CBP Criminal Investigator Description

As one of the premier law enforcement jobs in the federal government, CBP Officers are trained to perform a variety of tasks in the investigation, crime prevention and anti-terrorism spheres. The primary role of CBP is to identify illegal activity at the 328 U.S. ports of entry, halt crimes and apprehend perpetrators.

CBP Officers perform their primary responsibilities by inspecting ships, planes, trains and vehicles for any signs of illegal activity. This may include modification of these transportation conveyances to conceal passengers, narcotics, weapons or other prohibited contraband. The millions of tons of materials that pass through ports and border crossings must be inspected closely to determine if they are safe for entry.

As the guardians of the nation’s borders, CBP Officers and U.S. Border Patrol Agents must maintain constant vigilance. They must recognize unauthorized entry of aliens, smugglers and terrorists along with any potentially dangerous materials which could threaten American lives. The officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection are essential to identifying and apprehending hostile entrants who could pose a risk to major U.S. cities, financial or industrial systems, or American citizens.

In addition to conventional interdiction operations that the federal government has used to halt unauthorized entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has introduced a variety of more powerful and effective technologies to support their mission goals of ensuring border integrity. In recent years, the CBP has implemented advanced air and marine interdiction units to provide a rapid response to illegal incursions from narco-traffickers and terrorist elements. The multi-billion international drug trade poses a serious security risk to the U.S., and these organizations have stepped up their efforts to smuggle goods and people into the country through clandestine operations. These criminal organizations have utilized tunnels, aircraft and boats as well as disguised personnel and vehicles to transport tons of illegal narcotics into the country.

As the sophistication of these entry methods has grown, so too have the interdiction methods of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Recognizing that porous borders pose a serious risk to the security of the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has improved its interdiction efforts by utilizing highly advanced technological systems. In recent years, drone aircraft have been deployed to the land borders to help detect unauthorized vehicles and human beings. These sensitive automated aircraft can detect the passage of humans by foot tracks, disturbance of flora and heat signatures.

In addition to preventing the entry of undocumented aliens, U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel are also deeply involved in the immigrant communities which exist in many border areas and throughout the country. Agents work closely with these communities to help identify gangs, criminal organizations, fugitives and terrorists which endanger American interests. In order to cultivate relationships which can produce valuable information and intelligence, Border Patrol Agents must understand the language and culture of these immigrant groups.

There is considerable collaboration between CBP personnel and other law enforcement agencies. U.S. Customs and Border Protection performs many translation functions for local police and state authorities. They also collect and distribute intelligence to many federal law enforcement organizations. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also tasked with working closely with Mexican and Canadian authorities in order to prevent illegal activities.

Salary & Benefits

With an annual budget of $12.9 billion in 2014, which is a 6.5 percent increase from 2013, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is able to offer increasingly more lucrative salaries and benefits. It has been predicted that the salary for CBP personnel will increase three to five percent in 2014 alone.

With almost 20,000 CBP Officers in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, it should not be surprising that there is wide variation in salaries. The initial salary range for entering Customs and Border Protection Officers is between $34,173 and $55,969 per year which is at the GL-5 to GL-9 pay grade. There is the potential for advancement up to the GS-12 pay grade which has a salary range of $60,877 to $79,138. In addition to the base salary, CBP Officers also quality for 50 percent additional pay on Sundays and double pay for over time.

In addition to competitive salary, CBP Officers enjoy a number of other benefits including

  • Federal Employees Retirement System—this retirement plan deducts one percent of wages
  • Federal Employees Health Benefits—the government subsidizes up to 70 percent of insurance premiums
  • Federal Employees Group Life Insurance—the government provides up to a third of insurance costs
  • Tuition assistance—a portion of tuition for continuing education is paid by the federal government
  • Holiday and paid leave—ten paid holidays and a proportionate number of paid leave days per year (depending upon seniority)

There are also many other benefits associated with serving in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection including student loan repayment, paid training and transportation subsidies.

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