WA Border Security New Units

Smugglers take notice. The noose around the border with Canada just got tighter. America's first northern border air and sea patrol is now on duty.

Federal customs and immigration officials, Friday (8/20), dedicated the first of five planned bases for regular flights to look for drug runners and others crossing the Canadian border illegally.

The Bellingham, Washington base is part of a dramatic boost in surveillance of the Canadian border. The 69-person Bellingham Air Marine Branch will use helicopters, airplanes and high-speed boats to patrol the border.

Although similar bases have policed the Mexican border for three decades, the new facility is the first on the Canadian border.

Friday's (8/20) dedication highlighted a new addition to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's fleet, the "Pilatus." It's a state of the art turbo-prop surveillance plane.

Previously, customs and immigration service aircraft have patrolled the border only sporadically. The new bases will dot the border from Washington State to upstate New York.

Among those at the dedication was Washington Senator Patty Murray.

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