Customs Officers Seize 'Significant' Amounts of Drugs, Fraudulent Documents, 'Inadmissible Aliens' at Arizona Ports of Entry

By Susan Jones | February 25, 2011 | 9:58 AM EST

( - How big is the smuggling/illegal immigration problem along the Arizona-Mexico border? The numbers tell part of the story.

In Fiscal Year 2010, Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officers working at Arizona ports of entry seized more than 123,000 pounds of narcotics, with an estimated bulk value of more than $161 million. That compares with 109,000 pounds of narcotics, valued at $148 million, that were seized in fiscal year 2009.

The FY 2010 drug seizures included:
-- 119,000 pounds of marijuana (up from 105,000 pounds in FY 2009);
-- 3,300 pounds of cocaine (about the same as last year);
-- 787 pounds of methamphetamines (up from 730 last year); and
-- 263 pounds of heroin (up from 190 pounds last year).

In fiscal 2010, CBP officers discovered 8,473 "inadmissible aliens" mixed in with legitimate travelers and seized 1,439 fake or fraudulent documents. (In fiscal year 2009, officers discovered 7,837 inadmissible aliens and seized 1,530 fake or fraudulent documents.)

CPB also seized $7.3 million in undeclared currency (up from $4.9 million last year) and arrested 447 people (up from 437 in FY 2009) on warrants for a variety of serious criminal charges.

Agriculture specialists at Arizona ports of entry intercepted 66,085 quarantined materials (including eggs, raw chicken, pork products, animal hides and trophies, prohibited agricultural items, and prohibited plants). They discovered 8,164 "significant pests" that threaten American agriculture.

CPB says its officers screened more than 24 million travelers, down from the 27.9 million travelers screened in fiscal 2009. They also screened 6.8 million private vehicles, 12,986 buses, 8,902 commercial aircraft, and 4,332 private aircraft.

CBP also processed 375,397 commercial vehicles, 602 commercial trains (with 52,617 railcars), and processed more than close to $19 billion in imports, all at Arizona ports.

The numbers CBP released on Thursday do not reflect the drugs, contraband and illegal aliens that came into Arizona at places other than official ports of entry.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which falls under the Homeland Security Department, describes its mission as managing, controlling, and protecting our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.