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FBI director warns of 'dangerous individuals' coming across southern border

Amid a bitter election-year debate over illegal immigration, FBI Director Chris Wray told a Senate panel on Monday that dangerous individuals have entered the United States illegally at the southern border.

"We have had dangerous individuals entering the United States have a variety of sources," Wray said at the annual "Worldwide Threats" congressional hearings at which the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies testify.

"We are seeing a wide array of very dangerous threats that emanate from the border, " he said, citing drug trafficking in particular. "The FBI alone seized enough fentanyl in the last two years to kill 270 million people," he said.

PHOTO: FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the 'Annual Worldwide Threats Assessment' in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Mar. 11, 2024. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the 'Annual Worldwide Threats Assessment' in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Mar. 11, 2024. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

MORE: A 'rogue's gallery' of threats made against US since Hamas attack on Israel, FBI Director Christopher Wray says

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Wray, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, CIA Director William Burns, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Jeffery Kruse, NSA Director Timothy Haugh, and State Department Assistant Secretary Brett Holmgren testify before the House and Senate every year and detail threats the U.S. faces.

While Wray said there is "no doubt" criminals have entered the United States at the southern border, he said there is no specific plot.

"There is a particular network that has -- some of the overseas facilitators of the smuggling network have -- ISIS ties that we're very concerned about, and we've been spending enormous amount of effort with our partners investigating," Wray said.

Overall, he said, threats from various groups have reached a "whole other level."

"Even before October 7, I would have told this committee that we were at a heightened threat level from a terrorism perspective -- in the sense that it's the first time I've seen in a long, long time," he said. "The threats from homegrown violent extremists that is jihadist-inspired, extremists, domestic violent extremists, foreign terrorist organizations, and state-sponsored terrorist organizations all being elevated at one time since October 7, though, that threat has gone to a whole other level. And so, this is a time I think for much greater vigilance, maybe been called upon us," he said.

PHOTO: Intelligence chiefs testify during a Senate Intelligence Committee on worldwide threats, in Washington, Mar. 11, 2024.  (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Intelligence chiefs testify during a Senate Intelligence Committee on worldwide threats, in Washington, Mar. 11, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

The intelligence chiefs were asked about the threat from China, the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, as well as how artificial intelligence could influence the U.S 2024 election.

CIA Director Burns said U.S. support for Ukraine against Russian President Vladimir Putin has the "very real possibility of cementing strategic success for Ukraine and a strategic loss of relative importance for Russia."

Not providing that support, he said, would have widespread consequences.

"Without supplemental assistance it seems to me lies a much grimmer future, Ukraine, is likely to lose ground and probably significant ground in 2024. A senior Ukrainian member of the government, Burns said, told him that their men "fought as long and as hard as they could" but they just ran out of ammunition.

"I think the consequences of that are going to be felt not only by Ukrainians in European security, but across the Indo-Pacific," where he said the U.S. could be seen as walking away from support for Ukraine. "Not only is that going to feed doubts amongst our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific, it's going to stoke the ambition, so the Chinese leadership in contingencies ranging from Taiwan to the South China Sea," he said.

FBI director warns of 'dangerous individuals' coming across southern border originally appeared on abcnews.go.com