Every day, a high-stakes battle affecting the security and well-being of millions of Americans is played out far off our shores. The conflict occurs across more than 6 million square miles of ocean--an area larger than the size of the contiguous United States--where smugglers transport cocaine and other illegal drugs from South America. Their cargo is ultimately intended for sale in our cities and towns---but not if the U.S. Coast Guard stops it first.
"Cocaine trafficking is the leading drug threat to the U.S.," said Michael Walther, director of the National Drug Intelligence Center. Half the police departments surveyed in the country identify cocaine as the drug most contributing to violent crimes, according to Walther. After marijuana, cocaine is the second-most-used illegal drug in our country--more than 36 million people have tried it at least once. Its sales help support the activities of criminal gangs throughout the Americas; Mexican drug cartels; and terrorist organizations like FARC, a revolutionary group in Colombia.
From the Bellingham Herald, on border security around the Olympics:
While construction workers won't put the finishing touches on the new Peace Arch port of entry on Interstate 5 until December, federal officials say they have taken steps to make sure that nothing disrupts the flow of traffic during the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
"We hope the Olympics is a story about peaceful international competition, not about the border," said Tom Schreiber, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman.
To minimize the chance of problems, the border agency is poised to keep 10 lanes open and staffed during the Olympics' February run. That means adding four temporary booths to the six normally available now.
While construction workers are still busy inside a new 30,000-square-foot building for border services, the most disruptive parts of the $107 million megaproject are complete, Schreiber said. The northbound overpass is up and running, and the eventual demolition of the old 1976 building won't get under way until the Olympics are over.
"They are freezing their activities that would be in the way," Schreiber said.
The construction project is under the authority of the U.S. General Services Administration. GSA spokesman Ross Buffington confirmed that the construction job will be taking a back seat to traffic flow while the Olympics are in progress.
From USA Today, on Super Bowl security:
The vast security operation protecting the Super Bowl and surrounding events ranges from Air Force F-16s patrolling the skies above Miami on game day to a buffer zone extending at least 100 yards out from the stadium.
No one without a credential or ticket can get past that barrier — and everyone is subjected to meticulous screening by law enforcement personnel. Also among the security tools: 100 magnetometers, bomb-sniffing dogs, and devices used to detect chemical or biological threats.
In the run-up to next Sunday's game between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, the FBI is running the Joint Operations Center, which houses in one place more than 200 representatives from about 68 federal, state and local agencies that are responsible for security and responding to any threats.
Secretary Napolitano will participate in the Super Bowl XLIV Security press conference featuring members of national and local law enforcement and NFL security
Broward County Convention Center
1950 Eisenhower Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.