect, where a surge in one area would just displace
the flow of drugs and migrants to other, more rural areas of the
Human beings naturally seek the path of least resistance, so when
word got out about the increased enforcement posture in California and
Texas, smuggling routes shifted to the western desert of Arizona--not
exactly the most hospitable place to cross the border.
Today, the Tucson sector sees the majority of crossings and nets
large seizures of drugs. This was true even before the recent economic
downturn reduced the total number of crossings Nation-wide.
Congress has poured resources into Arizona--spent billions on
technology, beefed up the number of agents to historic levels, and
heavily invested in infrastructure.
Most of those investments enhanced our capabilities to detect,
deter, and interdict drugs and people who try to cross the border, as
well as funnel people into areas that give the Border Patrol a greater
chance to catch those who would otherwise succeed.
But will the increased investment in Arizona mean that other areas
of the Southwest Border will become more heavily trafficked by drug
cartels and illegal immigrants?
More importantly are CBP and DHS prepared to adjust as the threats
change and as new tactics are used?
People who want to cross the border aren't static; they watch our
agents, perform counter surveillance, and try to find gaps in our
patrols, and develop new inventive ways to bring people, illicit
proceeds, or their ``product'' across the border.
Over the last few years we've seen a proliferation of complex
border tunnels used in urban areas, ultra light aircraft, and small
fishing vessels called panga boats which are being discovered farther
up the California coast and attempt to blend in with normal traffic.
What is most concerning to me is the threat posed by semi-
submersible submarines that can carry tons of cocaine, as well as
recent discoveries of fully submersibles which can be used to carry
drugs, or something even worse to our shores.
That is why I have been, and continue to call for a comprehensive
plan to secure the border.
Ad hoc deployments of resources to plug a hole, or address a gap
that exists today without thinking about the drug cartel's next move
has to be replaced with a more comprehensive analysis that anticipates
weaknesses that our adversary may try to exploit as a result of our
The cartels have billions of dollars at their disposal and a
powerful incentive--to make as much money as they can--to succeed in
bringing drugs or human beings into the country.
If a cartel can smuggle drugs and people into the country, we have
to recognize that as an avenue that terrorists could exploit as well.
CBP, ICE, the U.S. Coast Guard and our partners over at the
Department of Defense have to be just as nimble and agile, otherwise
the cartels will out-innovate and out-think us every time.
As I have called for such a more comprehensive approach from the
Department, I am very interested to see how well the Customs and Border
Protection Joint Field Command which integrates several of the DHS
components to tackle the challenge in Arizona is part of the solution
to address the complex nature of the border threat and if the Joint
Field Command concept could work elsewhere as the situation requires.
One of the more encouraging elements of the recently-released
Border Patrol strategy was an emphasis on the use of intelligence as
well as a more risk-based approach. Using intelligence to detect
patterns of illegal migration to better direct our agents in the field
A risk-based approach which utilizes intelligence also relies
heavily on technology. While I understand technology is not a panacea
to solving all problems along the border, I do think it can help DHS
better direct its limited resources.
I am encouraged by the use of new technology, such as Vehicle and
Dismount Exploitation Radar, commonly called VADER, a wide-area
surveillance tool installed on CBP UAVs that can detect the movement of
both people and vehicles in the desert.
I understand this tool is extremely valuable as CBP seeks to
identify and detect changing smuggling patterns. My hope is that we can
continue to identify and use emerging technology to expand our ability
to monitor and gain control of the border.
The primary purpose of this hearing today is not only to examine
the many threats to our border security, but DHS' ability to confront
them, and instead of being reactive, be proactively taking steps to
better secure the border.
One of the more serious threats to border security is the idea that
we are less than fully committed to enforcing our Nation's immigration
As reported in the Washington Times, I am concerned CBP is
considering a new policy to give enforcement discretion to Border
Patrol agents and CBP officers in the field.
Such discretion would make a mockery of our recent efforts to
secure the border, and attach consequences to repeat crossers and
Moving forward I will be closely monitoring policy developments,
and will ask that the Department fully explain any change in our border
Again, I want to thank the distinguished panel of witnesses and I
look forward to their testimony.
Mrs. Miller. At this time the Chairwoman now recognizes the
Ranking Member from Texas, Mr. Cuellar, for his opening
Mr. Cuellar. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Thank you, again,
for holding today's hearing.
I would like to thank all of our witnesses for being here
today, and thank you for your presence here and also for your
The purpose of this hearing is to examine how the
Department of Homeland Security is working to combat the ever-
changing security threats along our border. Being a resident of
the border down there in South Texas and a member of this
committee I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the good
work that DHS, Coast Guard, the other folks here have been
doing down there on the border. In recent years DHS has made
enormous investment in the border security personnel,
technology, and infrastructure, and there is evidence that it
is--their work is paying off, but we do know that we can do
better and we need to continue working down there on the
border--again, not only the southern, northern, but the
maritime border also.
However, these efforts are being met by efforts of drug-
trafficking organizations which seemingly possess unlimited
resources and funds. As law enforcement has better secured drug
smugglers' usual routes along our border the drug-trafficking
organizations began to use alternative means to move
contraband--not only the contraband drugs but also human
These alternative methods include construction of border--
cross-border tunnels, and the subterranean passageways, and
increased use of ultralight aircrafts to get the contraband
into this country undetected. Similarly, the maritime
environment has seen the increase in the use of panga boats,
self-propelled semi-, fully-submersible vessels for drug
I would like to hear from our witnesses today about their
experiences with these illegal tactics and what we can do to
further enhance their work for combating drug trafficking.
Newest efforts along the Southern Border have continued and
will continue to receive a great deal of attention but we
cannot forget the threats to our border also on the northern
and, of course, the maritime also.
As Members of the Homeland Security Committee we know
securing America's border and communities from drug trafficking
efforts is an enormous task. I look forward to hearing more
about how we can promote the cooperation, coordination in the
interest of safety in order to secure our Nation.
One of the things I will--I would like to emphasize, also,
is the results-oriented approach. I know we have invested
billions of dollars on border security, if you look at the
amount of dollars that we have invested, and one of the things
that we will be asking a lot more in the future is, ``What is
the bang for the dollars? What are the performance measures?
How do you measure what we are doing?'' Because again, you can
throw money, and throw money, and billions of dollars that we
have put there, but we want to see what the results are that we
are getting for that.
So to all of you all, thank you very much. Look forward to
working with y'all, and thank you for this dialogue.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.
[The statement of Ranking Member Cuellar follows:]
Statement of Ranking Member Henry Cuellar
June 19, 2012
The purpose of this hearing is to examine how the Department of
Homeland Security is working to combat the ever-changing security
threats along our borders.
As a life-long resident of Laredo, Texas, and a Member of this
committee, I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the good work
that DHS is doing along our borders.
In recent years, DHS has made an enormous investment in border
security personnel, technology, and infrastructure, and there is
evidence their work is paying off.
However, these efforts are being met by the efforts of drug
trafficking organizations, which seemingly possess unlimited resources
As law enforcement has better secured drug smugglers' usual routes
across our borders, the drug trafficking organizations have begun to
use alternative means to move contraband.
These alternative methods include the construction of cross-border
tunnels and subterranean passageways, and increased use of ultralight
aircrafts to get their contraband into this country undetected.
Similarly, the maritime environment has seen an increase in the use
of panga boats, self-propelled semi- and fully-submersible vessels for
I would like to hear from our witnesses today about their
experiences with these illegal tactics, and what we could do to further
enhance their work combating drug trafficking.
U.S. efforts along the Southern Border have and continue to receive
a great deal of attention, but we cannot forget that there are threats
to all of our borders--Northern, Southern, and maritime.
As Members of the Committee on Homeland Security, we know securing
America's borders and communities from drug trafficking, and its
effects, is an enormous task.
I look forward to hearing more about how we can promote that
cooperation and coordination in the interest of the safety and security
of our Nation.
I appreciate the opportunity to participate in today's hearing and
look forward to what I hope will be a very worthwhile dialogue.
Mrs. Miller. Thank the gentleman very much. Other Members
are reminded that their testimony may be submitted for the
[The statement of Ranking Member Thompson follows:]
Prepared Statement of Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson
Today, the subcommittee is examining the Department of Homeland
Security's response to tactics used by smugglers and traffickers who
seek to cross our Nation's borders.
The Department of Homeland Security has made unprecedented efforts
to better secure our borders in recent years, with the support of
In response, cartels and other criminal organizations are
exploiting different methods to bring their contraband into this
For example, these organizations may seek to use semi- or fully-
submersible vessels to move their narcotics from the source zones in
Latin America closer to their destination in the United States.
They may build or exploit existing border tunnels to evade the
Border Patrol and secret their drugs into the country.
Or they may seek to bring drugs into the United States via boat
from Mexico, landing on the coast of California rather than risking
detection attempting to come across the land border.
It is important to understand the various methods being used by
these smuggling and trafficking organizations, to try to stay a step
ahead of them.
At the same time, it is worth stating that many of these so-called
``innovative'' tactics and techniques are neither new nor unknown to
DHS and other law enforcement.
Furthermore, these tactics represent only a small part of the
smuggling and trafficking threat to the United States.
The overwhelming majority of illegal narcotics still enter the
United States either hidden in vehicles or on individuals coming
through our ports of entry, or are smuggled through traditional means
between the ports of entry.
DHS needs to combat these unusual tactics, but must also keep them
in perspective if we are to be successful in addressing the broader
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about how their
agencies are working to address border security threats, with an
emphasis on the communication and coordination among agencies.
I am particularly pleased to have Admiral Michel of Joint
Interagency Task Force-South with us today.
I have had the opportunity to be briefed at JIATF-South and see the
work the men and women of that interagency organization are doing in
conjunction with their counterparts at DHS and across the Federal
I look forward to an update on their efforts and a frank discussion
about the challenges they face.
Finally, I would note that I was disappointed that Gen. Michael
Kostelnik, the Assistant Commissioner for CBP Air and Marine, is not
appearing at today's hearing as originally planned.
One of the key ways DHS has attempted to respond to border security
threats over the last decade is through the acquisition and deployment
of costly Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs).
I had hoped to discuss with Gen. Kostelnik some rather troubling
conclusions reached by the DHS Inspector General in a recent report on
CBP's use of UASs and their usefulness along our borders.
It is my understanding that he will instead appear before another
of the committee's subcommittees later this week, at which time I hope
to address this important issue with him.
Mrs. Miller. I will just introduce all the witnesses and
then we will start with Ms. Bucella.
Donna Bucella is the assistant commissioner of CBP's Office
of Intelligence and Investigative Liaison. She has an extensive
background in law enforcement, terrorist screening, and
security, including having served as the first director of the
Terrorist Screening Center at the FBI.
Ms. Bucella directed the first consolidation of all
terrorist watch lists and developed the coordination of
antiterrorism efforts between law enforcement, the military,
DHS, the private sector, and the intelligence community. She
has also served in the United States Army and retired at the
rank of colonel.
James Dinkins is the executive associate director of
Homeland Security Investigations at the U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement. In this role he has direct oversight of
ICE's investigative and enforcement initiatives and operations
targeting cross-border criminal organizations that exploit
Americans--America's legitimate travel, trade, financial, and
immigration systems for their illicit purposes.
Rear Admiral William Lee is the deputy for operations
policy and capabilities for the United States Coast Guard. In
this role he oversees integration of all operations,
capability, strategy, and resource policy. He spent 13 years in
six different command assignments and spent a career
specializing in boat operations and search and rescue.
Rear Admiral Charles Michel is the director of the Joint
Interagency Task Force-South. In that role he is responsible
for detection, monitoring, and interdiction of illicit
trafficking and other narcoterrorist threats within the task
force area of responsibility. Previously he served as the
military advisor to the secretary of Homeland Security and
director for governmental and public affairs for the United
States Coast Guard.
So we have a fantastic lineup of witnesses today and we
certainly are looking forward to all of your testimony.
The Chairwoman now recognizes Ms. Bucella for her opening
STATEMENT OF DONNA A. BUCELLA, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, OFFICE
OF INTELLIGENCE AND INVESTIGATIVE LIAISON, U.S. CUSTOMS AND
BORDER PROTECTION, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Ms. Bucella. Thank you.
Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Cuellar, it is a pleasure
to appear before you today to discuss United States Customs and
Border Protection's efforts to secure our Nation's border. As
America's front-line border agency CBP is responsible for
securing America's borders against threats while facilitating
legitimate trade and travel. To do this we have employed a
multi-layered, risk-based approach which reduces our reliance
on any single point or program that could be compromised. It
also extends our zone of security outward, ensuring that our
physical border is not the first or the last defense, but one
The result of this prioritization to the border and our
layered approach to security are clear. In fiscal year 2011
Border Patrol apprehensions along the Southwest Border
decreased 53 percent since fiscal year 2008. We matched these
decreases in apprehensions with increases in seizures of cash,
drug, and weapons. In fiscal year 2011 CBP seized more than
$126 million in illegal currency and nearly 5 million pounds of
At the same time, according to the 2010 FBI crime reports,
violent crime in the Southwest Border States dropped by an
average of 40 percent in the last 2 decades. Every measure we
are making significant progress.
However, we must remain vigilant and focus on building upon
an approach that puts CBP's greatest capabilities in place to
combat the greatest risks. We acknowledge there is still much
more work to do. We remain concerned about the drug cartel
violence taking place in Mexico and continue to stand vigilant
against the possibility of spillover effects in the United
To meet these challenges of the complex environments in
which we operate and address the evolving smuggling techniques
we encounter CBP monitors, collects, analyzes, and produces
intelligence reporting on drug smuggling tactics, techniques,
and procedures. In addition, we disseminate information to and
from our law enforcement and international partners to CBP
Due to increased CBP land and air interdiction efforts
against--along the U.S.-Mexico border, drug and human smuggling
organizations are increasingly turning to maritime smuggling
routes to transport contraband into the United States. Mexican
smuggling organizations use a variety of methods to enter the
United States via maritime routes, including the use of small,
open vessels known as pangas. These wood or fiberglass homemade
fishing vessels use their relatively high-speed and small radar
signature capabilities under the cover of darkness in an
attempt to evade detection by CBP and the United States Coast
A recent trend identified off the California coast is a
shift from using smaller pangas to using larger pangas that
transit further out to sea and land and further up the
California coast. To date, in fiscal year 2012 over 27,000
kilos of marijuana have been seized in 37 maritime events.
In addition to using pangas, the TCOs have also built and
deployed self-propelled semi-submersible vessels in the Eastern
Pacific and Western Caribbean. These vessels are designed to
sit low in the water in an attempt to avoid detection by air
and marine assets of the United States and our partner nations.
In three separate incidents in 1-week period CBP's P-3 aircraft
assisted in the interdiction of an SPSS and two vessels
carrying at least 8,000 kilos of cocaine, for a combined street
value of $1.3 billion.
In addition, TCOs have also turned to using ultralights to
fly across the Southwest Border and air-drop marijuana cargo to
waiting ground crews. This fiscal year there have been 55
confirmed ultralight events, resulting in 17 narcotic seizures,
11 arrests, and two ultralights aircraft seized. Currently,
CBP's Air and Marine Operation Center uses an extensive
airspace monitoring capabilities as well as DOD and civilian
radar capabilities to identify and track suspect ultralight
Tunnels are yet another method used smuggling drugs across
the border. To date, there have been approximately 154 illicit
cross-border tunnels discovered.
When tunnels are detected each of the Southwest Border
sectors follow established protocols, working closely with ICE,
DEA, and FBI and the Tunnel Task Force. CBP hosts a weekly
teleconference with our State and local partners regarding the
current state of the Southern Border in order to monitor
emerging trends and threats along the Southwest Border and
provide a cross-component, multi-agency venue for discussing
trends and threats. The weekly briefing focuses on CBP
narcotics, weapons seizures, currency interdictions, and alien
apprehensions, both at and between the ports of entry on the
Based on the success of the State of the Southern Border,
CBP has implemented a State of the U.S.-Canadian Border
teleconference. This monthly teleconference is produced
collaboratively with RCMP and CBSA as well as with our law
enforcement partners on both sides of the Canadian border. This
has been well received.
Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Cuellar, Members of the
subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to testify about
the good work of CBP, and I look forward to answering any of
[The statement of Ms. Bucella follows:]
Prepared Statement of Donna A. Bucella
June 19, 2012
Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Cuellar, and distinguished Members
of the subcommittee, it is a pleasure to appear before you today to
discuss U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) efforts to secure
our Nation's borders.
As America's front-line border agency, CBP is responsible for
securing America's borders against threats while facilitating legal
travel and trade. To do this, CBP has deployed a multi-layered, risk-
based approach to enhance the security of our borders while
facilitating the lawful flow of people and goods entering the United
States. This layered approach to security reduces our reliance on any
single point or program that could be compromised. It also extends our
zone of security outward, ensuring that our physical border is not the
first or last line of defense, but one of many.
