Puerto Rico possesses six port of entries operated by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the Department of Homeland Security. Since 9/11, the ranks of Customs and Border Patrol agents have increased six-fold, and recruiting is currently taking place.
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Ports of Entry in Puerto Rico
Customs and Border Patrol agents find jobs at six different ports of entries in Puerto Rico. They are:
- Luis Munoz Marin International Airport
- San Juan
The jobs of these agents are critical in protecting the security of Puerto Rico and the U.S. states from the threat of terrorism, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and the introduction of unwanted insects, pathogens, and plants. The port of San Juan is the fifth busiest on the Eastern seaboard with over a million containers a year passing through this port.
Puerto Rico’s History of Terrorism
The first priority of the CBP is to thwart potential terrorists. San Juan has been designated as a high-threat, high-density target for terrorism by the U.S. government. There is a strong history of such operations directed from Puerto Rico taking place on the island and on U.S. mainland.
Since 1975, terrorist groups based in Puerto Rico are responsible for an estimated 260 violent acts in Puerto Rico and at least 70 attacks on the U.S. mainland. Many of these were carried out by the Puerto Rico independence group The Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN). The most notorious was the bombing of the historic New York City Fraunces Tavern in 1975. The group became infamous for its threat to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. They are no longer thought to pose a threat to the public.
The “Third Border” in Puerto Rico
As it has become more difficult to smuggle drugs into the U.S. from Mexico, the drug trade in Puerto Rico has become so rampant that the island has become a federal hub for interdiction and surveillance operations in the Caribbean. The smuggling of drugs into Puerto Rico poses a grave threat to national security, since once they reach the island, the contraband can be brought onto the U.S. mainland without further scrutiny. It is estimated that more than 70% of the cocaine that reaches the island is destined for the U.S. mainland. The jobs of Customs and Border Patrol agents involve monitoring the import of people and goods into Puerto Rico to intercept illicit drugs.
The drug trade in Puerto Rico contributes greatly to a climate of violence. The murder rate on the island exceeds even that of Mexico and is six times the national average. Much of the economy of Puerto Rico operates on a cash basis, and this is thought to contribute to the laundering of drug money on the island. CBP agents work with federal and local officials to try and pre-empt these rise in crimes facilitated by the importation of drugs across the Third Border.