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CBP Opens 5th Northern Border Air and Marine Branch

(EMAILWIRE.COM, August 12, 2008 ) DETROIT – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officially opened the Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch today at Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit to enhance CBP’s northern border security operations. The Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch is the last of five planned new air and marine facilities that make up the Northern Border Air Wing as mandated by Congress after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.

This new branch will bolster the Canadian-Great Lakes border region security with air and marine law enforcement agents, surveillance and airspace security capabilities. The branch will play a vital role in homeland security efforts to dismantle human and narcotics smuggling networks along the northern border.

“With the expansion of our air and marine operations in the Great Lakes-Canadian border region Customs and Border Protection is helping to assure the American people of our dedication to secure the nation’s borders,” said Assistant Commissioner Michael C. Kostelnik. “Working closely with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners and our Canadian leadership in the north we can bring added law enforcement resources and a greater sense of border security to the Great Lakes region.”

Once fully operational, the Air and Marine Branch will consist of over 75 Air and Marine Interdiction Agents, Air Enforcement Agents, and mission support staff, in addition to 29 contractor employees. Eleven aircraft will be assigned to the Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch: two UH60 Blackhawk helicopters for Interdiction and apprehension operations, one EC-120 helicopter for apprehension operations, two AS350B3 helicopters for apprehension operations, two C550 Citation airplanes for intercept and apprehension operations, two Cessna 210 airplanes for surveillance and tracking operations, two C-12 airplanes for detection, surveillance and tracking operations. These aircraft will enable the air branch to carry out a full range of air and ground interdiction.

The Detroit Air Operations in this region were established on March 1, 2002 by the U.S. Border Patrol. In 2005, with the merger of the Border Patrol Aviation Program with the legacy Customs Aviation Program, CBP Air and Marine (A&M) was created. The merger brought together the former air operations in Detroit and Cincinnati creating the Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch.

“The Great Lakes state is answering the call to protect our northern border, this new air and marine wing is a step towards giving our men and women the resources necessary to get the job done,” said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin. “This is a critical security step.”

"The decision to place the Great Lakes Branch of the Northern Border Air Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base was an important strategic decision because of the proximity to some of the busiest border crossings in the country; one of the largest freshwater bodies in the world and the center of the domestic automotive industry.” said U.S. Rep. Candice Miller. “This air and marine wing is a great asset in securing our borders from smuggling, illegal border crossings and terrorism."

As part of the DHS Northern Border Air Wing, in 2004 CBP opened the first two Air and Marine Branches at Bellingham, Wash., and Plattsburg, N.Y. The third branch opened in 2006 in Great Falls, Mont. and the fourth branch opened in Grand Forks, N.D. in 2007.

“During the last four years CBP has been enhancing the security of the northern border by increasing its air and marine presence. Today we are commemorating the establishment of these operations to secure the last 863 miles of the border.” said Eric Rembold, Director of Aviation Operations for the branch. “In establishing this $17 million dollar, environmentally-friendly facility, we have helped the regional economy by only using local businesses.”

“The new CBP Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch here at Selfridge will bring tremendous capability to our border enforcement efforts moving us closer to operational control of our nation's borders.” said Randolph Gallegos, Chief Patrol Agent, Detroit Border Patrol Sector.


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Homeland Security
Juan Muñoz-Torres
(202) 359-2641


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