I would like to begin by recognizing those at the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) who have given their lives in service to our
Nation. The loss of these brave agents and officers is a stark reminder
of the sacrifices made by the men and women of DHS every day. It also
strengthens our resolve to continue to do everything in our power to
protect against, mitigate, and respond to threats and secure our
overview of border security efforts
Over the past 3 years, the DHS has dedicated historic levels of
personnel, technology, and resources in support of our border security
efforts. Most recently, the President's fiscal year 2013 budget request
continues these efforts by supporting the largest deployment of law
enforcement officers to the front line in our agency's history: More
than 21,300 Border Patrol agents; 1,200 Air and Marine agents; and
21,100 CBP officers; working 24/7 with State, local, Tribal, and
Federal law enforcement to target illicit networks trafficking in
people, drugs, weapons, and money. Over the last year, we have brought
greater unity to our enforcement efforts, expanded collaboration with
other agencies, and improved response times.
CBP has also deployed additional technology assets--including
mobile surveillance units, thermal imaging systems, and large- and
small-scale non-intrusive inspection equipment--along our Nation's
borders. CBP currently has over 270 aircraft, including nine Unmanned
Aircraft Systems (UAS) and more than 300 patrol and interdiction boats
that provide critical aerial and maritime surveillance and operational
assistance to personnel on the ground. The UAS program is rapidly
changing how ground assets are deployed, supplying Border Patrol Agents
with unparalleled situational awareness through the UAS's broad area
electronic surveillance capabilities. Going forward, CBP will continue
to integrate the use of these specialized capabilities into the daily
operations of CBP's front-line personnel to enhance our border security
The results of this prioritization to the border and our layered
approach to security are clear. In fiscal year 2011, Border Patrol
apprehensions along the Southwest Border--a key indicator of illegal
immigration--decreased 53 percent since fiscal year 2008, and are less
than one-fifth of what they were at their peak in 2000. We have matched
these decreases in apprehensions with increases in seizures of cash,
drugs, and weapons. During fiscal years 2009 through 2011, DHS seized
74 percent more currency, 41 percent more drugs, and 159 percent more
weapons along the Southwest Border as compared to fiscal year 2006-
2008. In fiscal year 2011, CBP seized more than $126 million in illegal
currency and nearly 5 million pounds of narcotics Nation-wide. At the
same time, according to 2010 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
crime reports, violent crimes in Southwest Border States have dropped
by an average of 40 percent in the last 2 decades.
Every key measure shows we are making significant progress;
however, we must remain vigilant and focus on building upon an approach
that puts CBP's greatest capabilities in place to combat the greatest
We acknowledge that there is still work to do. We remain concerned
about the drug cartel violence taking place in Mexico and continue to
stand vigilant against the possibility of spillover effects in the
United States. We will continue to assess the situation and support the
investments in the manpower, technology, and resources that have proven
so effective over the past 2 years in order to keep our borders secure
and the communities along them safe.
We are also concerned about the increasing influence of Mexican
Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) over U.S.-based gangs as a way to
expand their domestic distribution process. Gang members are heavily
involved in the domestic distribution of narcotics and, to a much
lesser extent, the actual movement of contraband across the Southwest
Border. The Mexican Mafia and Barrio Aztecas are two examples of U.S.-
based gangs with significant ties to Mexican DTOs that operate on both
sides of the border. In an effort to combat the threat of transnational
criminal gangs, CBP developed the Anti-Gang Initiative (AGI). The AGI
is a multi-year strategic plan to combat transnational criminal gangs.
It focuses on the effective management and coordination of CBP
personnel, systems, and resources to detect, disrupt, and interdict
criminal gang members and their illicit cross-border activities.
The CBP Office of Intelligence and Investigative Liaison (OIIL)
supports AGI efforts by facilitating the sharing of intelligence
generated by multiple Federal, State, and local agencies. OIIL assets
are embedded within both the Operations Section--Gangs located within
the Special Operations Division at the Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA), and the FBI's Criminal Investigation Division. As a contributing
member to both these operations, CBP has access to operational
intelligence that is generated not only by the DEA, but also by our
other law enforcement partners, including the FBI, U.S. Marshals
Service, Bureau of Prisons, and U.S. Immigration and Customs
overview of smuggling methods
CBP's mission is complex and challenging. Vast expanses of remote
and rugged terrain between our ports of entry (POEs), coupled with the
large volumes of trade and traffic at our POEs, are targeted for
exploitation by smugglers and other cross-border criminal
organizations. Smugglers use a wide range of ever-evolving methods to
attempt to move their illicit goods into the United States both at and
between our POEs, including the subterranean movement of contraband by
way of tunnels. Smugglers move people, weapons, cash, narcotics and
other contraband, which are concealed on people, in vehicles, in cargo,
and on aircraft and marine vessels. On a typical day, CBP seizes more
than 6,200 kilograms (13,700 pounds) of drugs and nearly $350,000 in
undeclared or illicit currency. The Southwest Border is the primary
entry point for cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine
entering the United States.
To meet the challenges of the complex environments in which we
operate and address the evolving smuggling techniques we encounter, CBP
monitors, collects, analyzes, and produces intelligence reporting on
drug smuggling tactics, techniques, and procedures. In addition, our
analysts disseminate information and intelligence to and from our
Federal, State, local, Tribal, and international partners to CBP
operational components. This reporting provides our field leadership
and front-line personnel with a better understanding of the illicit
transportation methods and concealment techniques they are likely to
encounter. It also ensures our law enforcement partners are aware of
the trends and techniques encountered by CBP.
To detect this contraband in vehicles and other conveyances, CBP
employs a wide range of interdiction methods to include behavioral
observation, fiber-optic scopes, and non-intrusive inspection (NII)
technologies, as well as the intuition of our well-trained officers and
agents. NII technologies, to include large-scale X-ray and Gamma-ray
imaging systems, are an important part of our layered enforcement
strategy. These technologies are deployed at our Nation's air, sea, and
land border POEs to screen and identify anomalies that may indicate the
presence of contraband or other illegal materials. These NII
technologies are force multipliers that enable us to scan or examine a
larger portion of the people, conveyances, and cargo entering and
exiting the United States for the presence of contraband, while
continuing to facilitate the flow of legitimate trade and travel.
NII technologies also give CBP the capability to perform thorough
examinations of conveyances and cargo without having to resort to the
more costly, time-consuming, and intrusive process of manual searches.
NII technologies are also the only effective means of screening the
large volume of rail traffic entering the United States from Mexico.
CBP currently has eight rail imaging systems deployed to the Southwest
Border commercial rail crossings. These rail systems currently provide
CBP with the capability to image and scan 100 percent of all commercial
rail traffic arriving in the United States from Mexico. The rail NII
imaging technology is bi-directional, which provides CBP with the added
capability to image southbound trains. In March 2009, CBP began
conducting 100 percent outbound screening of rail traffic departing the
United States for Mexico for the presence of contraband, such as
explosives, weapons, and currency.
Through funding received from the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act, CBP has procured one high-energy integrated rail
replacement system for deployment to the Southwest Border. The system,
a dual function radiography/radiation detection unit, is currently
undergoing testing and evaluation. CBP anticipates deploying this
system in the next few months.
It is our assessment that CBP land and air interdiction efforts
along the U.S.-Mexico border, drug and human smuggling and trafficking
organizations are increasingly turning to maritime smuggling routes to
transport contraband into the United States. Mexican smuggling
organizations use a variety of methods to enter the United States via
maritime routes, including the use of small open vessels known as
``pangas.'' These small, wood or fiberglass, homemade fishing vessels
use their relatively high speed and small radar signature capabilities
under the cover of darkness to attempt to evade detection by CBP and
U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) surface patrol vessels and patrol aircraft.
A recent trend identified off the California coast is a shift from
using smaller panga vessels that make quick cross-border dashes onto
beach areas near San Diego to using larger pangas that transit further
out to sea and land further up the California coast. These larger,
higher-powered pangas often range in size up to 50 feet in length and
are capable of carrying multi-ton loads of contraband.
These pangas transit from locations south of the U.S.-Mexico border
to smuggle humans and tons of contraband, primarily marijuana. One of
the largest panga boats discovered to date, in April 2012, was
discovered beached near Santa Barbara and found with trace amounts of
cocaine. To date in fiscal year 2012, over 60,000 pounds of marijuana
has been seized in 37 maritime events. Of these 37 events, 27 involved
panga vessels originating from Mexico.
CBP is taking the northern shift in California-based smuggling by
panga vessels very seriously and is evaluating a number of options to
aggressively address these tactics, including adding marine patrol
aircraft and expanding our partnerships with State, local, and Federal
law enforcement partners to base additional coastal marine patrol
vessels in the area.
Mexican smuggling organizations also use pleasure boats in a number
of areas in an attempt to blend in with legitimate boaters and
transport contraband during broad daylight. Smuggling operations using
this technique rely on the sheer number of similar pleasure boats on
U.S. waters on any given day to blend in.
Another method of smuggling contraband into the United States via
the marine environment is through the use of small commercial fishing
and shrimping vessels in areas where there are commercial fishing
fleets. Similar to the pleasure boat smuggling outlined above, this
smuggling method relies on blending in with normal boating traffic in
an effort to elude detection.
Mexican smuggling organizations also attempt to transport
contraband across rivers via high-speed vessels. The limited crossing
distance in many areas means that these high-speed vessels can cross in
a matter of seconds. To counter this threat, CBP has an array of
vessels assigned to its riverine patrol stations, and also uses a
variety of shore-side sensors and agents in high-threat areas.
Given the wide variety of maritime smuggling threats posed by
Mexican smuggling organizations, CBP uses a mix of coastal interceptor
and riverine patrol vessels equipped with marine surface search radars
and electro optic infrared sensors. These vessels and the CBP marine
crews who operate them are in the water, identifying and intercepting
pangas, go-fasts, and shark boats--pleasure and fishing boats used by
Mexican smuggling organizations. Additionally, CBP Office of Air and
Marine (OAM) uses an array of patrol aircraft equipped with marine
search radars and electro optic infrared sensors to conduct periodic
patrols of the maritime approaches to the United States.
In addition to using pangas, the DTOs continue to build and deploy
Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) vessels in the Eastern Pacific
and Western Caribbean. These vessels are designed to sit low in the
water in an attempt to avoid detection by the air and marine assets of
the United States and our partner nations. In three separate incidents
in a 1-week period, CBP OAM P-3 aircraft assisted in the interdiction
of a SPSS carrying close to 14,000 pounds of cocaine, and two vessels
carrying more than 4,400 pounds of cocaine with a combined street value
of more than $1.3 billion.
The OAM P-3 fleet has been an integral part of successful counter-
narcotics missions undertaken by the United States, operating in
coordination with DEA and the Joint Interagency Task Force-South
(JIATF-S). The P-3s patrol in a 42 million-square-mile area of the
Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, known as the Source and Transit
Zone, in search of drugs that are in transit toward United States'
shores. The P-3s' distinctive detection capabilities allow highly-
trained crews to identify emerging threats well beyond the land borders
of the United States. By providing surveillance of known air, land, and
maritime smuggling routes in an area that is twice the size of the
continental United States, the P-3s detect, monitor, and work with USCG
partners to disrupt smuggling activities before they reach the shore.
So far in fiscal year 2012, the P-3 patrols have continued to
demonstrate success in interdicting smuggling attempts. In two separate
incidents during late March and early April, CBP P-3 aircraft detected
northbound go-fast vessels carrying bales of suspected contraband. In
both instances, these vessels were stopped and boarded by partner-
nation law enforcement agencies, resulting in the combined seizure of
more than 4,400 pounds of cocaine.
To date in fiscal year 2012, P-3s operating out of Florida and
Texas have assisted in seizures and disruptions totaling $4.6 billion.
During fiscal year 2011, the P-3 fleet seized or disrupted more than
148,000 pounds of cocaine valued at more than $11.1 billion.
In addition to using proven and new maritime smuggling methods,
DTOs have also turned to new methods of smuggling by air. One method
that has emerged in recent years has been the use of ultralight
aircraft. Under the cover of darkness, ultralights fly across the
Southwest Border and airdrop marijuana cargo to waiting ground crews.
The load size ranges from 200 to 220 pounds of marijuana. During fiscal
year 2011, there were 101 confirmed ultralight events, with 28
narcotics seizures, 16 arrests, and three ultralight aircraft seized.
From October 1, 2011, through June 1, 2012, there were 55 confirmed
ultralight events resulting in 17 narcotics seizures, 11 arrests, and
two ultralight aircraft seized. Currently, the CBP Air and Marine
Operations Center, located in Riverside, California, uses its extensive
airspace monitoring capabilities, as well as the radar capabilities of
the Department of Defense and civilian radar capabilities, to identify
and track suspect ultralight aircraft incursions. CBP is also working
to procure a radar solution specifically designed to detect ultralight
An additional smuggling method is the use of tunnels under the
international border. The first tunnel was discovered by the U.S.
Border Patrol in 1990, and CBP has seen an increase of tunneling
activity in the past few years. As of March 31, 2012, there have been
155 illicit cross-border tunnels discovered--154 along the Southwest
Border and one discovered along the Northern Border near Lynden,
Washington (July 2005). The tunnel threat consists of four categories
of tunnels: Conduit, rudimentary, interconnecting, and sophisticated.
When tunnels are detected, each Southwest Border sector follows
established protocols for coordination, confirmation, assessment,
investigation, exploitation, and remediation. On March 4, 2010, the
Office of Border Patrol was designated the lead office of the CBP
Tunnel Detection and Technology Program with program support from the
CBP Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition (OTIA). This
program has worked to integrate the efforts of DHS, CBP, ICE-HSI, DHS
Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), the Drug Enforcement
Administration, and the Joint Task Force-North into a single entity
that will address tunnel-related activities and technology.
In November 2011, the San Diego Tunnel Task Force discovered two
tunnels and seized 52 tons of marijuana. The first tunnel, discovered
on November 15, 2011, was a sophisticated 400-yard underground cross-
border tunnel that was over 40 feet deep and was equipped with rail,
lighting, and ventilation systems. The discovery of this tunnel
resulted in the seizure of 18 tons of marijuana. The second tunnel,
which was discovered on November 29, 2011, was also a sophisticated
tunnel equipped with lighting and ventilation systems. This tunnel
discovery resulted in the seizure of 34 tons of marijuana. The two
discoveries are the result of collaboration between CBP, ICE, and DEA
along with other agencies, and the use of state-of-the-art electronic
surveillance technology to investigate cross-border smuggling by
During fiscal year 2012 (through March 31, 2012), 11 additional
tunnels were detected--all along the Southwest Border--with six
discoveries in the San Diego Sector and five discoveries in the Tucson
working together to thwart smuggling
In addition to the tools that CBP uses to thwart smuggling
attempts, CBP works with our Federal, State, local, Tribal and
international partners to address smuggling along the Southwest Border
and to combat transnational threats.
CBP hosts a weekly briefing/teleconference with State and local
partners regarding the current state of the border, in order to monitor
emerging trends and threats along the Southwest Border and provide a
cross-component, multi-agency venue for discussing trends and threats.
The weekly briefing focuses on CBP narcotics, weapons, and currency
interdictions and alien apprehensions both at and between the POEs
across the Southwest Border. These briefings/teleconferences currently
include participants from: U.S. Coast Guard; DEA; FBI; ICE; U.S.
Northern Command; Joint Interagency Task Force-North; Joint Interagency
Task Force-South; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives;
U.S. Attorneys' Offices; Canada Border Services Agency; Naval
Investigative Command; State Fusion Centers; and local law enforcement.
Based on the success of the State of the Southwest Border briefing/
teleconference, CBP implemented a State of the U.S./Canada Border
briefing and teleconference. This monthly teleconference is produced
collaboratively with our Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian
Border Services Agency partners, and has been well received by law
enforcement agencies on both sides of our border with Canada.
Moreover, CBP has increased partnerships with Federal, State,
local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies and our Mexican
counterparts, as well as with the public and private sectors.
Coordination and cooperation among all entities that have a stake in
our mission have been, and continue to be, paramount to an effective
Southwest Border strategy. CBP is working closely with Federal, State,
local, Tribal, and international partners to increase intelligence and
information sharing. A Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination cell
has been established at the OAM facilities in Riverside, California,
and Grand Forks, North Dakota, to provide essential information to law
enforcement across the Nation--increasing understanding of evolving
threats and providing the foundation for law enforcement entities to
exercise targeted enforcement in the areas of greatest risk. This
intelligence-driven approach prioritizes emerging threats,
vulnerabilities, and risks, which greatly enhances our border security
An example of our collaborative efforts along the Southwest Border
is the Alliance to Combat Transnational Threats (ACTT) in Arizona. ACTT
is a collaborative enforcement effort, established in September 2009,
that leverages the capabilities and resources of more than 60 Federal,
State, local, and Tribal agencies in Arizona and of agencies of the
government of Mexico to combat individuals and criminal organizations
posing a threat to communities on both sides of the border. Through
ACTT, we work with our Federal, State, local, and Tribal law
enforcement partners to increase collaboration; enhance intelligence
and information sharing; and develop coordinated operational plans that
strategically leverage the unique missions, capabilities, and
jurisdictions of each participating agency. Since its inception, the
work of ACTT has led to the seizure of more than 1.2 million kilograms
(2.7 million pounds) of marijuana, more than 3,800 kilograms (8,400
pounds) of cocaine, and nearly 1,400 kilograms (3,000 pounds) of
methamphetamine; more than $31 million in undeclared U.S. currency and
525 weapons; and approximately 427,000 apprehensions between POEs.
