Remarks as Prepared by Acting Secretary Chad Wolf Announcing New Center for Countering Human Trafficking

Source: US Department of Homeland Security

Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for attending this special and important event. It is my distinct honor to be with you today as we formally launch the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking.

I want to thank our distinguished guests for joining us to mark this historic occasion. I would also like to pay special recognition to two remarkable women joining us –Tanya Gould and Chulita Havill, both survivors of human trafficking you’ll have the opportunity to hear from today. Your courage is an inspiration to all of us. I commend each of you for telling your story and helping us put an end to this horrific crime.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. There is no other way to say it.

The words are strong because the actions are evil.

The forms of exploitation, sex trafficking, forced labor, and domestic servitude that constitute human trafficking are antithetical in every way to the principles of human dignity that Americans hold dear.

Since the founding of DHS 17 years ago, we’ve been involved in fighting this scourge. But too often, these efforts, though well intentioned, were fragmented across the Department.

This Administration is putting an end to that. We are gathered here today to say—no more.

No more to the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and children.

No more to the victimization of innocent people through forced labor.

No more to the gross abuse of human rights and dignity resulting from this despicable crime.

The launch of the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking represents the investment of resources, attention, and time by this Administration to combat and dismantle all forms of human trafficking.

In January, this Administration took two important steps toward this goal. First, I announced the Department’s intention to create this Center during the event to release the DHS Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, the Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labor, and Child Sexual Exploitation.

Shortly thereafter, President Trump established government-wide efforts through his Executive Order on Combatting Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the United States, which called on government to “vigorously prosecute offenders, to assist victims, and to provide prevention education.”

Those are the aims of this Center. Led by ICE HSI, with staff, expertise, and legal authorities gathered from components across the DHS enterprise to include: Customs and Border Protection, the Blue Campaign, Coast Guard, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Transportation Security Administration. This integrated Center will be the first of its kind.

By aggregating these resources, the Center will serve as the central hub for victim support, investigative operations, intelligence and data collection and analysis, and training and outreach for law enforcement partners, civil society, and the public.

While previous federal government ventures have been unsuccessful, I am confident this new initiative has the right tools, personnel, and partnerships to effectively battle this menace.

When addressing any problem—particularly one of this magnitude and detriment—it is critical for the public to understand it. There are two predominant forms of human trafficking—sex trafficking and forced labor. Both involve the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of commercial sex act or labor from a victim.

The word “trafficking” often leads to the misconception that this activity requires crossing an international or state border. It does not. Most ICE HSI investigations involve human trafficking that is entirely domestic, with most victims being U.S. citizens.

Leveraging years of experience in combating these crimes, ICE HSI employs a victim-centered approach, placing equal value on the identification and stabilization of victims, as well as on the investigation and prosecution of human traffickers and child sex offenders.

This sort of victim centric approach to safety and justice is part of the very DNA of DHS. While counter-terrorism efforts are top of mind for many folks when they think of DHS, this Department does so much more. Each and every day, men and women within DHS are seeking to investigate and prosecute those who violate the human rights of vulnerable individuals trapped in the cycles of exploitation. DHS personnel’s steadfast commitment to safety, dignity, and justice cannot and will not be forgotten.

As threats to the homeland shift and evolve, the tools and actions of our Department must evolve, too. Human trafficking is one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time—and we will not stop fighting to eradicate it until every person is safe and free.

This new Center unites DHS’ existing efforts focused on this issue, including:

  • Investigative operations;
  • Interdiction of goods produced with forced labor;
  • Enforcing government procurement regulations;
  • Victim assistance and protection;
  • Intelligence to support investigations;
  • Outreach to law enforcement, the private sector, and NGOs;
  • Partnerships with survivors, victim service providers, corporations, law enforcement, and other government agencies;
  • Along with training on how to conduct investigations, maintain a victim-centered approach, recognize red flag indicators, and how and why to report suspicious or illicit activity to law enforcement.

I am proud to report sixteen DHS components and Headquarters Offices will be working in cooperation to pool our resources and staff the center.

The Center will monitor and support DHS counter-human-trafficking operations across the country and globally. The Center allows us to better investigate, interdict, and prosecute human trafficking crimes; identify and assist victims; and educate communities on prevention methods.

I am grateful to ICE Acting Director Tony Pham and HSI Executive Associate Director Derek Benner for spearheading the establishment and implementation of the Center.

As it’s being stood up, HSI’s Senior Executive Service Criminal Investigator Angie Salazar will be leading the Center. Angie has worked in the field, at headquarters, and overseas investigating human trafficking and supervising and developing related policy. Angie has dedicated her life to helping the survivors of this horrendous crime, and I believe there is no one better qualified to run the Center.

