As part of its campaign to secure the borders and protect U.S. citizens from potential terrorists, drug smugglers, and illegal immigration, the U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) Division of the Department of Homeland Security has been ramping up the number of CBP agents. Since 9/11, they have increased the ranks of Customs and Border Patrol agents by over six fold and are currently recruiting new members.
The official point of entry in Wyoming for those entering from other countries is the Natrona County Airport that is twelve miles west of Casper. This border point is part of the Portland Field Operations Office of the CBP. It is part of the Havre Sector, and Border Patrol agent jobs in Wyoming involve helping to patrol the 452 miles of the border that is between Montana and Canada.
The Threat of Terrorism in Wyoming
Thwarting potential terrorist acts is the primary goal of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents. Although Wyoming has no cities designated as high-threat, high-density areas predicted to be at risk for terrorist acts, there is a history of attempted terrorism in the state. In 2005, authorities foiled a plot involving a U.S. citizen who tried to work with Al Qaida to blow up a natural gas refinery located at Opal in southwest Wyoming. This target was selected as being the largest refinery in the West. CBP agents are actively working to prevent other such attempts.
Border Patrol Drug Interdiction Efforts in Wyoming
The jobs of the Customs and Border Patrol agents in Wyoming also involve trying to intercept shipments of drugs into and out of the state. Although the state is primarily rural, the rate of deaths from drugs in Wyoming is higher than the national average. Large shipments of marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine are transported through Wyoming from the borders of the southwest and northwest.
In January of 2013, over $97,000 worth of marijuana was seized near Evanston. In addition to inspecting people coming through the official border point of entry in Natrona County, Border Patrol agents patrol sections of Wyoming by helicopter. In September 2012, such a patrol identified an area where marijuana was being cultivated. Local agents then seized 129 marijuana plants.
The Role of Agricultural Specialists in Wyoming
The CBP also employs a number of Agricultural Specialists to monitor the spread of pests, pathogens, and invasive weeds across borders. These specialists train all CBP agents to be on the lookout for problem species that can be spread by people unknowingly transporting them on fruits, vegetables, plant material, or meat products. Diseases considered of particular threat to the state of Wyoming include Dutch elm disease, Armillaria root disease, and white pine blister rust. Potential problem insects include the fall webworm, elm leaf beetle, banded elm bark beetle, and the smaller European elm bark beetle.