By Ron VandenBoom
Security is tight today along the American Canadian Border north of Havre due to the arrest last week of an Algerian man who tried to smuggle explosives into the United States.
Robert Finley, chief Border Patrol Agent for the Havre Sector, said this morning that all of the stations along the Hi-Line are in a state of "high alert" following the incident.
Finley, whose staff covers a border span of 435 miles, said he has increased flyovers of the border area because of the alert and all of the border patrol agents in this sector are on call.
"We are taking this very seriously," Finley said.
The Algerian man, Ahmed Ressam, was apprehended with nitroglycerin and other explosives at the Port Angeles, Wash., border crossing aboard a ferryboat from Victoria, British Columbia. A manhunt is still under way in the United States and in Canada for a suspected accomplice.
Finley said his agency is also working very closely with local law enforcement agencies, namely the Havre Police Department and the Hill County Sheriff's Office, during the alert.
Because of its vastness, the Havre Sector is also highly dependent on motion detectors and on motioned activated video monitoring devices that Finley said would be monitored vigilantly during the alert.
Finley also warned that any unknown vehicle near the border, particularly on the back roads, or off road, could expect be stopped and searched.
The recent snow storm in the Havre area is also likely to help monitor the border, Finley said, because it is easier to track vehicles in the snow and easier to spot from the air.
He asked that people who live or travel in the area of the border be understanding of the extra precautions they take during the alert.
Harry Thomas, district director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Helena, said he didn't know how long the alert would last, but he didn't expect that the heightened security would create any major delays for the average traveler crossing the border into the United States.