For this profile of the man who runs field operations for U.S. Customs across a huge swath of the West, I spent a few days talking with Customs agents and hanging out at the Port of Oakland, SFO, and a mail-inspection warehouse. It was totally fascinating.
The Port of Oakland is not a human-sized place.
Stacks of shipping containers stretch into the wide blue sky, monoliths of gleaming metal overhung by skyscraping cranes that methodically load crates on and off of cargo ships. Far below, semi-cabs and SUVs trundle to and fro, mice in the shadow of giants.
In one corner of the terminal, a Customs and Border Protection officer inhabits a specialized utility truck, peering into a few dozen of the 500,000 containers that pass through the California port each year.