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 work.

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.

American Heroes 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.

Excerpts for this article, printed courtesy of U.S. Customs Today, February 2000, Vol. 36, No. 2.

Diana Dean 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.
Senior Inspector 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.


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