U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Executive Associate Director Peter Edge and Europol Director Rob Wainwright met today in The Hague.
The two officials signed an agreement for US ICE to join Europol’s Focal Point1 Sustrans, which targets organised crime networks involved in money laundering.
US ICE Executive Associate Director said: “Simply put, when we follow the money, we find criminals. Some criminal enterprises focus on smuggling and cybercrime, others drugs and arms trafficking, but all of them - including those engaged in terrorism finance – try to manipulate financial systems for their gain, which is another avenue we can use to disrupt and dismantle their operations. Today’s signing signals HSI’s commitment to the international cooperation that is crucial to law enforcement success in this arena.”
Director Wainwright also underlined the added value that the agreement would bring to Europol’s endeavours to fightorganised crime: “In this technological era, nations around the world cannot tackle criminality on their own. Money laundering is a complex and relentless offence which requires a concerted international response. I am therefore delighted to see such an important partner join our continued efforts to build a borderless law enforcement community.”
ICE has already been working together with Europol's Operations Department in the areas of facilitation of irregular migration (including the Joint Operational Team Mare), intellectual property rights, child sexual exploitation and cybercrime.
This cooperation has already led to various successes, such as the arrest of 18 persons for smuggling and abusing migrants, the seizure of nearly 1000 internet domain names that were selling counterfeit products, the arrest of over 300 individuals suspected of distributing and producing child sexual exploitation material and the rescue of a sex abuse victim.
Europol’s Focal Point Sustrans was opened in 2001 and is currently one of the oldest and widest Focal Points at Europol. It provides support to EU Member States’ cross-border investigations into the money laundering activities of transnational criminal organisations. This has been done through the establishment of a pan-European platform to integrate, process and analyse all types of dedicated financial data (ongoing investigations, suspicious transaction reports, cash seizures, international transfers, etc.). All 28 EU Member States and 52 Europol third partners are part of this project.
US ICE is the second U.S. entity to join Focal Point Sustrans; the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (US IRS) is also a participant.
- 1 A Focal Point is an area within an information processing system offered by Europol which focuses on a certain phenomenon from a commodity based, thematic or regional angle e.g. trafficking in human beings, facilitation of irregular migration, drug trafficking etc. It allows Europol to provide analysis, prioritise resources, ensure purpose limitation and maintain focus on expertise
- 2 Australia, Eurojust, Iceland, Switzerland and the United States of America (US IRS)