The Customs Border Protection (CBP) agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are at the front lines of the fight against terrorism in Utah and other parts of the U.S. Since 9/11, security at the borders has been greatly amplified, including the screening of those who enter through airports such as the Border Port of Entry in the International Arrivals Building at the Salt Lake City airport. The CBP added 10,000 additional agents in the 10 years preceding 2011 and are constantly recruiting new agents.
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The Threat of Terrorism in Utah
Thwarting potential terrorists is the number one priority of those who work for the CBP.
Due to its location for the Winter Olympics in 2002, Utah has been ahead of much of the country in planning for potential terrorist actions in the state. Even before 9/11, a Salt Lake City Joint Terrorism Tack Force (JTTF) was formed.
The federal government has designated Salt Lake City to be high-threat and high-density in regards to its risk for a terrorist attack. One of the jobs of Customs and Border Patrol agents is to monitor those entering the U.S. through Salt Lake City and to make sure they are legally allowed to enter and are not carrying any contraband, such as weapons or drugs.
Customs and Border Patrol Agents’ Efforts to Stop Drug Trafficking in Utah
Utah’s central location in the South West and the number of interstate highways that pass through it has made the state a hot spot for drug trafficking. Customs and Border Patrol agents pay particular attention to those entering into the state and are guided by trained K-9 units.
A variety of criminal organizations are involved in the drug trade in Utah. Mexican drug cartels dominate much of the narcotics trade in the state, including the distribution of cocaine, high-potency marijuana, and methamphetamine. In 2012, seventeen members of the Belizean Bloods street gang located in Utah were arrested for trying to ship cocaine from Belize in the country.
Illegal Immigration and Drug Trafficking in Utah
In some cases, individuals who are in the country illegally are hired to grow marijuana in the state. In 2003, 8800 plants were seized that were being grown in Big Cottonwood Canyon by illegal immigrants working for a Mexican drug cartel.
Among states with the largest and fastest growing immigrant population, Utah is number seven. This is considered to place it at risk for increased criminal activities. The jobs of Customs and Border Patrol Agents involve vigilance in preventing illegal immigration by monitoring the credentials of those who would enter into Utah.
The Role of Agricultural Specialists in Utah
Some threats to the state of Utah are brought into the state accidentally on imported vegetables, fruits, plants, or meat products. All CBP agents receive training from Agricultural Specialists with the agency on how to spot potential pests being imported and to stop this from happening. Target pests for 2013 range from the Asian Gypsy Moth to a number of beetles, including the Cucurbit, European Spruce Bark, Japanese Pine Sawyer, Lesser Spruce Shoot, and Pine Shoot, Redhaired Pine Bark, Sixtoothed Bark, and Sixtoothed Spruce Bark Beetles.