Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST)

Border Enforcement Security Task Force

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) enforces a wide array of laws, including those related to securing the border and combating criminal smuggling at land and seaports.

Our nation's southern border has experienced a dramatic surge in cross-border crime and violence in recent years due to intense competition between Mexican drug cartels and criminal smuggling organizations that employ predatory tactics to realize profits. Law enforcement agencies at the northern border and seaports face similar challenges from transnational smuggling organizations.

In response to this trend, HSI has partnered with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement counterparts to create the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), a series of multi-agency teams developed to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations posing significant threats to border security.

Several international law enforcement agencies serve as key members of the team.

On the southwest border, the participation of the Mexican Secretariat of Public Safety or SSP, is vital. On our country's northern border, Canadian law enforcement agencies like the Canada Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Niagara Regional Police Service, the Toronto Metropolitan Police, the Windsor Police Service and the Amherstburg Police Service are active members. The Colombian National Police is an active partner with both the San Diego and San Juan BEST units.

Miami BEST

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Norfolk BEST

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BEST Locations

Currently, there are 32 BEST Units with locations around the U.S. and in Mexico.

  • Arizona (Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Nogales and Casa Grande)
  • California (Imperial Valley, Los Angeles Seaport, San Diego Seaport, San Ysidro, and San Francisco Seaport)
  • Florida (Miami Seaport, Fort Lauderdale Seaport)
  • Mexico (Mexico City)
  • Michigan (Detroit)
  • New Mexico (Albuquerque, Deming, Las Cruces)
  • New York (Buffalo, New York Seaport, Massena)
  • New Jersey (Newark Seaport)
  • Texas (El Paso, Laredo, Rio Grande Valley, Houston Seaport)
  • Washington (Blaine, Seattle Seaport)
  • Gulf Coast (New Orleans Seaport, Mobile Seaport, Gulfport Seaport)
  • Southeast Coastal (Wilmington Seaport, Charleston Seaport, Savannah Seaport)
  • Virginia (Hampton Roads Seaport)
  • Puerto Rico (San Juan Seaport)
  • Hawaii (Honolulu Seaport)

BEST Successes

From their inception through July 2012, BEST units have collectively initiated more than 7,700 cases. These actions have resulted in more than:

  • 9,100 criminal arrests
  • 6,300 administrative arrests
  • 79,420 pounds of cocaine
  • 1,280 pounds of heroin
  • 848,260 pounds of marijuana
  • 4,300 pounds of ecstasy
  • 4,480 pounds of methamphetamines
  • 13,540 weapons
  • 2.7 million rounds of ammunition (actual number 2,771,900)
  • 3,675 vehicles
  • $109,824,841 million in currency

The Future of BEST

HSI will continue to establish new BEST units in areas where transnational criminal organizations exploit vulnerabilities along the nation's border and at critical seaports. These new teams will focus on all aspects of the enforcement process, from interdiction to prosecution to removal.

Expanding BESTs will help dismantle the leadership and supporting infrastructure of criminal organizations responsible for perpetrating violence and illegal activity along our borders and in the nation's interior.