U.S. Border Patrol Marks 75th Anniversary!

U.S. Border Patrol Marks 75th Anniversary!
Posted by FoM on June 01, 1999 at 11:28:09 PT
Grand Forks agents note the changes!
Source: Pioneer Planet
They've gone from traveling on snowshoes to snowmobiles, horses to airplanes. Modern technology has given them electronic motion detectors, video cameras and thermal imaging equipment.
But the mission of the U.S. Border Patrol has remained the same -- preventing the unlawful entry of aliens and contraband into the country.Begun in 1924 as a way to reduce smuggling that arose after World War I, the U.S. Border Patrol is celebrating 75 years in service.``Back then you got a badge, a gun and a saddle,'' said Lonny Schweitzer, assistant chief patrol agent for the Grand Forks sector headquarters. ``You had to have your own horse.''The agency currently has about 8,000 agents working along the nation's borders. Three hundred of those are stationed along the country's northern border.Since 1939, Grand Forks has served as headquarters for a sector of the Border Patrol that stretches from western North Dakota to Wisconsin. The local office had an open house last week to observe the anniversary. The sector, which has 29 sworn officers, also reaches as far south as Kansas and Missouri.In all, the Grand Forks sector includes 917 miles of border -- 403 miles of land and 514 miles of lakeshore and river bank.While the Border Patrol has focused its resources on the southern border due to higher incidence of illegal entry and drug smuggling, northern border agents see their share of those problems.Of late, a potent type of marijuana grown in Canada has been making its way into the country across the northern border. And people from China, Mexico and other countries are increasingly using the boundary to enter the United States.But the price they pay is high, thanks to Border Patrol efforts.Schweitzer said 20 years ago, a person seeking illegal entry into the United States paid $150 to smugglers. These days, it can cost as much as $800 just to get across the border.With 29 agents, the Border Patrol can't be everywhere at once. Schweitzer said the agency relies heavily on local and state law enforcement, as well as on residents.Hank Henderson, a retired agent who was based out of Warroad, Minn., began with the Border Patrol in Texas in 1949. At the time, his sector had six men, a sedan and a Jeep. He was transferred to Warroad in 1962 and stayed there the rest of his career, retiring in 1974.While Warroad had been considered a fairly inactive post for the Border Patrol, Henderson said it didn't stay that way during his tenure.``We kicked up some stones,'' he said.In the early 1970s, his office made a substantial drug bust, netting one of the largest amounts of hashish and marijuana at that time, Henderson said.He even recalls a chase that involved speeds as high as 125 mph, and 21 rifle shells fired into his windshield.``I had my share,'' Henderson said. ``It was like flying -- hours of boredom and suddenly white-knuckled adrenaline.''Henderson has written a history on several of the patrol boats used on Rainy Lake, Lake of the Woods and other bodies of water in the region. He agreed that while some of the Border Patrol's methods have changed over the years, the mission has not.``They've got a lot of electronic and mechanical assistance,'' he said. ``(But) they still have to have a guy in the bush chasing them down.''
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