The staff members joining her include both law enforcement and non-law enforcement personnel who will support sex trafficking investigations, victim assistance, and outreach. While each of these members has a unique background and skill set, they are united in their passion for this tremendously important issue.

I commend each of these remarkable professionals. Thank you all for dedicating yourselves to this noble fight and continuing the pursuit of justice for the sake of survivors and prevention of any future victims of this terrible crime.

With the support of President Trump, the leadership of ICE, and cooperation across all of DHS, I firmly believe the Center’s work will play a critical role in one day bringing an end to human trafficking in America.

With that, let me welcome Dr. Julia Nesheiwat, the Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Homeland Security and Resilience at the National Security Council, who has played a critical role combatting the scourge that is human trafficking.

Keywords: Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, Combatting Human Trafficking
Topics: Human Trafficking, Secretary of Homeland Security

Met bears down on violence as part of annual Autumn Nights campaign

Source: United Kingdom London Metropolitan Police

The Met’s annual campaign to shut down anti-social behaviour and associated criminality, Autumn Nights, has begun. This year’s operation will focus on tackling the Met’s top priority – violence.

Violence and anti-social behaviour tend to increase at this time of year when the nights draw in earlier. A range of operational activity is planned over the three-week period to intensify existing efforts within the Met to prevent and bear down on violence in all its forms.

Officers will target the most dangerous offenders, maximise diversion opportunities and increase their presence through targeted patrols in areas expected to be affected by violence and anti-social behaviour. A number of intelligence-led automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) operations will also catch and arrest violent offenders on the move around the capital. This is supported by proactive work of our Violence Suppression Units, and Violent Crime Taskforce.

Robbery offences are also a significant contributor to knife crime and violence, and we continue to work hard to strengthen our response across London. For tips and advice to protect yourself from personal robbery, visit our webpage: https://www.met.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/personal-robbery/.

Our 12 Basic Command Units and Youth Engagement Officers will work with partners to engage with their communities and speak to vulnerable residents to offer them crime prevention advice. Our licensing teams will work with premises to reduce rowdy and disorderly behaviour. Community Safety Teams will carry out diversion work to help steer those at risk of offending away from crime.

If you’ve witnessed antisocial behaviour of any kind, report it using our quick and simple online tool: https://www.met.police.uk/ro/report/asb/asb-b/report-antisocial-behaviour/.

With Covid-19 restrictions in place, community events for Halloween and Bonfire Night unfortunately will not take place. We continue to ask the public to follow the current government guidelines in relation to gatherings.

Additional patrols across London will see officers engage with the public and, where necessary, take enforcement action against those who fail to abide by government restrictions.

Commander Jane Connors said: “This year has been challenging for the public and we are maximising on our priority of tackling violent crime during our annual Autumn Nights campaign.

”A cadre of officers from across the Met have planned various elements to prevent violence and anti-social behaviour; divert individuals away from becoming involved in such crimes; engage with our communities and carry out enforcement on the most dangerous offenders.

“For some time now, our top priority has been to decrease violence and this remains the case. We are working around the clock to target those causing the most harm to our communities.

“We believe it is important to do our bit to divert people at risk of making the wrong choices and going down the wrong path in life. A huge aspect of this seasonal activity will complement existing work to divert and support individuals away from criminality.

“We hope our communities can find alternative ways to enjoy the autumn festivities. We must remember that we are in the middle of a pandemic and we will continue to step in where necessary.”

The annual Autumn Nights campaign runs from Monday, 19 October until Sunday, 8 November.

Communities have a vital role to play in tackling violent crime and we urge anyone who may have information to tell us, so that we can tackle violence together. We need information about crime or those who carry a weapon, or those that exploit people for gain or revenge, while putting young people’s lives at risk. Community intelligence can be used to great effect to not only detect, but also prevent crime, keep London safe and save young lives.

For those not comfortable in speaking to the police, Crimestoppers is a totally, independent charity. They do not ask your name or trace your call. Anyone worried that a family member or friend might be involved in criminality, or vulnerable to people who may be violent, can visit KnifeFree or the NSPCC websites for help and advice. You might be able to help them find a way out.

U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey Announces Over $3.5 Million in Justice Department Grants to Combat Addiction Crisis

PHOENIX, Ariz. – United States Attorney Michael Bailey today announced awards of over $3.5 million in Department of Justice grants to fight drug abuse and addiction in Arizona. The grants were awarded by the Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and are part of more than $341 million going to communities nationwide.

“The addiction crisis has taken an enormous toll on America’s families and communities, eroding public health, threatening public safety and claiming tens of thousands of lives year after year,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “Through comprehensive measures taken by this administration, we have been able to curtail the opioid epidemic, but new and powerful drugs are presenting exceptional challenges that we must be prepared to meet. The Justice Department’s substantial investments in enforcement, response, and treatment will help us overcome these challenges and work towards freeing Americans from abuse and addiction.”

