This documentary series follows the work of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials and their efforts to keep the country safe by carefully watching who comes in. A number of cases and locales are shown in each episode.
Homeland Security, USA debuted on ABC in January 2009 but the ratings fell drastically over the course of eight episodes. The network pulled the series in May 2009 and cancelled it. In August, ABC began running the five unaired episodes on Sundays at 5pm.
The final episode, “Strip Clubs. Open on Thursday,” ran on September 6th. Here’s what it’s about…
JFK airport in NYC, NY — Officers stop a suspicious-looking man named Jose. After questioning him, they learn that he’s swallowed 40 pellets to traffic them into the country. If one breaks, it could kill him. The SBP officers must wait for him to pass through his system naturally and it could take up to seven days. When he finally passes one, they use a special machine to clean the pellet so that they can test it. The pellets are heroin and he has swallowed nearly two pounds. They have a street value of $57,000.
San Ysidro, CA — A Mexican woman named Guadalupe is stopped at the border following a tip that she’s trying to cross border for prostitution. Her bag is inspected and she’s questioned by two officers named Monica. Her story is that she’s visiting a friend for the weekend but her clothing is scanty and not appropriate for the weather in San Diego. She also has business cards for several bars and strip clubs, one that’s open on Thursdays. The officers ultimately can’t completely prove that she’s coming to perform sexual acts for money. They end up refusing to let her come into the country but she can apply for another visa.
Blaine WA — Mr. Kravit is being deported back to the US from Canada for fifth time. He’s tried to commit suicide three times so the officers are keeping a close eye on him. He later reveals that he had been told that people who try to commit suicide won’t be deported and was doing it to stay in the country. His information is incorrect. He’d thought that, by doing that, he’d be able to stay in the country. He agrees to be taken to a mental health hospital for examination.
Otay Mesa in San Diego, CA — Because diesel fuel is so much cheaper and unregulated in Mexico, people often try to smuggle it across the border. While looking for that, some officials find a tool box filled with hidden Marijuana. The driver is sentenced to 15 months in prison.
San Ysidro, CA — Two homeless mens have tried to drive a truck across the border to smuggle six people into the country. The men have been offered $1,000 to drive the truck and needed the money to get by. The human cargo are sent back to Mexico and the homeless men are tagged in the CBP system so that security will always know if they try to cross the border again. They say they’ll never do it again and, of course, will never see the money they were promised.
O’Hare airport in Chicago, IL — A young Italian couple is stopped, trying to return to the US for a three month stay. They had been in the States for three months and had returned to Italy for only two days. They claim to be coming back to train for a job but when questioned don’t have a phone number or address. The officials start making phone calls and confirm that they’re planning to work in US illegally. They are charged and sent back to Italy.
Blaine, WA — Two outdoorsmen chefs are planning a cookout with unusual ingredients like elk, buffalo, and moose. The officials check for sheep and goat which is not allowed since they can bring disease. They do find some citrus which is not allowed. They are released but return because zippers on their cases have been broken and file a complaint.
JFK airport in NYC, NY — A father and son from Jamaica are brought into secondary security. The father has heart condition and is clean. His son however is believed to have an arrest history for cocaine in Belise but doesn’t want his Dad to know. The customs officials search his luggage and find a bag with white powder but it’s actually just bug poison. They’re going to let him go until Florida officials call and they verify that he lied on his form, had been arrested for drugs, and therefore can’t be admitted into the country. His Visa is cancelled and he’s sent back home on a plane. Upset, his father must go on without him.
El Paso, TX — A canine sniffs out narcotics under a mini-van and the CBP finds a small compartment built underneath. The officials take the suspicious compartment apart and find bundles wrapped in newspaper. It’s cocaine with a street value of $625,000. The driver is charged and sentenced to four years in federal prison.
JFK airport in NYC, NY — CBP agents stop a woman in a wheelchair who’s acting suspiciously. She’s attempting to bring suitcases packed with generic Viagra into the country. The woman claims that she paid $7,000 for the drugs which she’s trying to transport illegally. It’s estimated that they’re worth $152,000 in street value. The pills are seized and destroyed and the woman is released.
Miami International Airport in Miami, FL — A woman and her family are finally realizing their dream of immigrating to the US legally. They are put on parole for one year and welcomed by the Immigration officers. Their family joyously welcomes them, some noting they’ve been waiting for 20 years for this day. One of the Inspectors recalls when he first came to the country from Columbia in 1972.
While the credits roll, an official talks about a CBP German Shepherd named Rambo. His two-legged partner jokingly notes that, if Rambo could drive, he’d be out of a job. End of series.