After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) greatly increased its Customs Border Protection (CBP) Division to ward off potential terrorists. More than 10,000 additional agents were hired between 2001 and 2011. These agents are on the front lines of the war on terror and also help to protect U.S. citizens from drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and the importation of potential pests and pathogens into Tennessee.
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Border Entry Points in Tennessee
Tennessee is an important site for commerce and receives a large amount of people and freight that enter the state. There are five Border Entry Points in Tennessee that employ Customs and Border Patrol agents. They are in:
- Blountville (the Tri-Cities Regional Airport)
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents monitor the people and goods entering into Tennessee to protect public safety by intercepting those who would do harm.
U.S. Customs Interception of Drug Trafficking in Tennessee
The jobs of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents involve protecting the public against the ravages of drug smuggling. The I-40 corridor of Tennessee is notorious as a major route for the smuggling of drugs across the U.S. High potency marijuana is shipped up from Mexico and then distributed across the country.
A major trafficking operation in western Tennessee was recently disrupted with the arrest of a man from Jackson. In another case, 29 people involved in a multi-state drug trafficking ring were arrested for shipping hundreds of pounds of potent marijuana from Arizona, Nevada, and California to Nashville for distribution.
Immigration Violations in Tennessee
Foreign nationals are involved in many types of crimes in Tennessee, and it is the job of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents to detect those entering the state with illegal items or entering illegally. Once in the state, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Division of the DHS monitors criminal activity by immigrants in Tennessee.
In one high profile case, a Nashville firearms manufacturer and five individuals were found to be violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and shipping weapons overseas illegally. Other cases involve a gamut of illegal activities, ranging from involving children in pornography to selling fake Tennessee drivers’ licenses.
Agricultural Specialists in Tennessee
Another area in which all CPB officers are trained is to prevent the importation of fruits, vegetables, plants, and meat that might contain unwanted pests that would be detrimental to Tennessee’s rich agriculture. In some cases, the pests have been introduced into one area of the state, but there is a quarantine to keep them from spreading. This is the case for the walnut disease Thousand Cankers Disease that has been discovered in Jefferson County and has spread to a number of other counties. The state of Tennessee is attempting to keep this disease from spreading to other counties and disrupting the state’s walnut industry.