U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials held a large-scale readiness exercise at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry Wednesday that caused delays for pedestrian and vehicle traffic crossing the border.
At around 5:57 p.m., CBP officers were seen stopping vehicle traffic and stretching concertina wire across vehicle traffic lanes of the border entry.
CBP personnel outfitted with rifles and riot shields followed and formed a second barrier across lanes behind the concertina wire.
Projectile canisters producing smoke were seen flying through the air behind the line of CBP officers. As the smoke filled the crossing area, the squadron of officers was heard shouting commands like "Move!" and Get Back!"
Happening now: We see #CBP agents getting ready for their security drill at Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Lanes will close down at 6pm briefly as they hold another exercise @nbcsandiego https://t.co/H2ezMKTC6D pic.twitter.com/NwCvGY2qWU— Melissa Adan (@MelissaNBC7) January 31, 2019
The agency warned beforehand that travelers “should be aware of high visibility operations.”
A voice over a loudspeaker informed travelers in English and Spanish that a drill was underway and said people trying to cross the border would be processed shortly.
About ten minutes into the drill, officers began removing the concertina wire while the line of armed guards stood guard behind them.
The line of officers dispersed minutes later and vehicle traffic was let through the border starting at around 6:15 p.m. CBP said the exercise would last about 15 minutes.
“CBP is continually assessing the capabilities of our facilities and has been making — and will continue to make — necessary preparations,” the agency said. “Preparations include participating in operational readiness exercises and the mobilization of resources, as needed, to ensure the facilitation of lawful trade and travel.”
The Otay Mesa Port of Entry is one of the busiest commercial crossings on the U.S.-Mexico border.
To check wait times at this border crossing, visit CBP’s website.