CBP is working closely with DHS S&T to evaluate technologies
against a wide range of land and maritime border threats. Efforts
include test beds on the Northern and Southern Borders to evaluate
border tripwires, acoustic sensors to detect ultralights, and air-based
wide-area surveillance sensors. A port security test bed has been
established to develop improved maritime situational awareness and
information-sharing capabilities for the USCG and CBP. As part of the
Beyond the Border initiative with Canada, CBP and S&T are establishing
a Canada and U.S. Sensor Sharing Pilot. The cross-border pilot will
consist of sharing sensor information between CBP agents and Royal
Canadian Mounted Police on the Northern Border in the area of Swanton,
Beyond these measures, we have taken additional steps to bring
greater unity to our enforcement efforts, expand coordination with
other agencies, and improve response times. Last February, we announced
the Arizona Joint Field Command--an organizational realignment that
brings together Border Patrol, Air and Marine, and Field Operations
under a unified command structure to integrate CBP's border security,
commercial enforcement, and trade facilitation missions to more
effectively meet the unique challenges faced in the Arizona area of
Focusing on leading threat indicators, CBP developed and
implemented the South Texas Campaign (STC) to identify and address
current and emerging threats along the South Texas border. Through
intelligence-sharing, integration of law enforcement resources, and
enhanced coordination and cooperation with the government of Mexico,
the STC conducts targeted operations to disrupt and degrade the ability
of transnational criminal organizations to operate throughout the South
Texas Corridor, while simultaneously facilitating legitimate trade and
Additionally, CBP participates in ICE-led Border Enforcement
Security Taskforces (BESTs), which are composed of Federal, State,
local, and international law enforcement stakeholders. BESTs currently
operate in 31 locations, including 11 along the Southwest Border. BESTs
bring Federal, State, local, territorial, Tribal, and foreign law
enforcement together to work to increase security along the border. In
fiscal year 2011, BESTs made 2,257 criminal arrests and 1,134
administrative arrests; and Federal prosecutors obtained 1,372
indictments and 1,193 convictions in BEST-investigated cases.
Through collaboration and coordination with our many Federal,
State, local, Tribal, and international government partners, we have
made great strides with regard to the integrity and security of our
borders. With your continued assistance, we will continue to refine and
further enhance the effectiveness of our detection and interdiction
Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Cuellar, and Members of the
subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to testify about the work
of CBP. We are committed to providing our front-line agents and
officers with the tools they need to effectively achieve their mission
of securing America's borders and facilitating the movement of
legitimate travel and trade. I look forward to answering any questions
you may have at this time.
Mrs. Miller. Thank you very much.
The Chairwoman now recognizes Mr. Dinkins.
STATEMENT OF JAMES A. DINKINS, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR,
HOMELAND SECURITY INVESTIGATIONS, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS
ENFORCEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Mr. Dinkins. Good morning.
Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Cuellar, and distinguished
Members of the subcommittee, I want to thank you for the
opportunity to appear before you today. It is my pleasure to be
a member of this panel and discuss Homeland Security
Investigation's efforts to disrupt and dismantle transnational
criminal organizations and the threat they pose to our border
There is no question that criminal organizations and the
techniques they have used to smuggle items into the United
States have evolved over the last few years. Often these
changes are a direct response to our security efforts at the
border. I can assure you the thousands of men and women who are
members and represented here behind our organizations are
making a difference.
We are putting pressure on these organizations like never
before. For example, as a result of our efforts on the
Southwest Border TCOs are increasingly resorting to
constructing sophisticated and expensive subterranean tunnels
in an attempt to tunnel their way underneath our border
efforts. Since 1990, when the first tunnel was discovered, we
have seen an increase in the number of subterranean tunnels,
the sophistication of those tunnels, as well as an increase in
the use of sophisticated tunnels east of California, in places
We have also seen an increase in the use of the small
vessels, as Ms. Bucella stated, called pangas. We have two
pictures here of what a panga looks like. These are merely 26-
foot pangas, which were originally a San Diego-area smuggling
phenomenon, but now, in recent months, we are seeing pangas as
long as 50 feet and venturing hundreds of miles north of the
They are also increasing the number of illegal aliens they
are bringing in on pangas as well as the quantity of narcotics
that are being smuggled on these pangas. For example, just last
week a California National Guardsman reported suspicious vessel
off the Malibu coast in California. CBP was alerted and
responded along with HSI and the Ventura County sheriff's
office, and our collective efforts paid off.
The panga was interdicted about a few hundred miles north
of Mexico with three smugglers aboard and carrying a payload of
over 4,000 pounds of marijuana. In addition, our efforts
resulted in the arrests and Federal prosecution of the offload
crew, consisting of 17 members who were waiting on shore to
transport and distribute the drugs.
In addition to having observed a change in the smuggling
concealment techniques, HSI has also seen a change in the
diversification of smuggling organizations. In the world of
international smuggling where the stakes are high we have seen
TCOs that once engaged in smuggling a single type of narcotics
or a single type of contraband expanding their portfolio to
include multiple types of drugs or, in some cases, aliens,
counterfeit goods, or other contraband, where the profits
remain high but the perceived threat of capture and significant
jail time is low.
For example, along the Northern Border, from our BEST in
Blaine, Washington to our BESTs in Detroit and Buffalo, and our
most recent BEST in Messena, New York, we have seen Canadian
DTOs that at one time fueled their criminal enterprises by
smuggling marijuana into the United States and bulk cash
smuggling the proceeds north into Canada, now these same
organizations are involved in not only smuggling high-grade
marijuana into the United States, but after the marijuana is
sold in the United States they use the proceeds to purchase
cocaine from Mexican DTOs. The cocaine is then smuggled north
into Canada, where it can be sold at substantial profits,
effectively doubling or tripling their criminal proceeds.
Another example of TCOs identifying and using new methods
to gain entry into the United States involves using stolen
corporate and business identities to smuggle counterfeit goods
into the United States. This scheme not only victimizes the
rightful intellectual property holder but also victimizes the
corporations or businesses that had their legitimate identities
stolen and used in elaborate international intellectual
property theft schemes.
Just recently we took down an undercover investigation led
by our HSI special agent in charge in Newark, New Jersey with
assistance from CBP, the FBI, and many of our other law
enforcement partners. The IP theft investigation dismantled a
TCO through the arrest of 28 suspects and the seizure of over
$300 million in counterfeit goods had they made the way into
Through the HSI undercover investigation we learned first-
hand about how the organization's smuggling scheme involved the
theft of legitimate corporate and business identities to be
used on importation records for international shipments
containing huge loads of counterfeit goods.
These are just a few of examples on what trends we are
seeing and facing each and every day. In collaboration with DOD
the One DHS approach--working with our State and local law
enforcement partners--is making a difference.
I want to thank you again for the opportunity to be here
today and I look forward to answering any questions you may
[The statement of Mr. Dinkins follows:]
Prepared Statement of James A. Dinkins
June 19, 2012
Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Cuellar, and distinguished Members
of the subcommittee: On behalf of Secretary Napolitano and Director
Morton, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to
discuss the efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
to address border security threats to the United States, our response
to innovative tactics and techniques being used by transnational
criminal organizations (TCOs), and how Homeland Security Investigations
(HSI) is working to investigate, disrupt, and dismantle the TCOs.
ICE has the most expansive investigative authority and largest
force of investigators in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
With more than 20,000 employees and a budget of nearly $6 billion, ICE
has nearly 7,000 special agents assigned to more than 200 cities
throughout the United States and 71 offices in 47 countries worldwide.
HSI is well-positioned to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal
networks by targeting the illicit pathways and organizations that
engage in human smuggling and produce, transport, and distribute
HSI targets TCOs at every critical phase in the cycle:
Internationally in cooperation with foreign counterparts, where
transnational criminal and terrorist organizations operate; at our
Nation's physical border and ports of entry (POEs) in coordination with
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), where the transportation
cells attempt to exploit America's legitimate trade, travel, and
transportation systems; and in coordination with our Federal, State,
local, and Tribal law enforcement partners throughout the United
States, where criminal organizations earn substantial profits off the
smuggling of aliens and narcotics.
No one entity can tackle global criminal enterprises alone. Rather,
it requires a multi-agency, multi-national, and layered approach. To
that end, HSI forges strong and cooperative relationships and works
closely with our Federal, State, local, Tribal, and international
partners toward our mission to uphold public safety and protect
Illicit Pathways Attack Strategy (IPAS)
Last July, an important step in fighting transnational crime was
taken when the administration issued its Strategy to Combat
Transnational Organized Crime (TOC Strategy). This strategy complements
the current National Security Strategy, and other National strategies
such as the National Drug Control Strategy, by focusing on the growing
threat of international criminal networks. The strategy's single
unifying principle is to build, balance, and integrate the tools of
American power to combat transnational organized crime, and related
threats to National security--and to urge our international partners to
do the same.
HSI designed the IPAS to build, balance, and integrate its
authorities and resources, both domestic and foreign, in a focused and
comprehensive manner to target, disrupt, and dismantle transnational
organized crime. As recognized in the TOC Strategy, resources are not
limitless, and targets must be prioritized in a systematic manner. The
IPAS will provide a mechanism for ICE to prioritize threats and
vulnerabilities within its mission and to coordinate its own efforts
internally and within the interagency.
The IPAS goes beyond the Nation's physical borders. We are working
with our international and domestic law enforcement partners to attack
transnational crime at all points along illicit pathways and break down
transnational networks that operate within the United States.
IPAS is a coordinated strategy to attack criminal networks at
multiple locations along the illicit travel continuum. The concept
involves four basic principles that will be conducted with the
appropriate agencies having authority, such as coordination with the
DEA on drug-related matters:
Attacking criminal networks within and beyond our borders;
Prioritizing networks and pathways that pose the greatest
Participating in and facilitating robust interagency
Pursuing a coordinated, regional approach that leverages
We focused our first IPAS on high-risk human smuggling in the
Western Hemisphere to identify and target human smuggling organizations
and their pathways across the globe. HSI is the lead Federal agency
responsible for investigation of human smuggling, and this core mission
function directly impacts National security, public safety, and human
dignity. Human smuggling is also a crime that converges with other
threats. For example, many human smuggling networks rely upon corrupt
public officials to facilitate their efforts. Mexican drug cartels earn
large quantities of money by charging human smugglers for permission to
use their drug routes to enter the United States. These networks also
are involved in bulk cash smuggling, trade-based money laundering,
illicit finance schemes, and the use of hawalas and other money or
value transfer services to move, transfer, and launder their proceeds.
While our initial focus of the IPAS has been on human smuggling, in
the coming months we plan to expand this strategy to include illicit
finance and, eventually, every HSI investigative program area. These
initiatives will be established by following all mandated protocols
based on other U.S. Government authorities and Memoranda of
Understanding with other Federal agencies.
The IPAS combines traditional law enforcement investigations and
prosecutions with efforts to overtly disrupt and deter the underlying
criminal activity. Experience has shown that if we simply try to
disrupt criminal activity by focusing law enforcement action in one
geographic area, we only succeed in ``squeezing the balloon,'' and
criminal organizations will quickly adapt and shift to an area where
detection or interdiction by law enforcement is less likely. HSI's goal
is to not only stop individual criminals, but also to stop or reduce
the criminal activity and dismantle the entire criminal enterprise.
Illegal Tunneling on the Southwest Border
The use of clandestine cross-border tunnels represents a growing
threat to border security, and has been on the rise since the first
documented tunnel was discovered in 1990. Since then, 156 tunnel
attempts have been discovered, all but one of which were located along
the Southwest Border. Over the past several years, HSI has seen a
marked increase in not only the number, but also the sophistication of
In 2003, HSI created the multi-agency San Diego Tunnel Task Force
(TTF) to identify, disrupt, and dismantle TCOs that seek to exploit the
border between the United States and Mexico by constructing
subterranean tunnels and passageways for the purpose of smuggling. In
2006, HSI incorporated the San Diego TTF into the newly-established
Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) to promote border-related
coordination between Federal, State, local, Tribal, and international
law enforcement agencies.
The TTF brings together investigators from several agencies
including ICE, CBP, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Department of Defense, and
various State and local agencies to combat the tunnel threat. One of
the primary goals of the TTF is to stop tunnels before they become
operational. Nearly half of all tunnels discovered to date were not yet
operating at the time of discovery. This trend has increased in recent
years, and demonstrates the success of our collective efforts on the
TTF and our increased coordination with the Government of Mexico. In
March 2012, a BEST TTF was expanded to Nogales, Arizona in an effort to
combat TCO exploitation of the Arizona border via subterranean
The considerable sophistication and extensive time and labor
required to construct a tunnel suggests that smugglers consider it a
useful investment despite the risk of interdiction. For example, on
November 29, 2011, special agents assigned to the San Diego TTF
discovered a cross-border tunnel that stretched nearly a half-mile. The
tunnel extended 1,844 feet and included shoring, electricity,
ventilation, and a rail system to assist in ferrying contraband. During
the course of the investigation, HSI special agents, in conjunction
with DEA, CBP, and our State and local partners, seized over 32 tons of
marijuana, one handgun, and arrested six suspects associated with the
To complement our investigations, HSI, DEA, CBP, and the U.S.
Border Patrol (TTF Members) created the San Diego Tunnel Detection
Outreach program, which is a community outreach and intelligence-driven
enforcement initiative. The goal of this program is to educate the
owners of property near the border on the indicators of tunneling
activity and to increase communication between citizens and the TTF. In
turn, this initiative aims to leverage increased awareness and
communication to generate new investigatory leads, cultivate source
informants, and initiate increased criminal investigations and
prosecutions. The San Diego Tunnel Detection Outreach program is
primarily carried out through door-to-door canvassing of properties
near the border in areas known for illegal tunnel activity and has
proven to be a valuable law enforcement tool.
Overview of Other Smuggling Methods
As Federal and other agencies have increased their interdiction
efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border, drug and human smuggling
organizations are increasingly turning to maritime smuggling routes to
transport their illicit cargo into the United States.
Mexican smuggling organizations have long used a variety of methods
to enter the United States via maritime routes, including small wooden
fishing vessels, as well as panga or ``go fast'' boats. Difficult to
detect, these vessels often travel at night in order to avoid
interdiction. Due to increased patrols by CBP and the U.S. Coast Guard
(USCG), as well as a coordinated law enforcement response to this
threat, smuggling organizations are now moving further out to sea and
increasingly travel further up the coast before attempting to unload
their illicit cargo.
Criminals also seek to exploit vulnerabilities inherent to
America's seaports by concealing contraband in cargo containers or in
commercial fishing and shrimping vessels that can also go unnoticed due
to the sheer volume of ships off-loaded daily from around the world and
normal boating traffic.
Another method of maritime smuggling is the use of self-propelled
semi-submersibles (SPSS). In October 2011, based on intelligence
information provided by DEA, an SPSS was discovered in the Caribbean
Sea and over 14,000 pounds, or over 7 tons, of cocaine were seized from
the vessel. As part of a Panama Express Operation (PANEX), the SPSS was
originally intercepted by the USCG on September 30, 2011, based on
information provided by DEA, in international waters approximately 110
miles off the coast of Honduras, and sank during the encounter. The
USCG detained the four crew members, who were later transferred to
Tampa, Florida for Federal prosecution and each sentenced to 14 years'
incarceration following the joint agency investigation. Earlier in
2011, another SPSS also sank in the Caribbean and approximately 13,000
pounds of cocaine were seized from that vessel.
Beyond maritime smuggling, HSI has also seen an increase in the use
of ultra-light aircraft designed to smuggle marijuana payloads of up to
300 pounds into the United States. We have found that smugglers turn to
using ultra-light aircraft when they are less capable of smuggling
their illicit cargo by other methods. Other examples of the methods
smuggling organizations use to avoid detection include:
Disguising load vehicles as U.S. Border Patrol or other law
enforcement vehicles, as well as vehicles for public utility or
commercial cargo services;
Lining narcotics with chemicals or elements such as lead to
thwart DHS detection methods;
Creating sophisticated compartments in vehicles to smuggle
narcotics, weapons, and bulk currency; or
Utilizing the ``shotgun approach,'' where a smaller load is
sacrificed by being made readily detectable to DHS, thereby
distracting officials from locating larger and/or more
significant drug types (i.e., heroin, cocaine, or
Operation Pipeline Express, a joint operation with DEA and our
other partners, provides an instructive example of an investigation
into a violent Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) that employed some
of the techniques listed above. It was estimated that this DTO, which
controlled an area spanning 63 miles along the I-8 corridor in Arizona,
smuggled between 18,000 and 25,000 pounds of marijuana per week and
generated between $9 million and $12.5 million weekly in illegal
This investigation identified a trend wherein the DTO would hire
backpackers to smuggle narcotics through the international border to a
drop point in the desert. Once the hiker arrived at the drop point, he
or she would be met by a pickup truck in which the narcotics would be
driven approximately 90 miles away to a drop house where the narcotics
would be broken down and transported to street-level drug dealers.
The comprehensive and aggressive investigation culminated with HSI
special agents, in conjunction with DEA and our other law enforcement
partners, seizing nearly 64,000 pounds of marijuana, 271 pounds of
heroin, 200 pounds of cocaine, 9 pounds of methamphetamine, over
$750,000 in cash, 108 weapons, 67 vehicles, and 4 ballistic vests; and
executing 74 search warrants.
