“One if by Land, Two if by Sea” was the phrase coined by the American poet, Henry W. Longfellow in his poem, Paul Revere’s Ride*. This exclamation was a reference to the belfry lamp signals at the North Church Tower in Boston that signaled Revere about the route the British troops chose to advance to Concord. As most U.S. school-age children know, this threatening event happened on the verge of the American Revolutionary War.
Unfortunately, there’s no such signal given when illegal drugs, radioactive material, or homemade improvised chemical agents, are threatening our nation’s borders today.
Whether it’s by land, by sea, or by air, there are still threats to our borders today as our nation is fighting the war on drugs and terrorism. Instead of a man riding on horseback, today there are Customs and Border Protection (CBP) organizations who are serving as guardians of the nation’s borders. And to help in their mission, they are armed with the latest technology.
As the U.S. readies this week to celebrate the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation, here are some issues that border agents face today:
- Restricting contraband
- Ensuring narcotics, IED materials and precursors are identified and prevented from entering the country.
- Regulatory enforcement
- Ensuring that packages are labelled properly
- Identifying and confiscating counterfeit drugs
- Ensuring proper duty and tariffs are collected
- Safe and efficient operation
- Solutions that reduce the need to wait for expensive and time consuming lab results
- Ensuring employees are safe from exposure to illicit materials and substances
- Increasing trade
- Tools that allow for expedited, legal and fair trade.
And here’s some of the technology utilized by customs and border protection on the front line:
Radiation detectors and monitoring instruments – like survey meters, contamination monitors, integrated radiation monitoring systems, dosimeters, probes, and Geiger counters – help detect, locate, and identify radioactive nuclides such as nuclear weapons, dirty bombs, and orphaned or purposely masked sources.
Read how law enforcement has protected the borders surrounding a well-known parade.
Handheld analyzers help identify homemade, improvised chemical agents and threats using more sophisticated chemical identification instruments. These analyzers enable government agencies to quickly identify potential CBRNE hazards, help Customs and Border Protection officers identify shipments that may contain hazardous substances, and are approved for anti-terrorism use.
Read how border protection can identify unknown chemicals, explosives and explosive precursors in air cargo quickly: Now Arriving: Air Cargo. Is it a Threat?
Customs and Border Protection organizations need advanced tools to help guard against illegal and potentially harmful items, such as illegal narcotics and new synthetic drugs, from reaching beyond borders. Handheld narcotics analyzers can help detect and deter dangerous substances before they reach the public. Here are some real-life examples of protection from narcotics at the borders:
- Turkey officials are stemming the flow of narcotics in their country.
- Republic of China (Taiwan) Coast Guard Administration had reason to celebrate a significant victory with $30M in illegal narcotics seized.
- The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations has experienced a dramatic uptick in fentanyl seizures in recent years, from 440 in fiscal year 2016 to 1,196 the next year.
There will be no lights in the nearest belfry indicating that danger has reached the shores and borders, but at least we know our customs and border protection agencies are armed with the latest technology to protect the public when they do arrive.
*If you want a different account of Paul Revere’s ride, read The Real Story of Revere’s Ride addressing how Longfellow used some poetic license to tell the story.