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Australia strengthens border protection links with United States

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Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

Scott Morrison

21 November 2013

Australia strengthens border protection links with United States

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) will strengthen its links with US counterparts, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, said today.

From 2014, two ACBPS officers will be posted to US Customs and Border Protection (US CBP) to strengthen joint intelligence capabilities and engagement between the two agencies. ACBPS and US CBP have also agreed to establish a formal strategic partnership in 2014, and will now work on the relevant legal and associated arrangements to complete this agreement.

Mr Morrison said the arrangements were confirmed during a visit by the CEO of ACBPS, Michael Pezzullo, to North America this month for a series of meetings with border protection, law enforcement and national security counterparts.

The Australian officers will be posted to the US CBP's National Targeting Centre and the intelligence division of the US CBP. The postings follow a 12 month evaluation by the ACBPS of the value of foreign engagement.

'During that period, closer engagement with partners in North America led to the seizure of 250kgs of narcotics and many arrests at borders in Australia and overseas,' Mr Morrison said.

'These results demonstrate that governments must work together to effectively combat transnational crime and terrorism. By positioning these officers in US CBP, the Service will establish daily interaction with one of our closest border protection partners, who are successfully targeting the very serious and organised crime threats faced by Australia,' Mr Morrison said.

While in North America, Mr Pezzullo also met with Canada Border Services Agency where an extensive programme of joint activity was also agreed. In the US, he met with senior representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration, including the DEA Administrator, Michele Leonhart, Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Todd Jones, Assistant Commissioner of International Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security, Alan Bersin, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations.

Mr Pezzullo also met with the Commandant of the US Coast Guard, Admiral Robert J Papp Jr, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop closer ties with the US Coast Guard across a range of areas of joint interest to both agencies in the maritime domain.

During his time in North America, Mr Pezzullo took the opportunity to visit and be briefed upon a number of US intelligence and operations centres which are relevant to Australia's border protection mission.

'Co-operation with international border agencies and law enforcement partners is a key element of the reform process now underway within ACBPS which will deliver safer borders for Australia,' Mr Morrison said.