• ICE dive unit targets drug smuggling containers

    The intense law enforcement focus on drug trafficking through Mexico could push some cocaine smuggling operations to U.S. coasts and ports; in an effort to prevent another era of “cocaine cowboys” in Miami, circa the 1980s, U.S. officials are not leaving the security of ports and international maritime shipments to chance; “If you cut off one way for drugs to get in, they will find another way,” one ICE agent said

  • Revamping inbound mail security

    After an explosive printer cartridge was found last year en route to the United States in UPS and FedEx shipments, DHS and industry are now collaborating to establish “precautionary” security measures and improve the flow of parcels and packages

  • TSA brings 100% cargo screening forward to 2011

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has brought forward its 100 per cent cargo screening target to 31 December 2011; the earliest possible implementation date for 100 per cent screening was initially thought to be 2013, given the complex challenges associated with screening international inbound cargo carried on passenger aircraft; now 100 per cent of the cargo that is uplifted on passenger aircraft bound for the United States must be screened by the end of this year

  • Coping with tough air-cargo inspection requirements

    It has been four months since TSA began to implement the 100 percent air cargo screening requirement; two industries in particular faced added difficulties: agriculture, which relies on air transport to ship highly perishable, high value-added crops such as cherries, strawberries, asparagus, and more to overseas markets; and the art world: even the faint possibility of an airline inspector with a screwdriver uncrating a Calder sculpture or an early Renaissance tempera painting is enough to keep many in the art world awake at night

  • Overflights over U.S. are not top-priority security concern

    Terrorists who are trying to exploit cargo planes to launch an attack on the United States may find a security weakness in screening of cargo planes flying over, though not into, the United States; planes that go over the United States but are not supposed to land here are not routinely screened according to U.S. standards; U.S. officials say terrorist networks are trying to exploit cargo planes because it is so much harder to get operatives onto U.S. flights with weapons or explosives; security experts say targeting overflights for protection is a waste of scarce resources; a former TSA intelligence official said that part of the reason behind the lesser concern with overflights is that the “vast majority” of overflights originate in Canada, and the Canadians know how to screen; it is “not some Third World country,” according to the official

  • Congress to decide risk-based vs. 100% screening debate on air cargo security

    One of the many aviation security-related issues Congress will have to grapple with is cargo security; TSA argues that risk-based strategies are adequate; Congress, though, is pressing for 100 percent screening of air cargo; the problem with a 100 percent security screening mandate is cost: the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates a $250 million cost in the first year and $650 million per year for the following five years to implement the mandate for 100 percent baggage screening on passenger aircraft; the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that the mandate could cost more than $700 million just in the first year and perhaps as high as several billion dollars annually

  • Securing rails: doable, if complicated, endeavor

    For a long time, the primary concern when it came to rail security was people wanting to steal a freight train’s contents, shoot the crew or rob the passengers; the U.S. post-9/11 focus on security, however, is shining a new spotlight on other hazards surrounding railroads; the desire to protect the railroads, their employees, and passengers must be balanced by what can really be done given that rail is used to move large numbers of people and large quantities of goods; railroad security — whether for passenger rails, commuter lines, or freight trains — is thus a complicated endeavor

  • Port of L.A. heist raises questions about port security

    The Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex uses the latest — together with the simplest — technology in trying to prevent weapons of mass destruction from being smuggled through the port. Among these means used: a $3 million high-tech screening ship, a radiation-detecting helicopter and a badge-carrying black Labrador retriever that can sniff out chemical and biological weapons; all these security measures, and more, could not prevent an old-fashion heist of cargo containers from the port; the damage to the companies involved aside, the ease with which garden variety robbers could enter the port, over-power security guards, and leave with three large trailers raises questions about what more sophisticated terrorist might be able to do

  • UN agency wants new rules on air cargo security

    The International Civil Aviation Organization concentrate (ICAO) is pushing new guidelines for cargo security to counter al Qaeda’s new mail-bomb strategy, but is stopping short of calling for 100 percent screening of packages, as pilots and some U.S. lawmakers have urged

  • DHS tightens air cargo security measures

    In the wake of the failed air cargo plot, DHS has announced a series of measures to tighten air cargo security; among the measures: no high risk cargo will be allowed on passenger aircraft; toner and ink cartridges over sixteen ounces will be prohibited on passenger aircraft in both carry-on bags and checked bags on domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States

  • Germany pushes EU air cargo security plan

    Germany has demanded that the European Union draw up a blacklist of unsafe foreign freight dispatchers as part of an urgent plan to improve air cargo security on board passenger planes following bomb plots originating in Yemen and Greece

  • German air shipping industry warns against overreaction on air freight security

    German security expert says that, as with the illegal drugs trade, the only practical solution is to infiltrate the criminal organizations themselves; “If [technological solutions] worked, we would not have illegal drugs going to the U.S.—- But we have hundreds of tons being illegally imported to the U.S. every year”

  • Closing gaping cargo security holes prohibitively expensive

    The technology exists to safeguard the world’s air-transport system against threats such as the Yemen-based mail bombs, but the cost may be too high to be practical; swabbing packages individually for explosives is considered the most effective way to scan, but this is not a practical option for the millions of packages that crisscross the globe every day; the cost of these machines would likely be in the billions of dollars, and would be economically impossible for some countries

  • Only 20 percent of U.S.-bound cargo screened for bombs

    About 20 percent of the nine billion pounds of air cargo that comes from overseas each year is physically checked for bombs; at some overseas airports, cargo is checked for bombs before being put on planes, but that screening could be below U.S. security standards, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); the TSA may start forcing airlines to inspect suspicious cargo before a plane takes off from overseas. the agency is studying whether the tracking system can target certain U.S.-bound air cargo for screening prior to departure

  • GAO: CBP's shipping security analysis should be improved

    The Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements call for collection of ten pieces of information on U.S.-bound cargo containers, including their country of origin, and two additional pieces of information on ships carrying the cargo; the GAO says that a Customs and Border Protection assessment of the requirements fails to specify why the federal office had chosen to collect the specific pieces of information over other proposals considered