Ex Coastie here. I have conducted hundreds of boardings and have never inspected a head
, not once. As far as my experience goes, aside from bilges, engine
compartments, and holds (anywhere big enough for a lot of drugs or people), searches were plain view only. We didn't root through people's stuff. We checked documentation
and safety equipment
mainly on recreational vessels. Of course just like any other LE organization, some boarding teams, may be a bit more aggressive than others, that's just life.
As far as DEA, and local LE entities. Couldn't say. I would assume it works more like getting pulled over in a car.
Here is/was the relevant U.S. Codes for the CG's LE abilities.
14 USC 89(a)
is where the CG gets their LE authority, this was on the back of our Miranda warning cards. Used for the "what gives you the right?" questions.
"The Coast Guard may make inquiries, examinations, inspections, searches, seizures, and arrests upon the high seas and waters over which the U.S. has jurisdiction, for the prevention, detection, and suppression of violations of the laws of the U.S. For such purposes, commissioned, warrant, and petty officers, may at anytime, go aboard any vessel subject to the jurisdiction or to the operation of any law of the U.S., address inquiries to those on board, examine the ship's documents and papers, and examine, inspect, and search the vessel
, and use all necessary force to compel compliance."
14 USC 2
"The Coast Guard shall enforce or assist in the enforcement of all applicable Federal laws on, under, and over the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."
14 USC 143 AND 19 USC 1401(i)
"Commissioned, warrant, and petty officers of the Coast Guard are deemed to be Officers of the Customs
and when so acting, shall insofar as performance of the duties relating to Customs
laws are concerned, be subject to regulations
issued by the Secretary of the Treasury governing officers of the Customs."
14 USC 141
- This may be where "head" inspections come from, to assist state/local enforcement?
"The Coast Guard may, when so requested by proper authority, utilize it's personnel and facilities to assist any Federal agency, state, territory, possession, or political subdivision thereof, or the District of Colombia
to perform any activity, for which such personnel and facilities are especially qualified."
19 USC 1589(a)
"Grants Customs officers general LE authority to:
1. Carry a firearm
2. Execute and serve any order, warrant, subpoena, summons or other process issued under the authority of the U.S.
3. Make an arrest without warrant for any offense against the U.S. committed in the officer's presence or for a felony committed outside the officer's presence if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony; and
4. Perform any other LE duty that the Secretary of the Treasury may designate."
33 USC 1226
"Provides authority for the Coast Guard to take actions to prevent or respond to an act of terrorism against an individual, vessel or public commercial
structure, that is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and located within or adjacent to the marine environment
or a vessel of the United States or an individual on board that vessel. Such actions to prevent or respond to acts of terrorism include, but are not limited to:
2. Port and harbor patrols
3. Establishment of security
4. Development of contingency plans and procedures
The statue also expressly authorizes the Coast Guard to dispatch properly trained and qualified armed CG personnel on vessels and public or commercial
structures on or adjacent to waters subject to the U.S. jurisdiction to deter or respond to acts of terrorism or transportation security
19 USC 1581(a)
"Authorizes Customs officers to:
1. Board vessels
2. Examine the documents aboard
3. Conduct seizures
4. Make seizures
5. Make arrests
6. Enforce customs laws of the U.S."