Q&A Peter Muschke, Port Director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Peter Muschke became Port Director for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for Grays Harbor and Westport in 2011. Prior to that he worked as an immigration officer and served in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force for a total of 20 years. He was born in Bremerhaven, Germany to a German mother and father from the U.S. He has one daughter and a grandson. His wife of 20 years passed away in 2006 after a short bout with pancreatic cancer.

“On sunny days and even rainy days I ride my motorcycle,” a Harley touring bike, to work from Lacey. Once a year he rides throughout the Pacific Northwest with a “bunch of retired military folks.”

What does the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Port Director on Grays Harbor do on an average day?

I enter and clear both commercial and private vessels that come into Aberdeen, Hoquiam and Westport harbor. I inspect the crews and passengers, review their documentation and give them permission to go ashore. At the Hoquiam airport I inspect the aircraft, crews and passengers that have landed there from outside the U.S., and collect fees if applicable.

At the office, or whenever somebody has a question, I give answers. I assist people, when asked, fill out CBP-forms, or just answer CBP-related questions.

What do you do on an extraordinary one?

Every day is an extraordinary day for me. No one day is the same. I live and enjoy each and every one.

The mission of Customs and Border Protection is to prevent terrorist attacks and terrorists from entering the country, while maintaining trade and travel. That seems like a tall order, how do you manage to juggle the two objectives?

Border security and trade and travel facilitation go hand-in-hand. It is not that hard to manage, everybody in CBP is a trained professional that can adapt to any situation. Our nation’s economy depends on the flow of imports &exports. Keeping them safe and keeping them moving is our priority.

Have you ever interdicted contraband, such as illegal drugs, or uncovered human trafficking? What happened? Have you ever uncovered smuggling operations?

No contraband or human trafficking at this location, yet. When I was assigned to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, we intercepted quite a lot of contraband. Twice at the airport I was involved with stopping human smuggling operations.

Have you discovered theft of intellectual property or found pests and/or disease?

No, none of those here, but both of those, commercial fraud enforcement and agriculture violations, are high priority areas for CBP nationwide.

How has the Harbor’s recent growth affected your job? How many people work under your jurisdiction here?

Generally, we do not give out specific Ports of Entry (POE) staffing numbers.

The growth of the Harbor is really refreshing and the increase in international trade is vital to our nation’s economy. It makes it more challenging and fun. If any assistance is required here, CBP officers and agriculture specialists from Tacoma are utilized for support.

How much does the port collect annually in import and export duties? What comes in and goes out of the port?

So far this fiscal year, from October 2013 to February 2014, import duties collected were in excess of $ 550,000. Major imports to this port consist of automobiles, canola oil, and methanol. Exports also include cars (you see them from the road when you drive by) on Terminal 4, logs from Terminals 4 and 3, and soybeans and dried distiller grains from Terminal 2.

What’s the weirdest item you have had to confiscate?

While working at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, I discovered a jar filled with formaldehyde and all kinds of weird critters, such as snakes, rats, bugs and who knows what else. I was told that that would be considered a delicacy in some countries. It was just weird and creepy to me.

If you were to invite any people, living or dead, to sail around the world on a cruise, who would that be?

My late wife, my daughter and my grandson.


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