LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- At the Port of Los Angeles, the challenge for U.S. Customs and Border Protection have never been greater.
A giant container is offloaded every six seconds. The goods comprise 43 percent of the nation's imports.
The Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement team investigates the most suspicious shipments. They screen for items ranging from methamphetamine compounds to radioactive material that could make a dirty bomb.
"We find things that could be a threat to the American people every day - from hard narcotics, to weapons, to explosives across the country," said Kevin McAlneenan, newly appointed Customs and Border Protection commissioner.
Screening quickly and thoroughly is essential to maintain the flow of goods.
Among their tools is what they call a non-intrusive inspection device. It's a scanner the size of a truck that fires gamma rays through a container wall and is able to penetrate steel up to 6 inches thick.
"Think of it as an X-ray, but a very advanced one that produces a very clear image of what is in a container or a package," McAlneenan said.
Smuggling of contraband pharmaceuticals is on the rise.
"Hard narcotics, everything from synthetic opioids, which are devastating to our communities. We have overdoses growing across the country," McAlneenan said.
The border security chief spoke before the L.A. area Chamber of Commerce to enlist business operators as partners in tracking fake products. The CBP operates a huge database in which retailers notify the department about what items they are ordering.
The CBP then tracks the shipments to ensure that only the ordered items are what is coming in. The data includes where the item is manufactured, what carriers are being used and details about the commodity.
McAlneenan said cooperation with U.S. industries is vital to the nation's safety and economy.
"Speed and predictability are the keys to successful international trade. The lower our supply chain barriers are to crossing borders, the more our importers and exporters can profit and the better service they can provide to the consumer," he said.
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