Internal conspiracies and corruption are another significant
vulnerability seen by HSI in its investigations of smuggling
organizations at commercial airports and other U.S. POEs. In many of
its investigations, HSI sees how these internal conspiracies utilize
various employees from multiple companies and positions, including
managers and supervisors. Employees utilize innumerable diversionary
tactics to smuggle contraband around CBP examination.
Finally, Mexican smuggling organizations routinely utilize counter-
surveillance methods in an attempt to adjust their methods of operation
based on U.S. law enforcement efforts. ``Spotters,'' as they are known,
operate almost exclusively in Mexico, rarely entering the United States
where they can be detained for questioning or arrest. In addition,
modern cellular telephone and radio communication technology make
detection even more difficult, as organizations can use them to adjust
their modes of operation in order to be more successful.
Combating Illegal Trade and Intellectual Property (IP) Theft
Over the last 2 decades, transnational organized crime has grown
and posed a significant threat to National and international security.
TCO networks are proliferating, striking new and powerful alliances,
and engaging in a range of illicit activities as never before. Recent
investigations have shown that IP crime often fuels other serious
crimes and poses a serious National security threat to our
International criminal organizations will steal America's
intellectual property, transship products, claim false origin, and
mislabel potentially dangerous products--even sell dangerously unsafe
products to the U.S. military--to profit economically.
ICE has adapted to this threat by partnering with 20 other
agencies, both in the United States and with key international
partners, to form the National Intellectual Property Rights
Coordination Center (IPR Center), which is located in Arlington,
Virginia, to efficiently and effectively leverage resources, skills,
and authorities to provide a comprehensive response to IP theft. The
mission of the IPR Center is to address the theft of innovation that
threatens U.S. economic stability and National security, undermines the
competitiveness of U.S. industry in world markets, and places the
public's health and safety at risk.
In March 2012, ICE and the FBI executed a joint enforcement
operation that resulted in the arrests of 28 suspects, including two in
Germany. These arrests were the result of an HSI investigation that
evolved into a large-scale counterfeit smuggling scheme and eventually
merged with an FBI narcotics smuggling investigation. This
investigation revealed the organization to be involved in a web of
criminal activity, which included not only the smuggling of counterfeit
merchandise and narcotics trafficking, but also the use of fictitious
personal and stolen corporate identities to further those activities.
The total estimated manufacturers' suggested retail price of seized
goods that this organization attempted to smuggle was over $300
The IPR Center is also leading an effort to educate the public and
other audiences about IP theft and its connection with transnational
organized crime. The IPR Center hosted a symposium titled ``IP Theft
and International Organized Crime and Terrorism: The Emerging Threat,''
where panels of academics, industry leaders, and domestic and
international Government officials discussed links between
transnational organized crime, terrorism, and IP theft.
Illicit Finance and Bulk Cash Smuggling
The combination of successful financial investigations, reporting
requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, and anti-money
laundering compliance efforts by financial institutions has no doubt
strengthened formal financial systems and forced criminal organizations
to seek other means of transporting illicit funds across our borders.
One of the most effective methods for dismantling TCOs is to attack
the criminal proceeds that are the lifeblood of their operations. HSI
takes a holistic approach toward investigating money laundering,
illicit finance, and financial crimes by examining the ways that
individuals and criminal organizations earn, move, store, and launder
their illicit proceeds. Criminal organizations are now being forced to
seek other means to diversify the movement of illicit funds, such as
the use of money service businesses (MSBs), prepaid devices, and bulk
One of the most significant developments in recent years was a
change in Mexican banking regulations that severely limits the amount
of U.S. dollars that can be deposited within Mexican financial
institutions. This change has ultimately proven to be a successful tool
in combating drug trafficking and the cartels by causing cartels to
change how drug proceeds are laundered. While the cartels are adapting,
we believe that one result of this change may be a desire to place
these funds into U.S. financial institutions and then wire the proceeds
back to Mexico. We continue to work closely with the Government of
Mexico to identify emerging money-laundering trends.
Domestically, we have seen changes in how drug proceeds are moved
within the United States. In the last several years, we have seen
domestic drug organizations attempt to place illicit funds into U.S.
financial institutions to avoid currency transaction reporting
requirements. In one version of this scheme, referred to as the
``funnel account'' model, drug organization members in destination
cities make cash deposits into bank accounts opened in the United
States. In turn, the account holder (a nominee for the drug
organization) will withdraw funds at various banking institutions in
the United States and turn them over (often minus a small fee) to the
drug organization. The scheme has been difficult for bank anti-money
laundering personnel to identify because the funds deposited are
typically under the statutory reporting limit of $10,000.
This tactic was initially identified in human smuggling
organizations operating in Arizona, but we have since seen its use
expanded to domestic drug organizations. We believe that the emergence
of this tactic came as a direct result of the successful enforcement
focus on MSBs that were being used by human smugglers to receive
payments from ``sponsors'' in the United States. When the ability to
easily use MSBs ended, a transition to the funnel account model was
observed. Through on-going outreach and education efforts with
financial institutions and the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement
Network, banking personnel have begun to identify this activity and are
now reporting it to law enforcement regularly.
National Bulk Cash Smuggling Center
On August 11, 2009, HSI officially launched the National Bulk Cash
Smuggling Center (BCSC) as a 24/7 investigative support and operations
facility located in close proximity to the Law Enforcement Support
Center in Williston, Vermont. In 2011, the BCSC entered into a
partnership with the El Paso Intelligence Center, which has resulted in
enhanced data-sharing activity between these two entities. Since its
launch, the BCSC has undertaken a full assessment of the bulk cash
smuggling threat and has developed a strategic plan to address the
By analyzing the movement of bulk cash as a systematic process, HSI
develops enforcement operations to defeat the various smuggling
methodologies currently employed by trafficking organizations. This
approach allows us to more efficiently and effectively utilize our
interdiction and investigative resources.
Since its inception, the BCSC has initiated over 500 criminal
investigations involving 132 seizures totaling $65.8 million. To date,
these investigations culminated in 133 arrests, 36 indictments, and 34
convictions in both Federal and State courts. The BCSC has also
provided training and outreach to over 21,000 State, Federal, and
In April 2012, the BCSC coordinated with HSI field offices in St.
Louis, Missouri and Greeley, Colorado in support of a controlled
delivery of illicit bulk cash proceeds amounting to nearly $265,000.
The initial seizure was the result of a traffic stop, but in an attempt
to ``follow the money trail,'' agents successfully executed a
controlled delivery of the currency.
HSI's Operation Firewall disrupts the movement and smuggling of
bulk cash en route to the border, at the border, and internationally
via commercial and private passenger vehicles, commercial airline
shipments, airline passengers, and pedestrians. Since 2005, Operation
Firewall has been enhanced to include surge operations targeting the
movement of bulk cash destined for the Southwest Border to be smuggled
into Mexico. Since its inception in 2005 through March 2012, Operation
Firewall has resulted in more than 6,600 seizures totaling more than
$611 million, and the arrests of 1,400 individuals. These efforts
include 469 international seizures totaling more than $267 million and
300 international arrests.
Northern Border Security
Although law enforcement efforts along the Southwest Border have
traditionally garnered the most media attention, ICE, in coordination
with its Federal, State, local, Tribal, and international partners, is
well-positioned to address the threat that TCOs pose to both the United
States and Canada along the Northern Border. In fact, HSI maintains the
largest investigative footprint of any U.S. law enforcement agency in
Canada, with four Attache and Assistant Attache offices (Ottawa,
Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal) that enhance National security by
conducting investigations involving TCOs and serving as the agency's
liaison to our interagency partners and counterparts in local
government and law enforcement.
The British Columbia-based ``U.N. Gang'' is an example of a TCO
whose operations stretch across the entire Northern Border and beyond.
This violent criminal organization operates from the Lower Mainland of
British Columbia, Canada, and is actively involved in large-scale
narcotics trafficking and money-laundering activities. Its operations
stretch into the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, India,
Vietnam, Australia, and Great Britain. This gang exports large
quantities of Canadian-grown marijuana into the United States and uses
the revenue generated to purchase cocaine from abroad, which is then
smuggled into British Columbia and sold throughout Canada.
During a recent joint investigation with DEA and its other Federal,
State, and local law enforcement partners, we uncovered evidence that
the U.N. Gang imports hundreds of pounds of cocaine into British
Columbia every month. After Canadian marijuana is smuggled into the
United States, U.N. Gang members sell it for U.S. dollars. These
proceeds are then smuggled by couriers in the form of bulk currency
from cities across the United States to California where they are used
to purchase cocaine from abroad. This cocaine, in turn, is smuggled
into Canada and subsequently sold for Canadian dollars. This method of
drug trafficking and money laundering exemplifies the sophistication
and reach of the DTOs.
Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST)
HSI continues to expand the BEST program, which currently operates
in 31 locations throughout the United States and Mexico. BEST leverages
over 750 Federal, State, local, and foreign law enforcement agents and
officers representing over 100 law enforcement agencies. BEST also
provides a co-located platform to conduct intelligence-driven
investigations aimed at identifying, disrupting, and dismantling
transnational criminal organizations that operate in the air, land, and
sea environments. In fical year 2011, BESTs made 2,257 criminal
arrests, 1,134 administrative arrests, and Federal prosecutors obtained
1,372 indictments and 1,193 convictions in BEST-investigated cases.
Working with Mexican Authorities
Working with the government of Mexico in its battle against drug
violence requires strong coordination to ensure both nations are
operating together to combat this transnational threat. HSI continues
to engage Mexican authorities on a number of levels in our joint
efforts to combat border violence. For example, HSI's Border Liaison
Officer (BLO) program allows HSI to more effectively identify and
combat cross-border criminal organizations by providing a streamlined
information and intelligence-sharing mechanism. The BLO program has an
open and cooperative working relationship between United States and
Mexican law enforcement entities. HSI has recently quadrupled the
number of officers in the BLO program by redeploying agents to the
The HSI Attache office in Mexico City has coordinated its own
Special Investigative Units of Mexican law enforcement officers. HSI
has also strengthened the coordination with the government of Mexico by
increasing HSI personnel in Mexico by 50 percent and deploying
additional special agents to Mexico. Through our Attache in Mexico City
and associated sub-offices, HSI assists DEA in efforts to combat
transnational drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human smuggling, and
money laundering syndicates in Mexico. HSI Mexico City personnel, in
conjunction with DEA, work on a daily basis with Mexican authorities to
combat these transnational threats, and these efforts have been
enhanced by additional officers.
Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today to
discuss our efforts to combat border security threats to the United
States and our response to the innovative tactics and techniques being
used by criminal cross-border smuggling organizations.
I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Mrs. Miller. Thank you very much.
The Chairman now recognizes Rear Admiral Lee for his
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM D. LEE, DEPUTY FOR OPERATIONS POLICY &
CAPABILITIES, U.S. COAST GUARD, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Admiral Lee. Good morning, Chairman Miller, Ranking Member
Cuellar, and other distinguished Members of the subcommittee. I
am honored to be here today to discuss the Coast Guard role in
combating our emerging border security threats as the lead
agency in the country's maritime domain.
As you probably know, the Coast Guard uses a layered
defense strategy to counter the threats we face in the maritime
approaches to our Nation's borders. This strategy starts
overseas with our partner nations, where our International Port
Security program assessing foreign ports on their own security
and antiterrorism measures and continues over here into our own
domestic ports, where we monitor critical infrastructure,
escort vessels, and inspect various facilities in conjunction
with our Federal, State, local, Tribal, and industry partners.
Offshore our major cutter fleet is always on patrol and
poised to respond to threats on the high seas. This critical
surface fleet is supported by our aviation assets, which
provide surveillance capability to help optimize our overall
This offshore mix, both surface and air, is critical to
stopping the threats long before they reach our shores.
Last summer my colleague, Admiral Paul Zukunft, testified
before you on the key role that interagency and international
partnerships play in protecting our maritime borders. These
partnerships are critical to enhancing our capability and
effectiveness along our coast and our waterways.
An outstanding example of such a partnership is the Joint
Harbor Operations Center, or JHOC, located at Coast Guard
Sector San Diego, which is staffed by personnel from more than
20 agencies, including the Coast Guard, CBP, the Department of
Defense, and the local marine police. In fiscal year 2011 and
2012 so far the JHOC coordinated the interdiction of over 1,100
illegal migrants and more than 80,000 pounds of illegal drugs
destined for the streets of the United States.
To the north we enjoy very strong partnership with Canada.
Through Integrated Border Enforcement Team operations Coast
Guard and Royal Canadian Mountie--Canadian Mounted Police
officers jointly conduct interdiction operations. In March 2011
this partnership resulted in the interdiction of over $2.5
million in U.S. currency, the largest maritime currency seizure
in Puget Sound history.
From the partnership the integrated cross-border maritime
law enforcement operations relationship, commonly referred to
as Shiprider, was developed. Shiprider, if ratified by the
Canadian Parliament, will allow U.S. and Canadian officers to
be trained and cross-designated with law enforcement authority
on both sides of our border. This is an innovative force
multiplier that we hope will grow deep roots.
Another example of partnering is the North American
Maritime Security Initiative, or NAMSI, which facilitates
coordination of training, tactics, and operation between the
United States, Canada, and Mexico. Since the inception of NAMSI
in December 2008 there have been 24 joint cases resulting in
the seizure of more than 62,000 pounds of illegal narcotics.
Just last month the Coast Guard C-130 aircraft, on a
training mission near San Clemente Island, California, detected
a fast-moving small boat with bales visible on its deck. Upon
seeing the aircraft the small boat began to jettison the bales
and then head towards Mexican territorial seas. A Coast Guard
cutter was vectored in and recovered 42 bales of marijuana. The
Mexican navy seized the boat after it was beached on land.
Our approach to border security is risk-based, allowing for
the most effective posturing of our limited resources. To
maximize this effort we participate as a member of the National
intelligence community. We screen ships, crews, and passengers
bound for the United States by requesting vessels to submit an
advance notice of arrival 96 hours prior to arriving in any
Using our two maritime intelligence fusion centers and our
Intelligence Coordinator Center's COASTWATCH program we work
with CBP's National Targeting Center to analyze arriving
vessels and ascertain potential risks they may pose. Last year
we collectively screened more than 120,000 vessels and 28
Our layered approach to maritime border security combined
with our interagency and international partnership serves to
protect our border out and beyond our physical boundaries. This
strategy, supported by information and intelligence sharing
allows us to collectively detect, deter, and interdict threats
well before they pose a threat to our Nation.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today
and for your continued support of the United States Coast
Guard. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
[The statement of Admiral Lee follows:]
Prepared Statement of William D. Lee
June 19, 2012
Good morning Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Cuellar, and
distinguished Members of the subcommittee. I am honored to be here
today to discuss the Coast Guard's role in combating emerging border
security threats, and in particular, the Coast Guard's role within the
Threats to the Nation's border are dynamic and widespread, ranging
from known illegal drug and migrant smuggling in the Caribbean Basin
and Eastern Pacific to the potential for terrorist and criminal
organizations to impact security, safety, and resiliency of our Nation,
and hamper the safe and secure movement of commerce through the global
a layered approach to counter maritime risk
With more than 350 ports and 95,000 miles of coastline, the U.S.
maritime domain is unique in its scope and diversity. Under 14 U.S.C.
sections 2 and 89, the U.S. Coast Guard has the statutory authority and
responsibility to enforce all applicable Federal laws on, under, and
over the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United
The Coast Guard leverages its unique authorities, capabilities, and
domestic and international partnerships to maintain maritime border
security through a layered and integrated approach that begins beyond
the country's physical borders. This layered approach to security
begins in foreign ports where, through the International Port Security
Program, the Coast Guard conducts foreign port assessments to determine
the port security effectiveness and antiterrorism measures of foreign
Offshore, a capable major cutter and patrol boat fleet respond to
threats, and launch boats and aircraft to maintain a vigilant presence
over the seas. Closer to shore, Coast Guard helicopters, small cutters,
and boats monitor, track, interdict, and board vessels. In our ports,
the Coast Guard, along with our Federal, State, local, and Tribal
partners, working in concert with other port stakeholders, monitors
critical infrastructure, conducts vessel escorts and patrols, and
inspects vessels and facilities. The Coast Guard's mix of cutters,
aircraft, and boats--all operated by highly proficient personnel--
allows the Coast Guard to exercise layered and effective security
through the entire maritime domain.
This layered approach, which is risk-based and facilitated by our
participation within the National intelligence community, allows the
Coast Guard to effectively position its limited resources against the
Nation's most emergent threats.
To combat threats furthest from our borders, the Coast Guard
fosters strategic relationships with partner nations. The International
Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code provides an international
regime to ensure ship and port facilities take appropriate preventative
measures comparable to our domestic regime under the Maritime
Transportation Security Act. Under the International Port Security
Program, Coast Guard personnel visit over 150 countries and 900 ports
on a biennial cycle to assess the effectiveness of foreign port
antiterrorism measures and verify compliance with the ISPS Code.
Vessels arriving from non-ISPS-compliant countries are required to take
additional security precautions, may be boarded by the Coast Guard
before being granted permission to enter, and in specific cases, may be
Additionally, the Coast Guard maintains 42 maritime bilateral law
enforcement agreements with partner nations, which facilitate
coordination and the forward deployment of boats, cutters, aircraft,
and personnel to deter and counter threats as close to their origin as
possible. These agreements also enable us to assist partner nations in
exerting their span of control and maintaining regional maritime domain
To address the threats and leverage the opportunities for improving
border security closer to the United States, the Coast Guard, U.S.
Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the Mexican Navy (SEMAR), and the Mexican
Secretariat for Communications and Transportation (SCT), have
strengthened their collective relationship, in part through the
Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). This commitment demonstrates
that the United States and Mexico share many areas of mutual interest
that are vital to the security of each country. SEMAR and SCT are
increasing their engagement with the Coast Guard through training,
exercises, coordinated operations, and intelligence and information
The North American Maritime Security Initiative (NAMSI) provides an
operational relationship between SEMAR, NORTHCOM, the government of
Canada, and the Coast Guard and coordinates standard procedures for
communications, training, procedures, and operations. Since the
inception of NAMSI in December 2008, there have been 24 joint cases
yielding 62,816 pounds of narcotics seizures.
On our shared border with Canada, the Coast Guard is an integral
part of the Integrated Border Enforcement Team operations where U.S.
and Canadian agencies work together sharing information and expertise
to support interdiction operations along the U.S. and Canadian border.
From this partnership, an operational relationship known as Integrated
Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations, commonly referred to
as Shiprider, was developed. The Shiprider Framework Agreement is on
schedule to be considered for ratification by the Canadian Parliament
during the summer of 2012. This will allow unprecedented law
enforcement flexibility in the shared waters of the U.S. and Canadian
When the Shiprider Framework Agreement is ratified, specially-
trained U.S. and Canadian officers from Federal, State, local, and
Tribal agencies will be granted cross-designated law enforcement
authorities. U.S. officers will become Peace Officers in Canada, and
Canadian officers will be Customs Officers in the United States. They
will facilitate improved integrated operations and provide the ability
to U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officers to carry weapons and
conduct law enforcement operations on both sides of the border. The
Coast Guard is the lead U.S. agency, or Central Authority, for
Shiprider, as is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for Canada.
The Coast Guard and RCMP have developed an educational curriculum
taught at the Coast Guard's Maritime Law Enforcement Academy in
Charleston, South Carolina. To date, law enforcement officers from the
Coast Guard and RCMP, in addition to officers from U.S. Customs and
Border Protection (CBP) and Tribal law enforcement officers from the
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe (United States) and Akwesasne Tribe (Canada)
have been trained and cross-designated.
As outlined by President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Harper
in the Beyond the Border declaration, border security includes the
safety, security, and resiliency of our Nation; the protection of our
environmental resources; and the facilitation of the safe and secure
movement of commerce in the global supply chain. Specific to our
Nation's Southwest Border, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
implemented a Southwest Border Security Initiative to keep our
communities safe from threats of border-related violence and crime, and
to weaken the transnational criminal organizations that threaten the
safety of communities in the United States and Mexico.
The Coast Guard coordinates and conducts joint operations with
other DHS components and interagency partners to ensure a whole-of-
Government response to border threats. A DHS Senior Guidance Team
(SGT), co-chaired by the Coast Guard, CBP, and U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, serves to improve efficiency and effectiveness
within DHS. Recently, the SGT facilitated promulgation of the DHS Small
Vessel Security Implementation Plan as well as the Maritime Operations
Coordination Plan, which ensures operational coordination, planning,
information sharing, intelligence integration, and response activities.
Coast Guard Captains of the Port are designated as Federal Maritime
Security Coordinators. In this role, they lead the Area Maritime
Security (AMS) Committees and oversee development and regular review of
AMS Plans. AMS Committees have developed strong working relationships
with other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in an
environment that fosters maritime stakeholder participation.
The Joint Harbor Operations Center (JHOC) in San Diego, California
is another example of the evolution of joint operations at the port
level. Located at Coast Guard Sector San Diego, the JHOC is manned with
Coast Guard, CBP, and local Marine Police watchstanders. JHOC-
coordinated operations contributed directly to the interdiction of
1,103 illegal immigrants and 80,500 pounds of illegal drugs in fiscal
year 2011 and fiscal year 2012 (through May 27). On a National scale,
the establishment of Interagency Operations Centers (IOCs) for port
security is well underway. In ports such as Charleston, Puget Sound,
San Diego, Boston, and Jacksonville, the Coast Guard, CBP, and other
agencies are sharing workspace and coordinating operational efforts for
improved efficiency and effectiveness of maritime security operations.
Joint interdiction operations with Federal partners are coordinated
through the Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S). Additionally,
Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments are deployed aboard U.S. Navy
and Allied assets to support detection, monitoring, interdiction, and
The Coast Guard has also established formal partnerships to
collaborate with CBP on their maritime Predator Unmanned Aerial System
(UAS) program (land-based), and the Navy on their Fire Scout UAS
program (cutter-based), to continue efforts to develop this expanding
capability. UAS capability will improve detection and surveillance
When the Coast Guard is alerted to a threat to the United States
that requires a coordinated U.S. Government response, the Maritime
Operational Threat Response (MOTR) Plan is activated. The MOTR Plan
uses established protocols and an integrated network of National-level
maritime command and operations centers to facilitate real-time Federal
interagency communication, coordination, and decision-making to ensure
timely and decisive responses to counter maritime threats.
maritime intelligence and targeting
As the lead DHS agency for maritime homeland security, the Coast
Guard screens ships, crews, and passengers bound for the United States
by requiring vessels to submit an Advance Notice of Arrival 96 hours
prior to their arriving in a U.S. port. The Coast Guard, through its
two Maritime Intelligence Fusion Centers and our Intelligence
Coordination Center's COASTWATCH unit, works with CBP's National
Targeting Center to analyze arriving vessels to ascertain potential
risks they may pose to our Nation's security. In 2011, the Coast Guard
screened more than 120,000 vessels and 28.5 million people. Screening
results are passed to the appropriate Coast Guard Sector Command
Center, local intelligence staffs, and CBP to be used to evaluate and
take action on any potential risks. This integration has led to
increased information sharing and more effective security operations.
The Coast Guard also participates in the Container Security
Initiative, led by CBP, to ensure that all U.S.-bound maritime shipping
containers posing a potential risk are identified and inspected prior
to being placed on vessels bound for the United States. This initiative
encourages interagency cooperation through collecting and sharing
information and trade data gathered from ports, strengthening
cooperation, and facilitating risk-informed decision making.
The Coast Guard has forged effective international and domestic
partnerships to optimize maritime border security while minimizing
delays to the flow of commerce. We foster training, share intelligence
and information, as appropriate, and coordinate operations to deter and
interdict current and emerging threats to our border.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today, and for your
continued support of the U.S. Coast Guard. I would be pleased to answer
Mrs. Miller. Thank you very much, Admiral.
The Chairwoman now recognizes Rear Admiral Michel for his
STATEMENT OF CHARLES D. MICHEL, DIRECTOR, JOINT INTERAGENCY
Admiral Michel. Morning, Chairman Miller, Ranking Member
Cuellar, Members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the
opportunity to appear before you this morning.
Joint Interagency Task Force-South is a multiservice,
multiagency, National task force and a component of the United
States Southern Command, located in Key West, Florida. We
conduct counter-illicit trafficking support operations,
intelligence fusion, and multi-sensor correlation to detect,
monitor, and hand off suspected illicit trafficking targets and
counter the flow of illicit traffic.
Illicit trafficking poses a serious threat to our National
and homeland security, presenting a formidable challenge not
only for the United States but for our international partners,
as well. Our borders and our neighbors are being assailed by a
dangerous adversary that is well-resourced, adaptive, and
experienced at employing all modes and means of conveyance
across sea, air, and land domains to reach the United States
and global markets with their deadly products. The challenge is
Transnational organized crime and the cocaine trade have a
demonstrably corrosive and destabilizing effect on the rule of
law and civil society in every country where they have a
significant presence. Cocaine is unique in that is--it is only
produced in marketable volumes and quality in three countries--
Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia. It thus has a distinctive flow
pattern as it is moved from the three source countries to
global markets. It is this flow and the crime that goes with it
that threatens Central America, Mexico, and the United States,
bringing with it brutal violence, fear, and instability.
My statutory focus as director of Joint Interagency Task
Force-South is to combat transnational criminal organizations
by detecting the flow of drugs early in its supply chain and
facilitating its interdiction as far from our borders as
possible. Through solid intelligence, innovation, and
unprecedented interagency and international partnerships Joint
Interagency Task Force-South supported record cocaine
disruptions totaling nearly 2,000 metric tons over the last 10
Approximately 80 percent of the cocaine headed for the
United States transits via maritime conveyance while the
remaining 20 percent makes its first moves by air. About 90
percent of the cocaine destined for the United States travels
through the Mexico-Central American corridor, which includes
the waters of the Eastern Pacific as well as the Western
The primary means by which cocaine is transported is the
go-fast boat, usually open-hulled boats anywhere from 20 to 50
feet in length with several powerful outboard engines. In 2011
there were 568 go-fast events moving 490 metric tons of cocaine
towards the United States through the Central American
corridor. This massive volume moving through the countries in
Central America fuels the transnational criminal organizations
causing violence, instability, and corruption, especially in
northern Central America and in Mexico, along our Southwest
The self-propelled semi-submersibles and fully-submersible
vessels are potentially an even more insidious threat to the
security of the United States because they are capable of
transporting up to a 10-ton payload and are extraordinarily
difficult to detect at sea due to their very low profile or
even submerge capabilities. These dangerous drug conveyances
could be adapted for transporting other, more serious security
threats to the United States.
At less than a million dollars apiece in construction costs
the self-propelled semi-submersible can move enough cocaine in
a single trip to generate more than $100 million in illicit
proceeds. Since 2006, when the first self-propelled semi-
submersible was detected, there have been as many as 60 such
events moving as much as 330 metric tons per year in the
Eastern Pacific. In the summer of 2011 for the first time Joint
Interagency Task Force-South supported the disruption of five
self-propelled semi-submersible vessels in the Western
Caribbean, each carrying more than 6.5 metric tons of cocaine.
The fully-submersible vessels can transit up to 6,800
nautical miles unsupported and fully loaded with up to 10
metric tons of cargo. This range capability can take a fully-
submersible vessel from the west coast of Columbia to Los
Angeles or from the north coast of Columbia to Galveston.
The foresight and wisdom of Congress deserves a note of
thanks for enacting the Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction
Act of 2008, which made the mere operation of stateless semi-
and fully-submersible vessels in international waters a crime.
Record illicit trafficking successes in the mid-2000s drove
a change in trafficking routes. Most alarming was movement in
the maritime operations to the Central American littorals.
To counter this shift and to alleviate the pressure on
Central American countries Operation MARTILLO began in earnest
in--on 15 January 2012. It is the focusing lens of a whole-of-
government international solution to this significant threat to
regional stability and homeland security. Operation MARTILLO
seeks to deny trafficker use of Central American littorals and
maximize the interdiction efforts of our interagency and
Chairwoman Miller, Ranking Member Cuellar, Members of the
subcommittee, we fight a highly-disciplined, well-funded
adversary that employs cutting-edge technology, improvises
their tactics, and shifts seamlessly between modes of
communications and methods of conveyance.
Thank you again for the opportunity to testify today and I
am happy to answer any questions you might have.
[The statement of Admiral Michel follows:]
Prepared Statement of Charles D. Michel
19 June 2012
Chairwoman Miller, Ranking Member Cuellar, and other distinguished
Members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear
before the subcommittee. Illicit trafficking poses a serious threat to
our National security, presenting a formidable challenge not only for
the United States but for our international partners as well. Our
borders are being assailed by a dangerous adversary that is well-
resourced, adaptive, and experienced at exploiting all avenues of
approach to the United States. These transnational criminal networks
employ all modes and means of conveyance across all transportation
domains to reach U.S. and global markets. The challenge is daunting.
Illicit trafficking threatens our country at every land, air, and
sea border and challenges the sovereignty of our many international
partners. In particular, the tactics, techniques, and procedures
employed by drug traffickers are methodologies that can be used by
anyone wanting to move illicit people and/or cargo--including
terrorists. The established routes, proven methods of conveyances,
built-in logistics, communications, and command-and-control networks
could be leveraged by a variety of groups seeking to do harm to the
United States. While this potential exists, to date, Joint Interagency
Task Force-South (JIATF-South) and U.S. Southern Command have not seen
any indication of terrorist organizations or their affiliates using
illicit trafficking networks to reach the United States to commit acts
of terrorism. We continue to monitor this possibility closely.
JIATF-South has broad legal authorities to conduct detection and
monitoring operations against illicit trafficking in order to hand off
targets to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. The highest
priorities are Nationally-nominated targets of interest, from weapons
of mass destruction to special interest aliens and high-value targets.
The next tier down comprises a broad spectrum of transnational threats,
to include the cocaine trade that by itself is worth an estimated $85
billion globally.\1\ Staggering amounts of revenue and profit allow
transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) to challenge nations by
exacerbating corruption and undermining governance, rule of law,
judicial systems, free press, democratic institution-building, and
transparency, as indicated in the 2011 Strategy to Combat Transnational
Organized Crime (CTOC).\2\ Cocaine is still one of the most lucrative
forms of profit for TCOs and is produced in marketable volumes and
quality in three countries in South America: Colombia, Peru, and
Bolivia.\3\ Peru and Bolivia have the potential to produce 41 percent
and 25 percent of the total cocaine volume respectively, and Colombia
potentially produces 34 percent.\4\ According to Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA), of the United States drug seizures subjected to
forensic analysis, 97 percent comes from Colombia,\5\ and it is this
specific flow that threatens Central America, Mexico, and the United
\1\ UNODC World Drug Report 2011.
\2\ The White House. President Obama's Strategy to Combat
Transnational Organized Crime.
\3\ 2010 Interagency Assessment of Cocaine Movement.
\4\ 2010 Interagency Assessment of Cocaine Movement. Potential
production is assessed by arable hectares available for coca growth.
\5\ DEA. Analysis of Cocaine Price and Quality.
With a homicide rate of 82 per 100,000,\6\ Honduras is the most
dangerous country in the world, including the current zones of conflict
in the Middle East. San Pedro Sula, Honduras has a homicide rate of 159
deaths per 100,000 citizens, surpassing Ciudad Juarez, Mexico as the
world's most violent city.\7\ Violent TCOs and gang activity, supported
by the flow of cocaine and other contraband towards the United States
and the rest of the global market, are negatively impacting citizen
security. As illicit drugs move outward to the consuming markets, the
money from illicit drug transactions returns to the source and transit
regions, creating instability within our partner countries by promoting
corruption and undermining legitimate financial institutions. My
statutory focus as director of JIATF-South is combating the illicit
drug trade by detecting the flow of drugs early in the supply chain and
facilitating interdiction as far from our borders as possible, before
illicit drugs are broken down into small, harder-to-detect load sizes.
Operation MARTILLO is the focusing lens of a whole-of-Government,
international solution to this significant regional threat to National
security. Coordinated by JIATF-South to support the President's CTOC
strategy, Operation MARTILLO seeks to deny the use of the Central
American littorals by TCOs while maximizing the drug interdiction
efforts of our interagency partners in the principal geographic
corridor through which the bulk of illicit drugs moves toward the
\6\ UNODC 2011 Homicide Rates by Country.
\7\ Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad, Justicia y Paz Penal A.C.
(Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice), Mexico,
drug movement in the transit zone: go-fasts, semi-submersibles, and
JIATF-South challenges drug traffickers in the air and on the sea
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in defense of America's borders. We are
relentless and committed while operating in a resource-constrained
environment. Our goal is to put drug traffickers at risk of
interdiction and arrest at each and every step of their journey. We
work very hard in constant support of law enforcement to ensure this
all occurs seamlessly with the most effective use of our resources.
Through better intelligence, technological innovations, and
unprecedented interagency and international partnerships, JIATF-South
has supported record cocaine disruptions, totaling 1,997 metric tons
over the last 10 years.\8\
\8\ JIATF-South analysis of Interagency Consolidated Counter Drug
From all indications, 80 percent of cocaine, bound for the United
States, transits initially via maritime methods of conveyance, while
the remaining 20 percent makes its first moves by air.\9\ Today,
Honduras is the primary initial arrival point for cocaine as it leaves
the source zone; in 2011, approximate 35 percent of the world's cocaine
supply made its first landfall there.\10\ Once on land, larger loads
are eventually broken down into smaller packages before entering the
United States. The Mexico/Central American corridor, which includes the
waters of the Eastern Pacific and Western Caribbean, is the primary
threat vector toward the United States, accounting for more than 90
percent of total documented cocaine movement.\11\
\9\ JIATF-South case analysis.
\10\ JIATF-South analysis of Interagency Consolidated Counter Drug
\11\ JIATF-South analysis of Interagency Consolidated Counter-Drug
Cocaine from the source zone moves by a number of conveyances, the
primary being go-fasts, usually open-hulled boats anywhere from 20 to
50 feet in length with one to four powerful outboard engines. Carrying
anywhere from 300 kilograms to 3.5 metric tons of cocaine, these
vessels typically leave Colombia and follow the Western Caribbean
coastline of Central America to make landfall, principally in Honduras.
In the Eastern Pacific, the same types of vessels will leave Colombia
or Ecuador, and transit off-shore to Guatemala and Mexico or follow the
coastline to Panama or Costa Rica.
