AST Digital Magazine July/August 2016 - Page 58

Volume 6 July-Aug 2016 Edition one weapon. The case is being handled by the Colombian Attorney General’s Office. Operation Mesoamerica-(Image: ICE Charles Reed) The following ICE Attaché offices participated in the multinational investigation: Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, Mexico, Brazil, and El Salvador. HSI Washington, D.C., HSI New York and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) also assisted with the investigation. The following agencies conducted the arrests and are handling the prosecution of the cases: the Guatemalan National Police, the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office, the Salvadoran National Police, the Salvadoran Attorney General’s Office, the Panamanian National Police, the Panamanian Attorney General’s Office, the Costa Rican National Police, the Costa Rican Attorney General’s Office, the Honduran National Police and the Honduran Attorney General’s Office. In a separate human smuggling case not linked to Operation Mesoamerica, the ICE Attaché Colombia supported the Colombian National Police in a human smuggling investigation that yielded 14 arrests in five Colombian cities and the execution of seven search warrants. Evidence uncovered during the investigation revealed that the TCO in Colombia was responsible for smuggling individuals primarily from Bangladesh through Colombia and Venezuela into the United States. During the operation, officials seized the equivalent of $6,000 USD in Colombian and Venezuelan currency and Operation Mesoamerica (Image: ICE Michael Johnson) Operation Mesoamerica comes under ICE HSI’s Operation Citadel, a multinational effort that focuses on increasing partner nation capacity to identify, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), and other support networks involved in human smuggling throughout South and Central America, and Mexico. The scope of the operation includes cross-border enforcement actions with partner nations, document and media collection at ports of entries and along illicit smuggling routes, and traditional training events. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Joint Task Force for Investigations (JTF-I) provided investigative and analytical support for Operation Citadel. JTF-I is one of three new inter-component task forces established as part of DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s unity of effort initiative to better integrate DHS components’ capabilities, authorities and expertise. Through its International Operations, HSI has 65 58