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U.S. Customs Service : better targeting of airline passengers for personal searches could produce better results
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    NTL-AVIATION-Aviation Laws and Regulations ; NTL-AVIATION-Aviation Safety/Airworthiness ;
  • Abstract:
    The Customs Service faces a major challenge in effectively carrying out its drug interdiction and trade enforcement missions while facilitating the flow of cargo and persons into the United States. To carry out its mission, Customs inspectors are authorized to detain and search airline passengers they suspect may be bringing contraband, such as illegal drugs, into the country. Concerns have been raised about Customs' policies and procedures for selecting or "targeting" passengers for examinations and conducting personal searches, including strip-searches and x-rays. Recently some airline passengers have filed lawsuits against the Customs Service claiming that they had been singled out by inspectors for examination on the basis of discriminatory practices and were inappropriately subjected to personal searches, particularly strip-searches. Approximately 140 million passengers entered the United States on international flights during the two fiscal years 1997 and 1998. From these arriving international passengers, Customs inspectors selected about 102,000 passengers for some form of personal search.
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