In 2011, the interagency's Consolidated Counter Drug Database
(CCDB) indicated that there were 568 go-fast events moving 490 metric
tons of cocaine from South America toward the United States. Ninety-
four percent of those movements were along the Central American isthmus
into Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.\12\ This massive volume moving
off-shore and often through the countries of Central America is
contributing to the instability and corruption seen in northern Central
America, Mexico, and along our Southwest Border.
\12\ Interagency Consolidated Counter-Drug Database (CCDB).
Though not present in the same numbers as go-fasts, the Self-
Propelled Semi-Submersibles (SPSS) and Fully Submersible Vessels (FSV)
are potentially an even more insidious threat to the security of the
United States for two reasons: (1) Their large, up to 10-ton payload
capacity, and (2) the extraordinary difficulty of detecting these
vessels at sea. This makes them a dangerous drug conveyance that could
potentially be adapted for transporting other more serious security
threats to the United States.\13\
\13\ Office of Naval Intelligence, Assessments of seized SPSS and
The SPSS is typically constructed in undergoverned spaces, often in
the sparsely-populated mangrove estuaries of Western Colombia and
Ecuador. Costing less than a million dollars apiece to construct, they
can move enough cocaine in a single trip to generate more than $100
million in illicit proceeds for the traffickers.\14\ JIATF-South
detected an SPSS at sea for the first time in 2006. By 2009, the
interagency detected as many as 60 SPSS events were moving as much as
330 metric tons per year. Prior to 2011, SPSS had only been employed by
traffickers in the Eastern Pacific. However, since July 2011, JIATF-
South has supported the disruption of five SPSS vessels in the Western
Caribbean, each carrying more than 6.5 metric tons of cocaine. There
have been a total of 214 documented SPSS events, but only 45 were
disrupted due largely to the difficulty of detecting such low-profile
vessels.\15\ The Congress, deserves a note of thanks for its foresight
and wisdom in enacting 18 USC 2285, the Drug Trafficking Vessel
Interdiction Act of 2008, which made the mere operation of these
stateless vessels in international waters a crime. This has greatly
helped interdiction efforts because it eliminated the necessity for law
enforcement authorities to recover contraband in order to affect
successful arrests and prosecutions. The SPSS was an evolutionary step
in the creation of a covert capability to transport multi-ton loads of
contraband without any logistical support or refueling. This capability
is now present in the FSV. These vessels can get underway from the
source region, fully loaded with up to 10 metric tons of cocaine and a
crew of four, and travel up to 6,800 nautical miles unsupported.\16\
Though there is currently no intelligence of shipments directly to the
United States, this is a range capacity that can take an FSV from the
west coast of Colombia to the coast near Los Angeles, or from the north
coast of Colombia to Galveston. Unlike the SPSS, the FSV power plants
are typically complex diesel-electric systems that allow them to
operate submerged by day on battery power and to run on the surface at
night while recharging their batteries. As complex and sophisticated as
they may appear, FSVs are constructed in the same undergoverned
locations as SPSSs. These areas are very difficult for law enforcement
or even military forces to reach. However, three FSVs have been seized
in remote jungle areas, the first in Ecuador in 2010, and the last two
in Colombia. Each of these three vessels was unique in its construction
and had cargo capacities of over 7 metric tons. In 2011, the
Interagency documented three FSV movements, none of which were
\14\ JIATF-South and Office of Naval Intelligence assessment of
\15\ Interagency CCDB.
\16\ Office of Naval Intelligence, Assessments of seized FSVs.
\17\ Interagency CCDB.
operation martillo: supporting regional stability/national security
Record interdiction years in the mid-2000s caused TCOs to react and
mitigate their risk in several ways. SPSSs and FSVs were developed and
their operations refined. Go-fast load sizes were reduced while the
number of events increased significantly. Most alarmingly, TCO
operations at sea were moved from deep water, where technological
advantages favored U.S. interdiction forces, to the Central American
\18\ 2010 Interagency Assessment of Cocaine Movement.
This operational migration toward the Central American isthmus
created an increasingly difficult and destabilizing situation whereby
primary drug movements from the source zone made landfall earlier,
often in countries incapable of stopping them. Operating in and around
the territorial waters of Central America made international
cooperation and bi-lateral agreements all the more critical to our
To counter this shift in flow and to alleviate pressure on Central
American countries, Operation MARTILLO began in earnest on 15 January
2012. It is one component of a U.S. whole-of-Government approach to
counter the spread of Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) in Central
America. By demonstrating a consistent presence in the littorals of
Central America, the United States, and our international partners seek
to force TOC networks to move their transshipment routes to deeper
waters in the Pacific and Caribbean. Operation MARTILLO demonstrates a
clear commitment on the part of Western Hemisphere nations and other
allies to work together to combat the spread of TCOs, and to protect
their citizens from the violence, harm, and exploitation wrought by TCO
networks. Operation MARTILLO created a framework whereby complementary
operations by partner nations and other U.S. Government agencies could
increase the effectiveness and synergy against TCOs in a difficult
budget and operating environment.
Since 15 January, JIATF-South has documented significant decreases
in the flow of illicit drugs in the Central American corridor (see
graphic above). Compared to the same period in 2011, the JIATF-South
documented flow of illicit drugs in the Central American corridor
dropped by 46 metric tons. While cocaine flow is down in most of the
region, we did note a significant increase in activity in the Eastern
Pacific littorals which we attribute to increased awareness of tracks
brought by enhanced focus of our interagency and international partners
in the region.\19\ Our law enforcement partners are expending great
effort to provide actionable information to support the operation. This
translates to a significantly increased awareness of the movement of
cocaine over previous years.
\19\ JIATF-South analysis of CCDB and JIATF-South case analysis.
The overall significant decrease in movement indicates an impact on
the traffickers caused by the presence of U.S. ships and aircraft, the
efforts of our law enforcement partners and those of our allies and
partner nations in the region. Further illustrating the commitment of
our hemispheric partners, I note that partner nations have participated
in 83 percent of disrupted events, acting as a force multiplier and
playing an enormous role in the success of the operation. Though we
have not yet seen the traffickers shift to another region in the Joint
Operating Area, we assess that a continued persistent presence over
time will force them to change their tactics and we are prepared to
respond to that shift when the time comes.
Our target set spans the full spectrum of National and
international security, presenting a formidable transnational challenge
for U.S. and allied nations. We fight a highly mobile, disciplined, and
well-funded adversary that threatens democratic governments, terrorizes
populations, impedes economic development, and creates regional
instability. The mission to counter transnational organized crime and
illicit trafficking cannot be viewed in isolation from our efforts to
combat terrorism, because the patterns, tactics, and techniques
employed by traffickers are the same as the methodologies used by
anyone wanting to move illicit people or cargo--including terrorists.
Our operational successes indicate an increasing level of
trafficker sophistication and innovation as they rapidly employ readily
available cutting-edge technologies, change their tactics, and shift
seamlessly between modes of communication and methods of conveyance.
Our success is dependent upon our collective capability to be more
innovative, more adaptive, and more agile than our adversaries.
Currently, we are unable to target 74 percent of high-confidence
events. Of the 26 percent that we are able to target the principle
impediment to successful detection and monitoring is the lack of the
necessary sensors to generate persistent wide-area surveillance and
precision geolocation. In spite of our challenges, we continue to be
successful for two primary reasons. First, JIATF-South is a dynamic and
evolutionary organization, one continuously adapting itself to evolving
target sets. Second, the National and international unity of effort
found within our command spans geographical and functional boundaries,
bringing with it operational efficiencies and critical capabilities.
I close by once again thanking the Congress for its steadfast
support of our men and women in uniform, who work every day to keep our
Nation safe and I look forward to our continued collaboration to
counter transnational organized crime and the illicit traffic that
Mrs. Miller. Thank you very much.
I certainly thank all the witnesses for your excellent
testimony. Not quite sure where to start with all that. Tried
to take some notes while you were all talking.
One thing I would say to Admiral Lee, when you mentioned
about the Shiprider, which is a thing I am--an issue I am very
familiar with along the Northern Border in particular, and the
Coast Guard has been fantastic on taking such a leading role
and getting such a fabulous partnership that we have with our
Canadian counterparts--I sort of thought a pilot of that,
almost, was when Detroit hosted the Super Bowl back in--I
should know this; I should ask Hansen Clarke, from Detroit--
when was it, 2006 or 2008? 2006? Okay.
But at any rate, that was sort of a pilot program, I think,
because of the Detroit River there between the Canadians and
our U.S. Coast Guard, and that has worked out extraordinarily
well, and now, of course, has expanded throughout the entire
northern tier. So it really is a fantastic thing.
Actually, we just reauthorized that in our SMART Port bill,
which was marked up by this committee recently and hopefully
will have some floor time shortly, at least before the August
recess. I think the Canadian Parliament, as well--I have talked
to a number of the M.P.s there, and the ambassador, et cetera--
they are hopeful that they will be authorizing it this year
some time. So that, as I say, Shiprider is a great, great
I want to talk a little bit about the pangas, though. You
all mentioned them. In fact, I was just taking some notes when
you were talking--I thought I knew more than I did. Obviously
that is why we are having this hearing. Ten-ton payload is
quite something, really, the ability to have that and to travel
6,800 nautical miles. They can build them for less than $1
million. I mean, essentially they are just building these
things and will scuttle them, right? They are not really of
value to them once they deliver their payload of whatever they
do have in there.
You talked about interdicting them and that. How is the
Coast Guard actually able to detect them readily, and is--are
there technologies that would be helpful for the Congress to
prioritize some spending to that? Is it just technology? Is it
human intel that you are basically--you know, if we learned
anything from 9/11 it was a mistake that our country made of
not prioritizing intelligence spending previous to the war on
That is how we caught Saddam Hussein. With all the
technology we had it was really human intel that caught him. I
think there is no second for human intel. I would guess that
that is probably true with the pangas as well, and the tunnels.
But I am not sure who I am directing this to, but I would
like a little more information about what we could do to assist
your mission better in regards to gathering intelligence and
interdicting more of these pangas, which are travelling further
and further up the northern shore of California. It is sort of
like having a handful of jelly: You get one--you know, you get
this and it is coming out the next finger, right? It just keeps
sort of moving.
Who would like to take that?
Admiral Michel. I will take that, Chairman Miller, to start
First of all, just for a point of clarification, the types
of vessels that we are talking about, when I was talking about
10 metric ton-payloads, those were on semi-submersibles and
fully-submersible vessels. Those are special built either low-
profile vessels or true submarines, if you can imagine that,
and those can carry up to 10 metric tons.
There is another class of vessels, the pangas and go-fast
boats, which are like speed boats with outboard motors, some of
which are very large--and I think we heard Mr. Dinkins and Ms.
Bucella talk about the even larger ones off the coast of
California that they have seen in the past, so there are a
couple different styles of vessels.
The semi-submersible and fully-submersible vessels are
stealthy vessels. They try to avoid detection. They are not all
that fast but they try to avoid detection. The go-fast boats
and pangas are primarily out there because they are small and
very speedy, so that is the way that they try to evade
But both types of craft, because they are very small and
they operate in the maritime environment, require very
sophisticated intelligence techniques. The water spaces are
just too large.
My joint operating area, ma'am, is 12 times the size of the
United States, and you can imagine finding a submarine in an
area the size of the United States. So you have got to do it
At JIATF-South about 85 percent of our cases are cued from
human intelligence. These are law enforcement sources,
including all the DHS partners you have represented here. That
gives us the initial cuing.
Then once the vessel gets to sea we have to detect and
monitor that and we do that through a whole bunch of different
intelligence, and surveillance, and reconnaissance techniques,
again, involving all the Department--all the partners here at
the Department of Homeland Security. So it would be everything
you could imagine: Aircraft, such as the CBP P-3s or the Coast
Guard C-130s, or surface vessels, or any of the other
intelligence apparatus that the Nation can bring to bear. That
is the only way you are going to have a chance against these
very, very small vessels.
Mrs. Miller. Yes, Admiral.
Admiral Lee. It is a combination of all of the above. It is
both intel, it is sensor technology, and it is the resources
that we need to maintain our layered defense. Your combination
of all of those will help us to close on end-game.
Mrs. Miller. What is the sensor technology? I mean, is
radar utilized for the pangas? Are they able to be picked up by
Admiral Lee. There are various sources, but it is radar, it
is military patrol aircraft, it is being able to see what is
out there and maintain maritime domain awareness. We need the
bigger picture so that we can place our limited resources in
the right vector, the right spot, so that we can close on the
Mrs. Miller. If I could, I am just going to ask a question
about the tunnels, as well. My time is going here, but I have a
particular interest in that--the Ranking Member and I were just
sort of chatting while you were talking about that--where they
are actually being built. I mean, they are probably not being
built along the Rio Grande, or where you have got running sand
or the soil conditions, et cetera. So you principally are
seeing those along the--or the California border?
Also, what kind of technology can you even utilize to find
those kinds of things as they are being built? I don't know if
there is any kind of underground types--I don't know what the
term would be to be able to even be able to see anything like
that being built. Could you expand a little bit on the tunnels?
Mr. Dinkins. Sure, ma'am. First of all, most of the
sophisticated tunnels that we see and discover are in the San
Diego area and Southern California area, and those tunnels can
be as long as, you know--we discovered two in December. One was
a half a mile long. It literally had a rail system in it with
rail cart to shuttle stuff back and forth.
The good news is we are increasingly interdicting and
discovering the tunnels before they become operational, so as
time has gone on our ability to locate them is getting better
and better, and a lot of it comes from public awareness. Most
of our tunnels, and there is technology--worked with the
Department of Defense, we have worked with the private sector--
but these are--you know, it is--the--we are talking about very
narrow tunnels that go very deep and so trying to find an
anomaly--it is not like trying to find oil or water. It is very
difficult to find an anomaly. Also do it undetected, because if
you start--if you believe there is a tunnel there and you start
going over and start bringing in big equipment and testing it
you are most likely going to scare them away and we will never
bring them to justice.
There are a lot of challenges but at the end of the day one
of the most successful ways we have been able to do this is
just through intelligence, like you said--working with the
community, the same type of thing with the pangas. You know,
these are not vessels that are, you know, are natural to
Southern California and to--particularly to L.A. area, so
having people just call us when they have information on those
and suspect something is just not right as well as good old
Mrs. Miller. Do you have a--my last question--do you have
some sort of a public awareness campaign that you have
undertaken along the shores there of California, and et cetera,
about the tunnels and the pangas, if people--``If you see
something, say something'' kind of a thing, in particular with
Mr. Dinkins. We do. It started out with the San Diego
Tunnel Task Force doing just that--all the members going door-
to-door to businesses in a geographical area that would be
susceptible for tunneling. Because they usually have to come up
out of the ground and they want to do that in a warehouse. So
talking with the businesses to say if somebody suspicious has
come to lease property, and so forth.
But in addition, with the pangas--and it has actually been
pretty successful--is doing--and they just started this in the
L.A. area--is talking to the community, saying, ``These boats
right here, they are up to no good. If you see something,
call.'' We do get a lot of leads that way.
Mrs. Miller. Thank you.
The Chairwoman now recognizes the gentleman from Texas.
Mr. Cuellar. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
Admiral Lee, you might not know the answer to this but I am
still going to ask you this question: I guess about a year ago
or 2 years ago I added a provision that called on the Coast
Guard to look at the threats we had on the United States--well,
Texas-Mexico border, the Rio Grande, try and get the Coast
Guard to do a little bit more work on the navigable part of the
Rio Grande, since it is international water. You spoke about a
lot of stuff that you do at the Great Lakes and Canada or up
The report came in a little bit after there was a hearing
where two ex-generals came in and said that the borders--you
know, they got paid $80,000 to do a report. They never got to
see the border but they came out with the reports and there was
a war zone down there.
Your report came in a little bit after that, and basically
your report said--and I am talking about the Coast Guard--
basically said, what is happening across the river, threat is
very high; what is happening on the U.S. side--smuggling
drugs--very low threat. So basically went counter to what some
of the Members and other folks are saying. I am one of those, I
think it is more in the middle. I mean, I think it is, you
know, we have got to do a little bit more.
But I found it interesting that Coast Guard, based on the
intelligence and based on some of the work that you all did
with the other agencies, basically said, ``There is no need for
us to put any more assets down there because everything is
under control, basically, but if there is a problem you can
call us and we will go in and help.'' Again, you might not be
familiar with this report, but could you elaborate if you have
any information, whether it is hearsay on this, personal
knowledge on this report, on how that came up with that
Admiral Lee. Well yes, sir. I will attempt, although I
cannot address any discrepancies with--between the two reports.
I can tell you that I had a conversation last evening with the
chief of staff of the 8 Coast Guard district, and I talked to
him specifically about operations over in the Corpus Christi
vector, including the Rio Grande, and asked--``tell me''--I
told him I was testifying tomorrow--``Tell me what you guys are
doing over there, and tell me what you would want me to say to
He told me this: He says, ``Look, we are working very
closely with our partners and CBP and we are running routine
operations on a quarterly basis up in the two lakes, for
example. And we are also''----
Mr. Cuellar. I am sorry. Quarterly basis, just so everybody
understands, means once every 3 months.
