The Port Angeles
arrest was the first in a string of Y2K-related events involving Customs
inspectors and suspected terrorists over the following weeks in December.
For example, less than a week later, two more individuals with ties
to the same terrorist ring as Ahmed Ressam were arrested at another
northern border crossing. Customs employees in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire,
and Vermont apprehended these suspects because of similar alert inspection
These cases are
only the latest in which the U.S. Customs Service was directly involved
in stopping alleged terrorists from bringing weapons and explosives
into this country. Like Diana Dean and Mark Johnson, Customs inspectors
throughout the country work with other parts of their agency, employees
throughout the Federal government, and state and local law enforcement
personnel to protect the American people from international terrorism.
or Federal Employees Just Doing Their Jobs?
Dean, Johnson, and
their fellow Customs inspectors became overnight celebrities, appearing
on major television news programs and in The New York Times,
Washington Post, and USA Today, because their "inspectors'
intuition" assuredly prevented one or more terrorist incidents
on American soil.
As Dean says, "We definitely work well as a team. We know what
each other is thinking without having to talk about it." And, thanks
to their teamwork, instincts, experience, and quick action, we'll never
know how many lives were saved, how many injuries were prevented, and
how much property damage was avoided. After all, for Customs inspectors,
"it's all in a day's work."
For more information, contact Bill Anthony, U. S. Customs Service,
Office of Public Affairs, at (202)927-0549.
this article, printed courtesy of U.S. Customs Today, February
2000, Vol. 36, No. 2.
is a 19-year veteran of the U.S. Customs Service. She's served in
Port Angeles since 1990 and is a graduate of the Customs Service
Academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. When she's
not busy thwarting terrorists at the northern border, she raises
rare birds and wildcats.
Mark Johnson began his career in the Port of San Ysidro, California
in 1991 and has been at Port Angeles since 1997. While he was in
San Ysidro, he earned a reputation as one of the port's most successful
enforcement officers. He initiated over 100 seizures of narcotics
totaling over 5,000 pounds of marijuana and cocaine.