Illegal drugs and illicit drug use have claimed the lives of nearly 400,000 Americans since the turn of the century. Powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl are exacting an enormous toll on families and communities, and an emergence in the use of methamphetamines and other psychostimulants is drawing drug traffickers and driving up overdose rates. Three years ago, President Trump declared a Public Health Emergency and initiated a whole-of-government approach dedicated to ending this national tragedy. The Department of Justice has invested unprecedented levels of funding in combating the addiction crisis. The awards announced today build on those earlier investments.

“If we hope to defeat an enemy as powerful, persistent and adaptable as illicit drugs, we must be at least as determined and versatile, focusing our ingenuity and resources on curbing abuse and fighting addiction,” said OJP’s Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. “These grants will enable criminal justice officials and substance abuse, mental health and other medical professionals to pool their assets and bring the full weight of our public safety and treatment systems down on this epidemic that has already caused so much harm.”

Funding is made available through OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, National Institute of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The following organizations in Arizona received funding:

  • County of Yuma – $262,164
     
  • Gila River Indian Community – $500,000
     
  • Superior Court in Pima County – $499,524
     
  • Judiciary Courts of the State of Arizona – $750,000
     
  • Arizona Criminal Justice Commission – $817,487
     
  • Arizona Youth Partnership – $690,553
     

For a complete list of individual grant programs, award amounts, and jurisdictions that will receive funding, click here. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

RELEASE NUMBER: 2020-088_Opioid Grants

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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/ 
Follow the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, on Twitter @USAO_AZ for the latest news.

New Jersey Man Sentenced to 87 Months on Drug Conviction

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Thomas Critten, age 30, of Jersey City, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 87 months in prison for possessing and intending to distribute crack cocaine in St. Lawrence County.

The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and St. Lawrence County Sheriff Brooks J. Bigwarfe.

As part of his guilty plea, Critten admitted that on December 20, 2018, he brought 104 grams of grams of crack cocaine to Massena, New York, with the intent of distributing it.  Critten admitted he had hidden two bags of crack cocaine in his underwear, and that police discovered it during a search for an unrelated arrest.  Critten admitted that he was to deliver the crack to a house in Masenna, and was to be paid $1,000 for the delivery.  

Chief United States District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby also imposed a 4-year term of supervised release, to begin after Critten’s release from prison.

This case was investigated by the St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy Anderson.

Staten Island Man Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Charge

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Jen Wong, age 28, of Staten Island, New York, pled guilty today to possessing and intending to distribute 109 pounds of marijuana in Clinton County.

The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and Ray Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division

As part of his guilty plea, Wong admitted that on July 23, 2019, he transported three hockey bags containing 109 pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute the drugs in the Northern District of New York.  Wong admitted that he was heading south on Interstate 87 near Plattsburgh, New York, when he was pulled over by police.  Wong admitted that he had the hockey bags in the vehicle’s rear seat; the bags were full of multiple vacuum-sealed plastic bags of marijuana, totaling 109 pounds.

Chief United States District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby scheduled sentencing for March 2, 2021. 

Wong faces up to 5 years in prison and will be subject to at least 2 years of post-imprisonment supervised release.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

This case was investigated by the DEA and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy Anderson.

Brooklyn Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Charge

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Hailang Xie, age 25, of Brooklyn, New York, pled guilty today to possessing and intending to distribute 131 pounds of marijuana in Clinton County.

The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and Ray Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division

As part of his guilty plea, Xie admitted that on July 23, 2019, he transported four hockey bags containing 131 pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute the drugs in the Northern District of New York.  Xie admitted that he was heading south on Interstate 87 near Plattsburgh, New York, when he was pulled over by police.  Xie admitted that he had the hockey bags in the vehicle’s rear seat; the bags were full of multiple vacuum-sealed plastic bags of marijuana, totaling 131 pounds.

Chief United States District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby scheduled sentencing for March 2, 2021. 

Xie faces up to 20 years in prison and will be subject to at least 3 years of supervised release.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

This case was investigated by the DEA and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy Anderson.

Schenectady Woman Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Property

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Jody Lyons, age 53, of Schenectady, New York, pled guilty today to stealing the Social Security benefits of her deceased mother for several years after her mother’s death in January 2015.

The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and John F. Grasso, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration (SSA), Office of the Inspector General, New York Field Office.