Admiral Lee. I will have to get back with you on exactly
Mr. Cuellar. But roughly----
Admiral Lee. He used the term ``quarterly,'' yes, sir. That
would be Operation Javelina--and the Gulf side. The shore side
one would be Sea Serpent. He told me that in both of those
operations--for example, the one on the inland up in the lakes,
they partner up with the Mexican army and on--and offshore we
are partnering with the Mexican navy. He says these are on-
going and they intend to continue these types of operations. I
hope that answers your question, sir.
[The information follows:]
Quarterly Operations.--The U.S. Coast Guard conducts one pulse
operation each quarter for approximately 2 weeks on Falcon Lake and on
Lake Amistad, using Coast Guard personnel from Maritime Safety and
Security Teams (MSSTs). MSSTs are a versatile, highly-trained component
of the Coast Guard's Deployable Specialized Forces (DSF). Most
recently, in February 2012, MSST 91104 Galveston and MSST 91106 New
York participated in operations on the Lakes. The Coast Guard restricts
its operations to the navigable areas of Falcon Lake and Lake Amistad.
Quarterly operations by the Coast Guard augment efforts of DHS
partners, particularly Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and their
approximately 9,056 border personnel, 66 facilities, 43 aircraft, 61
vessels, and 27 checkpoints along the CBP main Sectors of Del Rio,
Laredo, RGV, and Houston.
Annual SW Border Lake/Offshore Operations.--Each year Customs and
Border Protection's South Texas Campaign (STC) runs an annual operation
along the SW Border Lakes called OPERATION JAVELINA THUNDER. The Coast
Guard participated last year, but decided to add a robust ``coastal and
offshore'' maritime component this year called OPERATION SEA SERPENT.
Both operations are integrated, bi-national operations intended to
create an environment that deprives Transnational Criminal
Organizations (TCO) the ability to exploit the border along the Rio
Grande and South Texas maritime domain. This year OPERATION JAVELINA
THUNDER will run from July 11 to August 10. OPERATION SEA SERPENT will
run from July 11 to August 24. Coordination between the two operations
is managed by the Corpus Christi Regional Coordinating Mechanism (CC
The objectives of OPERATION JAVELINA THUNDER and OPERATION SEA
SERPENT are to:
1. Disrupt and degrade TCO activities across the South Texas
Corridor, to include the Gulf Coast Littorals, utilizing a
2. Synchronize operations between the South Texas Campaign, USCG
Corpus Christi and STC communities of interest.
3. Leverage and integrate DoD capabilities to counter TCO
4. Increase maritime detections and interdiction (Sea Serpent).
5. Increase collaboration with Mexico's Secretaria de Marina
Agencies participating in the operations:
United States Law Enforcement Agencies
South Texas Campaign (STC)
Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Rio Grande Valley Sector
Del Rio Sector
Laredo Field Office
Office of Air and Marine
U.S. Coast Guard, Sector Corpus Christi
Coast Guard Investigative Service
Coast Guard Maritime Intelligence Fusion Center Atlantic
U.S. Coast Guard, Air Station Houston
U.S. Coast Guard, Atlantic Area
Medium Endurance Cutter
U.S. Coast Guard, Deployable Operations Group
Maritime Safety and Security Teams
Corpus Christi Regional Coordinating Mechanism (CC ReCoM)
Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC)
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Predators (Maritime
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
National Park Service--Padre Island National Seashore
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
Office of Investigation and Intelligence Liaison (OIIL)
State and Local Agencies
Border Security Operations Center (BSOC)
Department of Public Safety (DPS)
Texas Parks and Wildlife
Local Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs)
U.S. Department of Defense
Joint Task Force-North (JTF-N)
USMC 2D GSP (Ground Sensors)
BIG Miguel 12 (Aviation FLIR)
Civil Air Patrol (CAP) TXWG (Aviation Recon)
339th AVN (Aviation FLIR)
1 Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) (Aviation FLIR)
Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF)-South Coordination
National Guard (NG) TX Counter Drug--Task Force
NG TX Aviation Element (FLIR)
Special Operations DET TX NG (RECON/NG SOD)
NG SWB-TX AVN Support (FLIR)
Partner Nation and National Agencies
Secretaria de Marina (SEMAR)
National Security Agency (NSA-TX) (Medina Station, San
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
As part of OPERATION SEA SERPENT, the Coast Guard will send MSST
91114 Miami to Falcon Lake from July 18 to August 12 and MSST 91104
Galveston to Lake Amistad from July 19 to August 18. The next
deployment to Falcon Lake and Lake Amistad will be in the first quarter
of fiscal year 2013, as the Deployable Operations Group schedule
Mr. Cuellar. Well, I do understand--Corpus is way down
there in the south. You have got to understand the geographic
area. My friend here, Michael McCaul and I, we one time went
with the Civil Air Patrol. We got in a low-flying plane and we
went down the river. I mean, a very low speed, very low--and
you have got to understand--let's say we started off in Laredo
going down to Brownsville. That is a long way to go down there.
Once a quarter I assume means every 3 months, which means
that if you do a pulse every three quarters--I mean, a lot of
things can happen between the first month and then the fourth
month in between.
The other thing is--and I do understand that CBP--in fact,
we got in those airboats, McCaul and I, at Laredo, and we went
up and down the river, and I know some of it is not navigable.
I understand all that. But a lot of it is navigable, and if you
go into the controversy that came up in the Lake Falcon, and
then you have Lake Amistad also, there is a lot of space. So if
you do that once a quarter--I do understand once a quarter
means every 3 months--a lot of things can happen in between 3
months. That is why I was asking for an explanation or the
clarification what a quarter means, which I think we all know
it is at least every 3 months.
I am just saying, as if--maybe if you want to get back to
us later, because I find it interesting that you all pretty
much said, based on your intelligence, smuggling, drug
trafficking, everything was very low. The threat was very low.
So I just find it interesting that a lot of us--and I am sure
Members here would say, well, we have got to do more. Some
advocate for fences; some advocate for more UAVs; some advocate
for more Border Patrol and all of that. I understand. But I
just find it interesting that they came out--the Coast Guard
came out with that report. You might not be privy to that; it
might have been before your time.
The other thing is--this goes to Ms. Bucella--does your
current intelligence suggest that contraband smuggling will
increase along the rail supply chain? If so, how will the
mitigated funds be invested in securing this important part of
global supply chain?
I understand U.P. made an agreement for $50 million so you
all are distributing that to certain parts. I assume you are
working with Kansas City also on that, also. Then what efforts
are you all using for using State and local law enforcement to
help you? Because the first this is folks have said, well we
don't have enough personnel. But if you talk to local law
enforcement or State law enforcement I think a lot of them are
ready to help you on that. So if you can talk about that.
Again, Mr. McCaul and I, when we were on those airboats we
got to see one of those rail things, and a lot of things could
happen in there, and so if you can just mention--my time is up,
but if you can just reply to those.
Ms. Bucella. Sure. Mr. Cuellar, I think you know CBP does
not work in a vacuum. I mean, our partners--DPS, Texas Rangers,
all the State and locals--I mean, we all have to work together
as a team. So yes, we do work very closely with our partners,
and actually we are embedded in the Texas fusion center, DPS is
going to send somebody to work with us, because really, the men
and women on the ground every day in their neighborhoods
probably are one of the best assets in the world for the human
On the rail, as you know, last year we started a rail
fusion center, which is housed in El Paso. But that is a
combination of not only the private sector U.P., as well as the
State and locals, as well as CBP, as well as ICE, in trying to
figure out the detection of how much of the narcotics are
traveling to and from the United States in the rail cars.
Whether or not we are seeing an increase I cannot say that.
Are we now addressing it? Yes, we are. But as to any other
particulars I would be happy to answer your questions if you
would like to submit them to me and I can get those to you.
Mr. Cuellar. Right.
Ms. Bucella. Okay?
Mr. Cuellar. All right. Thank you.
Again, to all of y'all, thank you very much for being here
Mrs. Miller. The Chairwoman now recognizes the gentleman
from Alabama, Mr. Rogers.
Mr. Rogers. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
I want to follow up on Mr. Cuellar's questioning on State
and local government involvement. Can you give me some idea
about the structure of how you bring them in? Do you bring them
in at the planning, or you just call on them or use their
information when they call you?
We will start with you, Ms. Bucella.
Ms. Bucella. Well, frankly, on the--in the State of Texas
the Texas Rangers bring us in. I mean, we are embedded with
many of their operations, and from the intelligence side of the
house we try to give them some support not only tactically but
strategically. So it is more of them bringing us in, because as
CBP we are an interdiction agency, not necessarily an
investigative agency, so we are constantly working with all of
This is not a, you know, who is in charge. This is more of,
we have got a problem and how can we best resolve the issue.
With that, I mean, Mr. Dinkins can probably speak to this
too, but ICE has been involved in HSI in many of the take-downs
with the State and locals. Because again, there is plenty of
work to go around for everybody.
Mr. Dinkins. Sir, for example, we do about 90,000 new
investigations at HSI each year and 60 percent of those cases
are in partnership with State and local law enforcement and our
Federal partners. So most of the leads that we get, and
actually the bread and butter of what we do, are leads from our
fellow law enforcement partners.
At ICE we actually have the ability to cross-designate
them, which adds a lot of value to giving them actually even
border search authority, and not only on the BEST task force
that we have but also just in--from child exploitation task
forces to IP theft tax forces. We use them in basically every
area from human trafficking that we investigate, including
Mr. Rogers. All right. Thank you.
There has been an evolving tactic of very sophisticated
forged documents--identification documents, the newest
electronic digital security systems. From what I understand,
some of the forgeries have replicated holograms, PVC plastic
identical to that in a credit card, inks appearing only under
ultraviolet stamp lights. Do you agree? Are you seeing these
kind of sophisticated forged identification documents? Is that
an exaggeration as to how good they are?
Mr. Dinkins. No, we have. As technology has gone down in
price of--and so criminal organizations can buy some of the
best technology out there--even unsophisticated criminal
organizations. It lends to a higher quality of counterfeiting.
Mr. Rogers. Are you seeing much of this come out of China,
or do you know where it is coming----
Mr. Dinkins. We see some of it come out of China, but now--
today you don't necessarily have to be based overseas even to
produce a lot of our counterfeit documents that we see. A lot
of them are produced right here in the United States. We have
document and benefit fraud task forces in all of our special
agent in charge offices that----
Mr. Rogers. So where do you get those leads, primarily?
Mr. Dinkins. A lot of those things come from our local law
enforcement who get complaints about them being used at a
particular place. But also, we try to go after the vendor,
because the individual buying the--may be just buying for work
or they may be buying it for some other--something other, more
serious. But ultimately we try to go after the vendors and the
manufacturers. They are manufactured overseas in some cases,
but actually, in the United States they are manufactured, as
Mr. Rogers. I have the privilege of also serving on the
Armed Services Committee, and one of my frustrations has been
there has not seemed to be, from my perspective, an effort by
CBP to incorporate technologies that we have been using in
theater in Iraq and Afghanistan along the border. For example,
the DOD has used aerostats a lot more than we have.
But I am interested--is there an effort by CBP to try to
incorporate and network with the DOD to take the technologies
that have proven to be effective there for use on the border?
Ms. Bucella. Yes. As a matter of fact, I just met with OSC
yesterday. I have a very good relationship with DOD and we have
been using a lot of their technologies because obviously we can
evaluate them in a noncombat zone, and as a result there are
some of our technologies that we have been able to evaluate
that actually DOD has actually employed overseas. So I am not
quite sure what----
Mr. Rogers. Well, I am curious, why don't you use more
aerostats and blimps----
Ms. Bucella. The----
Mr. Rogers [continuing]. Which can loiter for long periods
of time and see deep into Mexico?
Ms. Bucella. I know that there has been some of the
aerostat technology that has been available. The problem or
challenge for us is the funding part of how you make----
Mr. Rogers. That is our problem. You just need to tell us
what you need; it is our problem to figure out if we can pay
for it or not.
Thank you very much. I will yield back.
Mrs. Miller. Thank the gentleman.
The Chairwoman now recognizes the gentleman from Detroit,
Mr. Clarke. Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. It is
an honor to be referred to as the gentleman from Detroit. Thank
you. No, I prefer Detroit. It is wonderful.
In our efforts to help stop terrorism, smuggling,
trafficking--this is a question to any of you here--how can we
better partner with private industry to further develop those
technologies that we need to protect our people but also could
help create jobs, especially along the Northern Border?
Admiral Lee. I am going to take a stab at it. That is a
tough question, sir. How can we better partner? I can tell you
with certainty that industry is constantly coming to us wanting
to sell us new technology and we are constantly evaluating it.
We look across the spectrum with our interagency counterparts
and we try to evaluate those technologies to the best of our
ability and, where possible, purchase them and apply them to
our mission efforts.
But insofar as how to create more jobs on the Northern
Border, that is outside of my ability to answer, sir.
Mr. Clarke. You know, my concern about jobs, though, that
would just be a byproduct of our partnership with private
industry, many times who--they have the innovation to actually
develop those technologies to help better monitor the borders
and better coordinate responses. Just from your perspective,
though, where do you see the opportunity of working with--or
continuing to work with--private industry on developing or
maintaining those technologies?
Admiral Michel. I can jump here from my world of work, and
this kind of goes back to Chairman Miller's question about
detecting and monitoring small craft. We regularly work with
industry to test their products down-range against our
We have a National Battle Lab at Joint Interagency Task
Force-South where we encourage vendors as well as academia to
come down and try their detection and monitoring technology and
we will run it against a real target set--against the bad guys
who are running these semi-submersibles, or these panga boats,
or fishing vessels with hidden compartments, all that type of
stuff. We have tried all different types of technologies--
everything that you can imagine--down at Joint Interagency Task
Force-South, and we don't have to simulate an adversary.
If you want to come down and you say your technology does--
you know, is able to detect a panga boat 50 miles offshore when
it is moving at 40 knots, we encourage you to come down to
JIATF-South and we will tell you whether your technology will
work in the real world. We have had a number of successes
across all different types of intelligence capabilities,
particularly in detection and monitoring of those small vessels
we talked about as well as aircraft that we have run through
the mill in a noncombat-type format. A number of those have
been employed overseas by the military services as well as by
We have an open door for anybody who wants to come down and
try to work against our targets that will tell you whether your
technology works or not. If it does and it is able to prove
itself in that type of an environment that is a real
endorsement for the--that type of technology.
Mr. Dinkins. Sir, and I can mention one area as far as
partnership, and we do--and a good example of that is with the
financial sector. So you have all these businesses, financial
institutions who, they basically operate the systems that
criminal organizations are trying to exploit, so we meet
regularly through a program where we have trained, I think,
over 50,000 members of the financial community on what type
of--typologies we are seeing that criminal organizations have
tried to move their money. How will they try to beat the
financial institutions' checks and balances to get it in
their--anti-money laundering programs? How will they try to
beat their system to try to get their illicit proceeds into the
financial institution? Because once it is in the financial
institution it can be sent around the world.
So we meet regularly with--this is, for example, really
good success in human trafficking and human smuggling. So this
is what we are seeing from our criminal investigations. This is
what we are--you know, from--when you arrest 30,000 people and
you are asking them, ``Well, how were you going to launder your
money?'' you can get some very good intelligence. We share that
with the financial institutions. They actually can re-change
the algorithms that they are doing, just like we do when we are
trying to screen people coming into the United States. They can
change the metrics on what they are looking for to create red
flags for suspicious activity that, had they not known that it
was suspicious and that is the new trend they wouldn't have
been able to detect. We have had very good success and that is
just one example in the financial institutions where we have
had good success.
Ms. Bucella. We at CBP have had great success not only with
the Office of the Secretary of Defense in trying out different
platforms and technologies dealing with technology, but also
the sharing of information with the express consignment
carriers. You know, we partner with them. Just private
industry's business model, you know, they do risk-based. It is
based on economics. For us it is based on threat. Sitting
around the table as we do on a pretty routine basis of getting
together we are able to share sort of what works for us and
what doesn't work.
In some instances, for example, private industry sees
anomalies on some things. Might not be a threat but it might be
enough that we all have to incorporate and change the way we
are doing business. For us it is enforcement and for private
industry it is how they progress to the next level.
Really, we are not working independently. Also, with DHS,
through the Office of Science and Technology, they are
constantly bringing new technologies for us to at least
explore, talk about, and figure out what kind of interest we
need and what the threat is.
Mr. Clarke. Thank you.
I yield back my time.
Mrs. Miller. Thank the gentleman.
The Chairwoman now recognizes the gentleman from South
Carolina, Mr. Duncan.
Mr. Duncan. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
Like to, panel, delve into a little bit about the, I guess,
connection between terrorist organizations and what we see
going on on the border with the aspect of tunneling, and I want
to point out that the posture statement of General Douglas M.
Fraser, United States Air Force commander, Southern Command, in
6 March he says that we do see evidence of international
terrorist groups benefiting from the intertwined systems of
illicit trafficking and money laundering in our area of
operations; in South America funding Hezbollah is raised
through licit avenues, such as charitable donations, and
illicit means, including trafficking in drugs, counterfeit,
pirated goods, et cetera.
But then Rear Admiral Michel says that while this potential
exists today Joint Interagency Task Force-South and U.S.
Southern Command have not seen any indication of terrorist
organizations or their affiliates using illicit trafficking
networks to reach the United States to commit acts of
terrorism. So there is a little bit of contradiction there, I
believe, in those statements.
