Coast Guard, ICE and CBP complete Boston security mission

BOSTON – The Coast Guard, partnered with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol, completed a port security operation in the offshore waters near Boston Tuesday and Thursday.

The operation’s main goal was to improve on the small vessel security strategy, which recognizes vessels less than 300 tons as a potentially high threat to port security.

Additional, it allowed the three federal agencies to enhance the working relationships with each other and broaden their information networks through streamlined intelligence sharing.

Boarding teams, made from members of each agency, deployed from Coast Guard boats and conducted a total of eight boardings during which they verified the documentation of fishing crews and searched the federal database for wanted individuals or warrants.

Further, the teams inspected the boats to ensure commercial vessel safety and fishing regulations were followed. One vessel crew was issued a violation for having an illegally sized net and having no permit onboard.

“The Coast Guard has been boarding fishing boats for years,” said Lt. Joel Carse, chief of enforcement at Coast Guard Sector Boston. “But there’s a big difference between boarding a boat for safety reasons and boarding it because, as a small vessel, it could pose a significant threat to the harbor.”

He said most of the port security regulations, put into effect following Sept. 11, apply to vessels 300 tons or larger and until recently, smaller vessels have not been a major U.S. security focus. He said although the agencies do not have information indicating a specific local threat, small vessels have been used in the past to carry out attacks overseas.

Carse said although joint operations between the Coast Guard, ICE and CBP are not new, this operation sets the framework for a future of greater multi-agency coverage in the port of Boston with regard to the small vessel security strategy.

“ICE is proud to assist the U.S. Coast Guard and DHS partner agencies in port security operations like this one. The homeland security mission is a shared responsibility and together, we are working every day to ensure the safety and security of our nation’s borders” said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent-in-charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Boston.

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