U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) led a multi-agency canine examination of ships and shipping containers at the Port of Baltimore Wednesday.
Dubbed Operation Port Days, the operation was billed as an opportunity to expose more local police narcotics detector dogs to the complexities of shipboard and shipping container examinations while searching for narcotics and other illicit contraband. Hotel-height container ships, pose unique challenges to canine examinations with tight spaces between container stacks and the myriad of ladders between decks.
Several canine alerts resulted in intrusive and non-intrusive examinations, though the team found no illicit contraband. By operation’s end, the multi-agency team inspected three ships and more than 80 trucks and shipping containers at both the seaport’s entry and departure gates.
The canine teams represented Kent, Caroline and Dorchester County Sheriff’s Offices and the Federalsburg and Easton Police Departments along the Eastern Shore.
The world is seeing a trend in larger merchant ships, and in particular ships carrying more than 10,000 containers. Transnational criminal organizations are taking advantage of that trend to transport huge loads of concealed cocaine and other dangerous drugs across the globe as evidenced by the many recent significant narcotics seizures in the United States and Europe.
“Customs and Border Protection knows that our local law enforcement partners’ canine capabilities can serve as an invaluable force multiplier to quickly and efficiently inspect the larger container ships arriving from high-risk ports in narcotics source nations,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director of Field Operations in Baltimore. “CBP and all of our law enforcement partners remain collectively committed to intercepting dangerous drug loads before it can harm our communities.”
In June, CBP officers in Philadelphia led a multi-agency team of narcotics detector dogs from local and state law enforcement agencies aboard the MSC Gayane, a massive container ship longer than three football fields and capable of stacking 10,000 shipping containers. That inspection discovered a CBP record of nearly 20 tons of cocaine.
In addition to local law enforcement canine teams, CBP used non-intrusive inspection and radiation detecting technology. The U.S. Coast Guard contributed to the operation.