But we have seen an increase in tunneling. We have seen, in
the last 10 years, I think--well, a little longer than that--
155 new tunnels; in the last 4 years, 75-plus new tunnels, more
sophistication with the rail, and lighting, ventilation.
So first off, I want to ask the rear admiral to address the
contradiction and then I would like to delve into the tunnels
Admiral Michel. Yes, sir. Well, first of all, General
Fraser is my boss so whatever General Fraser says is, by
Mr. Duncan. Good answer.
Admiral Michel. But nonetheless--and I have to go on my
statement to what you are referring to, but I think General
Fraser is raising the point that there are definitely
connections between the drug trade and terrorist organizations.
I think there have been identified somewhere around 19
different terrorist organizations that fund at least part of
their operations from drug trade. The FARC is an example of
that in Columbia, which is a terrorist organization that gets a
lot of its proceeds from drug trafficking.
I will have to go back and look at my statement, but I
think I was making reference to those types of conveyances--the
semi-submersibles and fully-submersibles. We do not have any
evidence and there have not been any intelligence indications
of use of those craft for anything other than drug trafficking
purposes. That becomes particularly important because the rules
of engagement set for stopping a semi- or a fully-submersible
therefore default to law enforcement rules. So you have got to
use non-deadly force to stop a submarine. I mean, you can only
imagine the challenges associated with that.
So I think what I had made reference in there was the use
of these particular conveyances by terrorists or for terrorist
purposes, and we have not seen any indications----
Mr. Duncan. I wasn't trying to trap you on that or--I just
wanted to see, for my understanding, what the difference was.
Because I do believe that there is--and I think June of last
year indicates that there is a connection between the terrorist
organizations, Hezbollah, Quds Force and the Mexican drug
trafficking organizations, with the example of the Saudi
ambassador assassination attempt. It wasn't lost on a lot of us
that have followed this issue--and I am a freshman Congressman,
but we have delved into this a number of times--wasn't lost on
a lot of us that Hezbollah or the Quds Force contacted what
they thought was a Mexican drug cartel operative to try to get
into this country and bring God-knows-what to assassinate the
Saudi ambassador. So that didn't surprise a lot of us.
I am going to ask Ms. Bucella, how has--or has the CBP
noticed any similarities between the border tunnels on the
Southwest Border and the tunnels used by the groups like
Hezbollah in the Middle East?
Ms. Bucella. Well, there is a huge difference in Arizona
and Nogales area, based on the underground sewer system, those
are very rudimentary--you could just basically--in many parking
lots in Nogales you will see holes that have been filled back
in again. Those are not the sophisticated tunnels.
Plus, the tunnels that are being--or the one tunnel that we
have seen in San Diego where they are using horizontal
directional drilling. That is very, very sophisticated. They
have to bring engineers to do those.
Mr. Duncan. Similar to what you would see in Southern
Ms. Bucella. I think Southern Lebanon would be a lot more
Mr. Duncan. Really? Okay.
Ms. Bucella. Mr. Dinkins, with the Tunnel Task Force, they
have been monitoring sort of the sophistication of the tunnel.
But I do believe from some of the detection and some of the
ability that we have been able to use technology from DOD, some
of the rudimentary is very similar.
Mr. Duncan. In my limited amount of time talk about
techniques that we are using to try to spot these tunnels--
radar, forward-looking, anything like that.
Mr. Dinkins. There is ground-penetrating radar, I guess it
is called. I am not an expert on the technology side. But there
are some techniques--vehicle-deployed as well as many other DOD
techniques, which they have developed long, truly tested, you
know, in Afghanistan and that region.
So we are trying some of those. We are trying to use some
of those. It ultimately comes down, our great success has been
when we find out or hear about a tunnel is usually from a tip,
from a source, and we are able to then, you know, develop an
investigation, get in the organization, do wiretaps, and so
forth, to actually find out about it. That has been our
The technology has played a role. You know, we use robotics
once we actually are able to find the tunnel to go in and clear
it, to make sure it is safe--because many of them are not safe.
The one in San Diego that had 30 tons of marijuana, they were
doing a very good job leading up to the point where they were
going to come up out of the ground in the warehouse, and at
that time their greed took over and then they just made a--you
know, they dug the last 20 feet as fast as they could. I was
down there 2 days later and it was already starting to cave in.
So it can be very dangerous, as well, for us to search them, so
we use robotics in that sense.
We have continued to go from oil industry, to the private
sector, to working with Israel, who has a lot of experience in
Gaza with tunnels, looking for that, you know, technological
solution, but we haven't found that yet.
Mr. Duncan. Thank you all for what you do to keep our
country safe. You have quite a challenge in your mission and I
wish you the best of luck.
I yield back.
Mrs. Miller. Thank the gentleman.
The Chairwoman now recognizes the gentlelady from Texas,
Ms. Jackson Lee.
Ms. Jackson Lee. I thank the Chairwoman and the Ranking
Member and the witnesses that come forward. I am going to have
some--if you get your little notepad as I get mine, because I
am going to ask a series of questions if I--appreciate it if
you could answer them. I am going to ask a general question
about the whole issue of individuals crossing the border and
looking at the 2011-2012, or looking at--we are now 2012 to
reflect on whether we have seen--what kind of crossings that we
have seen. Have we seen a decrease?
Let's separate drug cartels and violence from individuals
who are known to cross the border for work reasons, or we know
that just recently individuals report in Arizona a 6-year-old
was determined to be on--be in the vehicle and no one admitted
to being the parent of that 6-year-old. So we know that we do
have these incidents.
Try to not say that it is not your area. You are all
getting information so I would imagine that you would have it.
Just quickly, Ms. Bucella, what has been the intelligence
in terms of the crossings by the population that we are used to
outside of terrorist-driven or violence-driven through drugs
and otherwise? You have intelligence on that?
Ms. Bucella. We have been able to detect people not only
just coming across the border but sharing information with our
Mexican counterparts and stopping people from coming across the
Ms. Jackson Lee. But have you seen a decrease or increase
over the last 2 years, 3 years?
Ms. Bucella. In Arizona we have seen a decrease.
Ms. Jackson Lee. I am just going to go quickly. Thank you.
Mr. Dinkins. I believe that we are----
Ms. Jackson Lee. I will get more pointed questions. I just
want to quickly go through. Let me make sure that I am----
Okay. Is that Admiral Lee?
Admiral Lee. Yes, ma'am. In the maritime domain I can tell
you that since 2009--that was a banner year for migrants for
us--we have seen a general decrease. However, for 2012 our
projections are slightly up.
In 2009, overall--this includes the migrants from Mexico,
Dominican Republic, Cubans, and Haitians, we saw a--we had
numbers at 6,684----
Ms. Jackson Lee. What year is that?
Admiral Lee. That was in 2009.
Ms. Jackson Lee. All right.
Admiral Lee. Projected for fiscal year 2012--2012--we are
looking at 2,360, according to our intelligence.
Ms. Jackson Lee. An increase of 2,360? Because you said
6,684, so that is going down.
Admiral Lee. To correct the record, ma'am, in--what I meant
to say was in 2009----
Ms. Jackson Lee. Yes.
Admiral Lee [continuing]. The over 6,684----
Ms. Jackson Lee. Right.
Admiral Lee. We project the number to be 2,360 in 2012, so
that is a lot less than 2009.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Okay.
Admiral Lee. But it is up from last year by about 150.
Ms. Jackson Lee. All right.
Admiral Michel. Ma'am, it is really not appropriate for me
to comment on that because my joint operating area is actually
to the south of the Southwest Border, so I deal with products
as they move toward the Southwest Border.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Thank you.
Thank you very much for that. I think that is a very
provocative assessment and statement because I am going to
collectively say I think we have been focused, and when I ask
you this next question you might just add into your answer, do
you think there have been heightened collaboration among the
agencies on this question of individuals transporting
themselves over the border? In the instance I tried to separate
you from our enhanced work that we need, which is bad actors,
either through drug trafficking, or human trafficking, or
either through potential terrorist acts. So I wanted to
separate that out.
So I am going to go right, Mr. Dinkins, to this question:
What are the trends you are seeing in human trafficking, which
we all abhor? For example, are there more cases involving
trafficking for sexual purposes, or for forced labor? Are you
seeing an increase in children being trafficked?
I am going to have a follow-up question, so I see my time--
let me just give the follow-up question. The U.S. Department of
Justice has indicated that the I-10 Corridor in Houston, going
up through Louisiana, was identified as one of the main routes
for human traffickers in the United States, and as of 2010 all
human trafficking victims certified in the United States, 25
percent of them were in Texas. We have a focus on that area. So
I am very interested in where we are in that, if you would,
please? And comment on the I-10 Corridor.
Mr. Dinkins. Yes, ma'am. I will work backwards. Texas is
probably--our special agent in charge offices from Dallas and
Houston to San Antonio are probably the lead for HSI and ICE's
investigative efforts in human trafficking, and it may be as a
result of exactly what you are saying, it is because of the
volume that is going through that area, although I do not--I
have not actually seen that report.
I will say that the--what we have seen is--it is hard to
predict this, and I will explain why. It is because we have
given it so much more emphasis now in the last 2 years, really
working and focusing on human trafficking. So we are seeing it
a lot more; I just don't know if it existed before we were--we
gave it such a concerted effort.
It does involve, usually, purposes for sexual exploitation,
and in many cases we have seen where the internet is getting to
be involved in it, where as you go advertise overseas, for
example, for somebody to come here and be a nanny and when they
get here they actually find out that they are going to end up
being trafficked into sexual servitude.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Madam Chairwoman, if I could just indulge,
I am trying to--the I--so are you familiar with the I-10, or
you are saying that it is a serious problem and you are focused
on it, but it is on-going. Is that my understanding?
Mr. Dinkins. Yes. I don't know about I-10 specific, but I
can tell you----
Ms. Jackson Lee [continuing]. DOJ report.
Mr. Dinkins. Yes. But coincidentally, our special agent in
charge offices in Texas are usually some of the leaders in
bringing the cases to--trafficking cases to justice. We saw
that around the Super Bowl when it was in Dallas--large number
of--of human trafficking arrests. So it definitely is an area
that we are focusing on, I just, I can't specifically comment
about the I-10.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Okay. Do you have the resources you need?
Mr. Dinkins. That is a good question. I can tell you that
we probably have more resources--probably we have more
resources dedicated to human trafficking than ever before, and
we recently received additional funding, which, instead of
getting agents, what we did increased the number of agents we
had, we actually also increased the number of victim witness
coordinators and child forensic interviewers because when you
do find a traffic victim you do not want an agent with a gun
interviewing them; you want somebody that is a professional who
cares about their needs first and not the case, and we have
hired, I think, I believe another 18 of those around the
Ms. Jackson Lee. I thank the Chairwoman for her indulgence.
I yield back.
Mrs. Miller. Thank the gentlelady.
The Chairwoman now recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr.
Mr. McCaul. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
Let me just first give praise where it is due.
Ms. Bucella, the coordination, I think, between your
agency, our Texas Rangers, and Department of Public Safety has
never been better. It is a great, you know, Federal, State, and
local effort down there, and the border sheriffs, as well.
So getting to the issue of the DOD assets--and Congressman
Cuellar and I have been focused on this for probably about 2
years now, in terms of coordinating the assets that we have
overseas to use on the Southwest Border, and northern, as well.
Can you tell me what assets are available that you would want
Ms. Bucella. First, the technologies, because they really
are sophisticated and DOD could afford those things, so if
there is anything that we could use for that. One of the things
that--one of the greatest assets that we are getting are the
people. As we are doing the drawdown, men and women, I have
hired seven full-motion video analysts. So it is a unique skill
set, and obviously for those that were been in the combat zone
that has been terrific.
We have also been able to purchase some of the assets that
are being retired, as the helicopters, from the Marine Corps,
with parts so that we can--are able to use them.
But as the drawdown comes we are in active discussions with
DOD just to make sure that we can use some of their assets that
they have retired. But again, more importantly, the men and
women coming back, unbelievable skill set in analytics,
unbelievable drive for mission. They understand what is going
Mr. McCaul. That is good. I mean, when we were--Congressman
Duncan, and Cuellar, and I were over in Afghanistan and Iraq we
talked to the generals there and we specifically raised the
issue of: ``Would you be willing to provide these assets to
DHS?'' and they were very agreeable to doing that.
So any assistance or help we can give you in that effort, I
think that is very worthwhile. In a tough budgetary time these
are existing assets that we can leverage.
Ms. Bucella. That would be wonderful. The only thing we
would ask for consideration is also that the operation and
maintenance and parts also is considered, because while, you
know, they have some great air assets they cost a lot of money
Mr. McCaul. I want to throw out a scenario that I often
worry about, and I know that Congressman Duncan shares this
concern, and it goes back to Hezbollah operatives, the Iranian
connection to Venezuela, these flights that Interpol can't
check; we don't know what is on those flights. We have had
lawmakers from Bolivia tell us that they think uranium is on
The scenario of a weapons-grade uranium coming through one
of these tunnels or smuggled across between the ports of
entry--I think at the ports of entry we have the adequate
technology to detect that, but it is really between the ports
of entry where the human smuggling is taking place that it is
not secure. That brought into the United States with something
as simple as a stick of dynamite and you can create a dirty
bomb in a major city. Is that a realistic concern?
Mr. Dinkins. That is a very good question, sir, and I think
the--one of the things that we, I think collectively, have
realized in security business is that you can't just draw a
line in the sand and say that is where we are going to hold the
line. You have to address that threat before it actually gets
to the line.
I believe that has been our best success and what will be
our best success is in actually preventing that and
interdicting that before it actually gets to the desert or
tunnel and they will actually even be able to get into the
United States. There are many ways that you could get, you
know--I am not a uranium expert, but there are many ways that
you can make entry into the United States, but there is very
limited amount of availability of uranium, and targeting that
before it gets to the United States and dismantling those
networks overseas, that is going to be our greatest success in,
I think, believing--in preventing that from actually becoming a
Mr. McCaul. You know, not to invoke Hollywood, but the
movie ``Act of Valor,'' you know, with the Navy seals, ends--
culminates with that scenario, which some people felt was a
far-fetched scenario, and I am not really sure that it is. I am
concerned that that could actually happen in reality and not
just in the movies.
I have got 20 seconds, but, Admiral Lee, you are going to
join us, I think, on Thursday, with Governor Fortuno, at our
hearing on the Caribbean, and I guess with my short time left I
will just say I look forward to seeing you come back on
With that, I yield back.
Mrs. Miller. I thank the gentleman and I thank all the
I have one quick question before we close here. Admiral
Michel, you were mentioning about the rules of engagement with
the submersibles because--I am not sure exactly how you phrased
it, but because you don't think there is a terrorist threat or
we haven't had one so far with these submersibles you cannot
use military rules of engagement for them and it reverts back
to a local law enforcement-type of a apprehensive thing.
That is disturbing to me. It certainly handicaps your
ability to do, I think, what you need to do and what the
country would like you to do, I think--my personal opinion--and
I am just wondering whether or not you need additional
authorities for such a thing or if you would like to comment on
that. Perhaps you don't want to comment on that. It certainly
is up to the Congress to think about it. But if you have any
comment on that I would welcome that.
Admiral Michel. I will comment on that. It has been a
subject of vigorous--and remains a subject of vigorous
discussion within the administration on how to treat these
things. I mean, up until this point submarines--fully-
submersible submarines--diesel-electric submarines had only
belonged to nation states. This is a diesel electric submarine
that is run by a non-state actor, a transnational criminal
The current thinking within the administration and the
marching orders that I have got is absent intelligence
indicating otherwise that as long as we believe that these are
still being used simply to move, you know, multi-million dollar
loads of cocaine that they are a law enforcement problem, and
as a law enforcement problem we as a Nation have chosen to
treat those with law enforcement use-of-force rules, which is
typically non-deadly force rules. So you can imagine trying, in
a non-deadly force manner, to force one of these fully-
submersible submarines to the surface so you can arrest the
occupants there for cocaine smuggling.
So it is a challenge. I mean, you have hit the nail on the
head, ma'am. It is extremely difficult for me to come up with
any type of capability in a non-deadly force manner to force
one of these submarines to the surface to----
Mrs. Miller. I mean, I remember when the Coast Guard was
not able to shoot at the fast boats, right, and then we gave
you additional authority for those kinds of things. I mean, you
need to be able to do your job we have tasked you with and if
we handcuff you I don't think that is advantageous for the
Would it require that the drug cartels are listed on the
terrorist--as a terrorist organization? What if they were a
terrorist organization? Then what could you do?
Admiral Michel. Well, I hate to speculate because there
Mrs. Miller. Okay.
Admiral Michel [continuing]. A lot of discussion----
Mrs. Miller. I am thinking out loud here.
Admiral Michel [continuing]. Terrorist organizations, but
if they were designated that could potentially be a different
rule set. But obviously that all kind of hypothetical and would
have to be discussed because that is obviously a very, very
complicated subject matter.
Mrs. Miller. Well, it is something I intend to pursue so I
appreciate your comment on that.
But we certainly appreciate all of the witnesses and your
testimony today. It has been a very, very, extremely helpful
hearing. The record will be held open for 10 days.
With that, the subcommittee will adjourn.
[Whereupon, at 11:21 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]