U.S. Customs and Border Protection hosts media in NOLA

Logan Ridenour
Plaquemine Post South

The New Orleans sector of the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) holds jurisdiction over 362,310 square miles. That is the equivalent of 592 counties and parishes within Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and a portion of Florida.

Originally established in 1927, the New Orleans sector's initial purpose was to prevent alcohol smuggling and consequentially, undocumented aliens from entering the United States through the Mississippi River.

The New Orleans sector currently maintains responsibility of crewman control, criminal aliens, anti-smuggling, and transportation checks of commercial carriers, according to CBP's website.

These regular duties will differ between offices within Customs and Border Protection. The CBP encompasses Air and Marine Operations, Office of Field Operations, and the United States Border Patrol.

While the New Orleans sector is largely responsible for the surrounding area, in cases of humanitarian crisis they may be called to provide support.

In recent years, conflicts at the U.S. and Mexico border have affected the New Orleans sector operations.

"What happens on the southwest border effects almost every facet and every community in America," said Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino at the U.S. Border Patrol New Orleans sector.

Bovino says the concentration of manpower in one area along the border could provide opportunity for criminals and smugglers to travel into the United States undetected. In fact, as a result of a recent humanitarian crisis at the border, several violent criminals were detained within Louisiana.

"Out of every 500 seizures in this area of responsibility, 300 can be connected back to the border," said Bovino.

When Customs and Border Protection is talking about seizures, they're not just talking about narcotics. They're also referring to consumer products and pests.

Counterfeit seizures have resulted in millions of dollars worth of consumer products that violated either intellectual property laws or consumer safety.

Cargo that has the potential to carry identified pests into the United States is thoroughly examined in order to protect American agriculture. Some of the pests they keep an eye out for include Asian gypsy moths and khapra beetles.

These areas of responsibility within the CBP merely brush the surface on the day to day operations of the New Orleans sector.