U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has joined Europol’s Focal Point Sustrans, which targets organized crime networks involved in money laundering. ICE’s Executive Associate Director Peter Edge and Europol Director Rob Wainwright met yesterday in The Hague, The Netherlands.
“Simply put, when we follow the money, we find criminals,” Peter Edge told reporters. “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. [This] 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 endeavors to fight organized 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 is the second U.S. entity to join Focal Point Sustrans; the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is also a participant.
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 organizations.
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