Customs agents from Jacksonville will help with Super Bowl security in Tampa

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Acting as a layer of protection against potential threats at the Super Bowl, Jacksonville U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are in Tampa to help keep fans and players safe.

Federal security officials have been preparing for the event at Raymond James Stadium since the 2020 Super bowl in Miami.

While the crowd will be smaller due to COVID-19, Jonathan Johnson, who works in Jacksonville as an air interdiction agent, said that from a security perspective, it’s still all hands on deck in and around the stadium.

″Our primary mission here for customs and border protection of the Super Bowl is enforcement of the temporary flight restrictions that the Federal Aviation Administration places around the Tampa area for the big game,” Johnson said.

Making security more challenging is the fact that Raymond James Stadium isn’t far from the Gulf of Mexico and the Hillsborough River. The bodies of water are being monitored for any maritime threats.

Customs and Border Protection is supported by multiple local, state and federal law enforcement agencies who have been strategizing for months on how to protect the public. Command posts have been positioned throughout the city to allow local state and federal agents to communicate with each other.

“Here at the event, we are most concerned about all the threats -- the threats on the ground, the threats in the air and the threats coming in from the water,” Johnson said.

Johnson said 55 marine units from Jacksonville are helping in the massive undertaking in Tampa and he said more are available if needed. If the airspace above the stadium is violated at any time, federal agents are prepared to respond at a moment’s notice.

Another aspect of Super Bowl security that might not be as apparent: The efforts to stop human trafficking. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have helped to train airport workers on how recognize the signs of someone being brought into the country as a victim of sex trafficking.

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