Border Patrol checkpoints becoming more common in Maine

HOULTON, Maine - Border Patrol checkpoints in the are becoming more common in New England, even here in Maine.

Recently, there was one setup up just north of Bangor.

"The checkpoints are a tool that the Border Patrol utilize, to help secure the border," said Dennis Harmon, the division chief of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection sector in Houlton. "It's another layer of defense. They're looking for immigration violations. We're looking for other contraband that is being smuggled into the United States and at times we come across other violators of law, be it state, county or federal."

Harmon says that sometimes dogs are at checkpoints to help with the search.

"We have detector dogs. Those dogs are a trained to find concealed humans and narcotics."

Harmon says that there's one narcotic that must be seized in found, even though it's legal in Maine.

"Federal law does not recognize marijuana as a legal substance, therefore, as federal sworn officers, we're obligated by law to take action on that. The medical marijuana card does not provide you protection from federal law."

When it comes to choosing a location of a checkpoint, they try to find a spot that's difficult to avoid.

"We look for something where it's not easy to circumvent and in the case of Interstate 95, runs north to south in the state of Maine. It's a major route of egress out of Aroostook County, and in the case of the checkpoint that we just recently had outside of Lincoln. We can cover 400 miles of border, so we basically have a pulse check of what's going on in that 400 miles."

Harmon says by law, US citizens don't need to show documentation when traveling within the U.S., but for non-citizens that's not the case.

"If you're not a citizen of the United states, by law, you must provide and carry your immigration documents if you are over the age of 18. Failure to do so is a violation of federal law."