U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah R. Saldaña travelled to The Hague this week to sign an agreement to join Europol's Focal Point Checkpoint, which targets people smuggling networks.
ICE's request to join the network was unanimously approved on Feb. 23. ICE is also working together with Europol's Operations Department in the areas of intellectual property rights, child sexual exploitation and cybercrime. The joint cooperation has already led to various successes, such as the seizure of 292 internet domain names for selling counterfeit products, and the recent rescue of a sex abuse victim.
Director Saldaña said, "I am proud of the relationship ICE has with Europol. Together, we've pursued counterfeiters, we've hunted child predators and now we will target smugglers intent on threatening the security of both the United States and Europe."
Director Rob Wainwright of Europol added, "ICE joining Europol's Focal Point Checkpoint is another step in strengthening international police cooperation with ICE and other international partners, as we have to stand together in fighting the increasing emerging threats from organised crime. This agreement with ICE will allow for increased cooperation in the fight against people smuggling, and aid to provide a proactive law enforcement response to this tragic crime".
In continuation of this agreement, ICE will also discuss its future possible participation in the newly established Joint Operations Team (JOT) Mare, a long-term initiative focused on combating irregular migration in the Mediterranean. The initiative specifically focuses on organised criminal groups who are facilitating the journeys of migrants by ship across the Mediterranean Sea to the EU.
ICE is the third U.S. entity to join FP Checkpoint; U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center are also participants.