Electronic Theses and Dissertations


The Perceived Effectiveness of Container Security at Seaports Along the Gulf Coast

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.C.J. in Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Michael Wigginton

Second Advisor

Linda Keena

Third Advisor

Carl Jensen


With approximately 90% of the world's goods shipped via cargo containers, it is vital for the security of these containers to be complete and effective. However, given the volume of containers transiting U.S. seaports, the task of providing complete security is complicated and, arguably, impossible. Nevertheless, the data analyzed throughout this study indicates that the current container security paradigm can be enhanced to accommodate the significant workload. The research conducted throughout this study provided perceptions that were indicative of a security environment that can be and must be improved. More specifically, the data revealed that the biggest threat facing containers was their susceptibility to be exploited for smuggling purposes. All of the participants in this study acknowledged the use of a layered security framework at their respective ports. However, this "layered" approach was insufficient to scan even a fraction of the containers imported to the U.S. As a result of the limitations associated with container security, the majority of containers receive no form of inspection until their arrival to U.S. seaports. This makes it impossible to inspect and scan 100% of containers. With that in mind the participants in this study believe that container security could progress, but without knowledgeable, proper and efficient use of technology, no such improvement is achievable. Furthermore, cooperation from the rest of the global seaport community is essential for container security to advance. Finally, the insurmountable task of providing a dynamic and resilient security framework hinges on Custom and Border Protection's ability to facilitate and collaborate with the entire seaport community.

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