As part of her guilty plea, Lyons admitted that beginning the month of her mother’s death, she withdrew and spent Social Security benefits that continued to be deposited into her mother’s bank account until August 2018, when the SSA learned of the death and benefit payments ceased.  Lyons also admitted that she withdrew and spent her mother’s Social Security benefits despite knowing what the benefits were, that the benefits were intended for her mother, and that Lyons was not entitled to the money.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 5, 2021 before United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino.   Lyons faces up to 10 years in prison, up to 3 years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.  Additionally, Lyons has agreed to pay $95,961.00 in restitution to the SSA.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.

This case was investigated by the SSA Office of the Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian S. LaRochelle.

Coast Guard medevacs man 100 miles off Cold Bay, Alaska

Source: United States Coast Guard

News Release

 

U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska
Contact: 17th District Public Affairs
Office: (907) 487-5700
After Hours: (907) 654-4112
17th District online newsroom

Coast Guard medevacs man 100 miles off Cold Bay, Alaska

KODIAK, Alaska – The Coast Guard medevaced a man from a fishing vessel Tuesday approximately 100 miles northwest of Cold Bay.

An Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the man at 6:55 a.m. and transferred him to awaiting emergency medical services in Cold Bay for further transport to Anchorage.

Watchstanders in the 17th District command center in Juneau received the request for the medevac from the fishing vessel Defender at approximately 7 p.m. Monday for a 26 year-old crew member who was experiencing eye and head pain.

The Defender was 170 miles from Cold Bay during the initial call for help. Watchstanders directed the launch of the Jayhawk aircrew from the Forward Operating Location Cold Bay and diverted Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley as a secondary asset to assist if needed.   

“With the cutter within range of the Defender, it provided another layer of safety and help if needed during the search and rescue mission,” said Lt. j.g.  Mathew Naylor, 17th District Command Duty Officer. “Having multiple assets on scene maximizes our chances of a successful rescue.”

On-scene weather at the time of the rescue was an air temperature of 41 degrees, 20-mph winds and visibility of about 10 miles.

 

-USCG-

Coast Guard medevacs man 100 miles off Cold Bay, Alaska

Source: United States Coast Guard

News Release

 

U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska
Contact: 17th District Public Affairs
Office: (907) 487-5700
After Hours: (907) 654-4112
17th District online newsroom

Coast Guard medevacs man 100 miles off Cold Bay, Alaska

KODIAK, Alaska – The Coast Guard medevaced a man from a fishing vessel Tuesday approximately 100 miles northwest of Cold Bay.

An Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the man at 6:55 a.m. and transferred him to awaiting emergency medical services in Cold Bay for further transport to Anchorage.

Watchstanders in the 17th District command center in Juneau received the request for the medevac from the fishing vessel Defender at approximately 7 p.m. Monday for a 26 year-old crew member who was experiencing eye and head pain.

The Defender was 170 miles from Cold Bay during the initial call for help. Watchstanders directed the launch of the Jayhawk aircrew from the Forward Operating Location Cold Bay and diverted Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley as a secondary asset to assist if needed.   

“With the cutter within range of the Defender, it provided another layer of safety and help if needed during the search and rescue mission,” said Lt. j.g.  Mathew Naylor, 17th District Command Duty Officer. “Having multiple assets on scene maximizes our chances of a successful rescue.”

On-scene weather at the time of the rescue was an air temperature of 41 degrees, 20-mph winds and visibility of about 10 miles.

 

-USCG-

An indictment was unsealed in federal court today charging San Diego resident Stephen Glenn McLeod with knowingly aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft on August 28, 2020

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY October 20, 2020

SAN DIEGO – An indictment was unsealed in federal court today charging San Diego resident Stephen Glenn McLeod with knowingly aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft on August 28, 2020.

McLeod was arraigned in federal court today. At the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro told U.S. Magistrate Allison Goddard that McLeod is alleged to have pointed a laser pointer at a San Diego Police Department helicopter multiple times while participating in a protest on August 28, 2020.    

U.S. Magistrate Judge Goddard set a personal appearance bond of $35,000, guaranteed by two financial responsible adults.  The next hearing is scheduled for November 20, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino.

“We support everyone’s right to peacefully assemble and protest.  Aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter, however, is highly dangerous and a serious violation of federal law,”
said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer.

“When aimed at an aircraft, a beam of light from a handheld laser can illuminate a cockpit, disorienting and temporarily blinding the pilots,” said Suzanne Turner, Special Agent in Charge of FBI San Diego. “It’s a federal felony that the FBI and our law enforcement partners take very seriously.”

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 20CR3106JLS

Stephen Glenn McLeod                                                  Age: 38           San Diego

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Aiming a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft – Title 18, United States Code, Section 39A

Maximum penalty: Five years in prison, $250,000 fine

AGENCY

San Diego Police Department

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Joint Terrorism Task Force

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.