Multiple U.S. and Canadian partner agencies planned and executed four large-scale interagency, binational operations throughout the summer in Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, and Strait of Juan de Fuca focused on a variety of maritime law enforcement and security missions.
“Despite the challenges of protecting a vast and geographically diverse region like the Pacific Northwest during the COVID-19 pandemic, the commitment of U.S. and Canadian partners to the continued safety and security of the public, our natural resources, and the economic prosperity of both nations remain resolute,” said Capt. Patrick Hilbert, commander of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “These joint operations are a testament to the strength of our shared resolve as we continue to engage and collaborate on important issues moving forward.”
Joint maritime operations focused on enhanced maritime border security to deter and interdict illicit activity; improved awareness of vessel movements; traffic patterns; and fishing activity; strengthening interagency partnerships, communications, and interoperability; and leveraging resources and partnerships to achieve multi-mission success.
At the conclusion of operations, U.S. and Canadian partner agency personnel conducted more than 1,000 vessel checks resulting in issuance of 35 violations for safety, illegal fishing, and boating under the influence.
Additionally, more than 60 maritime border crossings were vetted by participating agency personnel, and nine investigative leads were discovered including vessels and persons under investigation for money crimes, narcotic trafficking, Southern Resident Killer Whale endangerment, and crab poaching.
“CBSA is proud to work with its partners to safeguard our borders and keep our communities safe from illegal activity. By collaborating and cooperating, we are stronger and smarter in addressing risks and threats to public safety,” said John Linde, CBSA Director of Intelligence and Enforcement Operations Division in the Pacific Region.
Participating U.S. federal and Canadian partners are part of the Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinating Mechanism. The PNW ReCoM coordinates multi-mission interagency law enforcement operations and security initiatives throughout Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest, and actively works to strengthen partner communication and collaboration through information sharing and active working groups. PNW ReCoM leadership positions rotate on an annual basis, and is currently co-chaired by Canada Border Services Agency and Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations.
“The RCMP Shiprider program is dedicated to working with our partners to achieve our common goals, such as border security and disruption of cross-border crime,” said Superintendent Bert Ferreira, Officer in Charge of the Federal RCMP Border Integrity Program in British Columbia. “Joint operations, such as this one, provide an opportunity to showcase the positive results that come from the collaboration and interoperability between our agencies. We look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with our partners and the results of future joint operations.”
The commander of CBP AMO in the Pacific Northwest, Director Jeremy Thompson, said, “AMO brings dedicated airborne and seaborne law enforcement assets to our region, and we’re honored to serve alongside our U.S. and Canadian partners. PNW ReCoM partnerships are crucial to safeguard the people of the United States.”
“Our PNW ReCoM highlights the great work the Department of Homeland Security accomplishes in the maritime environment with our U.S. and Canadian law enforcement partners,” said Chief Patrol Agent David S. BeMiller. The U.S. Border Patrol, Blaine Sector, is committed to supporting our partners, protecting our communities, achieving border security, and enhancing national security.”
Kenneth Williams, CBP Office of Field Operations Area Port Director said, “This operation illustrates the strong network of law enforcement partners in the Pacific Northwest and their commitment in keeping our communities safe. We value being part of this great partnership and look forward to future collaborations.”
The following agencies participated in the operations:
– Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound
– Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91101
– Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team West
– Coast Guard Investigative Service
– Customs and Border Protection Patrol Office of Field Operations
– Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations
– Customs and Border Protection U.S. Border Patrol
– Customs and Border Protection Office of Intelligence
– Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
– Homeland Security Investigations
– Royal Canadian Mounted Police
– Canada Border Services Agency
– Department of Fisheries and Oceans