Customs and Border Patrol and partners keep border, World Cup athletes and spectators safe

13 years ago

To the editor:
    Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agents at the Fort Kent port of entry, Van Buren Border Patrol Station and Houlton Air Branch want to thank their partners on both sides of the border for their assistance with logistics and border security during the World Cup Biathlon which was held in Fort Kent on Feb. 10-13.
    The World Cup Biathlon was compared to the followership of the Super Bowl and was expected to have more than 120 million spectators viewing events from Europe. With also 300 athletes, coaches and support staff from 22 nations around the world, and thousands of spectators focusing their attention to the physical and mentally demanding endurance sport of marksmanship and cross-country ski racing, it was up to CBP and their partners to ensure the safety of the participants and the spectators and secure the border during this high profile event.
    Over the last couple of months, CBP worked with their local, state, federal and international partners with logistics and border security as they prepared for increased cross-border activity due to the events of the World Cup Biathlon and the International Lights Parade.
    Agents and officers maintained high visibility during the four-day operation, in an effort to deter illegal cross-border activity and prevent any potential acts of terrorism. To assist CBP with border security, law enforcement agencies in Canada conducted enhanced patrol and worked with U.S. agencies with timely intelligence which greatly enhanced the effectiveness of border security during this high profile event. Enhanced land and frozen water boundary line watch operations were conducted by agents from the Van Buren Border Patrol Station, Houlton Office Homeland Security Investigations (HSI/ICE), constables from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Integrated Border Enforcement Team Division (U.S. and Canada law enforcement agencies), CBP officers from Fort Kent, Madawaska and Van Buren ports of entries, as well as their Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) counterparts. Aerial support and surveillance was conducted by agents from the Houlton Air Branch.
    CBP officers in the Fort Kent area also worked with the World Cup committee and law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, implementing a vetting procedure for participants involved with the International parade. Pre-vetting included filling out an application form with a digital photo, and having a passport or WHTI compliant document. Once the pre-vetting process was completed, participants were given a float number and passes. This assisted the CBP Officer’s inspection process, allowing the participants to cross the international border seamlessly during the parade. On the day of the event, CBP officers were allowed to enter Canada to work with their Canadian partners to ensure each float met the height and width requirements to traverse the Port’s inspection processing equipment and participant had the necessary documentation for the parade.
    The International Lights Parade, which took place on Feb. 11, joined two countries for one spectacular event. With 72 floats and approximately 600 participants, the parade started in Clair, N.B,  with participants then walking across the International Bridge, spanning the St. John River, and through Fort Kent.
    To kick off the parade, Maine’s CBP Honor Guard Unit walked to the center of the bridge with Maine Governor Paul LePage and his wife, from the U.S. side, to the boundary line to meet with Canadian officials. Once at the boundary line, the CBP Honor Guard rendered salute to the Canadian flag, performing a pinwheel about face and took over the lead of the parade, leading participants into the United States. CBP Field Operations and Border Patrol each had a lead vehicle and an end of parade vehicle. Both Canada and the United States took turns with a fireworks display at the conclusion of the parade. Also in attendance was celebrity Scottie Pippen, former NBA player and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.
    Officers also increased manpower to assist with higher than normal cross-border traffic. CBP officers from Van Buren and Madawaska assisted with security and crowd control during the International Lights Parade at the port of entry and in town.
Shelbe Benson-Fuller
CBP public affairs specialist