Lucia Garofalo, 35, and Bouabide Chamchi, 20, were detained after a Vermont customs agent became suspicious of their car and called in bomb-sniffing dogs. The canines detected what may have been traces of explosives; no bombs were found, but the two were arrested anyway and accused of conspiring to use a false passport and other immigration violations.
Chamchi is the second Algerian with allegedly falsified documents arrested in the past week. Officials were aware of Garofalo as a result of previous crossings and after she was observed by surveillance monitors at different border posts this month.
Safeguarding the U.S.-Canada boundary is the job of almost 300 border patrol agents who rely heavily on high-tech surveillance. Deputy Chief Paul Conover says the technology has increased the border patrol's abilities to do their job "tremendously. It enhances our ability to cover more areas."
The command center of the agency's Swanton, Vt., unit monitors 261 miles of a rugged, remote frontier, and is credited with making 45 percent of all arrests along the U.S.-Canadian border. In very remote areas, a video camera is trained on the road leading into the U.S. As a vehicle drives by, it activates a sensor buried beneath the surface, and the sensor triggers another camera which pinpoints the car's license number -- all under the watchful eyes of agents.
Equipment includes magnetic, seismic and infrared detectors, all of which are concealed. The border patrol has increased its efforts 20 percent so far, and will double that percentage at least through the end of millennium celebrations.