In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign initiated a project to help law enforcement more effectively identify human trafficking victims, traffickers, and accomplices, in collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center. The project uses state-of-the-art technology to help federal investigators and prosecutors build stronger cases against human trafficking organizations.
The project led to ICE HSI’s recent arrest of 13 individuals in New York involved in human trafficking. The defendants are believed to be linked to larger, transnational networks of sex traffickers which lure women from Mexico by engaging them in romantic relationships and promising a better life in the United States. After the women are recruited, they are then forced into prostitution and become victims of human trafficking .
"With promises of a better life, the members of this alleged sex trafficking and prostitution ring lured their unsuspecting victims to the United States and then consigned them to a living hell – forcing them to become sex slaves living in abhorrent conditions, and using threats, verbal abuse, and violence – sexual and otherwise – when they resisted and even sometimes when they didn’t," said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "With their arrests Tuesday, the barbaric conduct in which these defendants allegedly engaged in order to make a profit has now been put to a stop, and they will be prosecuted for their alleged crimes and the women they enslaved will be able to put their lives back together."
Read more about this investigation at: http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1305/130501newyork.htm.
In the aftermath of the devastation caused by severe weather in Moore, Okla., the support and generosity shown by the American people for those in need underscores our compassion and resilience as a nation. Unfortunately, cyber criminals and hackers often exploit tragedies and other high profile news stories, reminding us of the importance of staying safe online.
Following incidents such as this, cyber criminals may use phishing attacks to capitalize on the number of users interested in finding out more information about the event. Newly created websites and Twitter accounts may try to take advantage of those looking to contribute to fundraising efforts while others could target individuals interested in simply learning more about the incident.
Here are a few ways you can protect yourself from online scams and phishing techniques:
- Exercise caution when clicking on email links or interacting with social media accounts that claim to represent the best interests of those involved in this incident.
- Only donate money to known, credible fundraising charities.
- When searching for updates on the story, it is safest to go directly to trusted news sources rather than conducting general search engine queries.
If you suspect you have received a phishing email, please send it to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on protecting yourself and your information online, visit www.dhs.gov/StopThinkConnect.
Editor's note: This was originally posted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on May 21.
Yesterday evening a large tornado touched down near Moore, Oklahoma, leaving massive destruction in its path. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and communities affected by the tornadoes.
At the direction of the President, Administrator Fugate is in Oklahoma to ensure all Federal resources are supporting our state, local, and tribal partners in life saving and safety operations, including ongoing search and rescue. Yesterday, President Obama declared a major disaster for the State of Oklahoma, making federal funding available to support affected individuals and families in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.
Federal assistance has been made available to support immediate response and recovery efforts, including:
- Preliminary damage assessment teams, comprised of representatives from the state, FEMA and the Small Business Administration, are on the ground and will begin assessments today, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.
- Three national Urban Search and Rescue Teams (Texas Task Force 1, Nebraska Task Force 1 and Tennessee Task Force 1) and an Incident Support Team have been deployed to support the immediate response efforts.
- One national and two regional Incident Management Assistance Teams are deployed to the state emergency operations center in Oklahoma City to coordinate with state and local officials in support of recovery operations.
- Two Mobile Emergency Response Support Teams are in Oklahoma to provide self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics, and operations support elements, to assist in the immediate response needs and additional teams are being deployed.
- Three Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams are scheduled to arrive later today into communities to perform the Assess, Inform, and Report (AIR) Missions, a tool to help federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners gather detailed information on the affected areas during the critical first hours, days and weeks after a disaster strikes. DSATs will address immediate and emerging needs of disaster survivors including: on-site registration, applicant status checks, on-the-spot needs assessments, and access to partners offering survivor services.
- FEMA activated the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., a multi-agency coordination center that provides overall coordination of the federal response to natural disasters and emergencies, to support state requests for assistance, and FEMA’s Region VI Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) located in Denton, Texas remains activated.
In addition to sharing the role of FEMA and our federal partners, I also wanted to share tips for those in the Oklahoma City area or looking to help survivors:
- If you’re in the affected area: We encourage residents in declared counties to register for FEMA assistance online or on your smartphone at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster applicants with a speech disability or hearing loss but use a TTY device, should instead call 1-800-462-7585 directly.
Follow the instructions from local officials and take the recommended protective measures to safeguard life and property while response efforts continue. Roads are very likely to be damaged or blocked by debris, and traffic jams slow emergency managers and first responders as they attempt to reach hard-hit areas.
- If you’re trying to get in touch with friends/family in the impacted area: Use the American Red Cross Safe & Well website (or mobile site), text messaging, and social media accounts to check-in with friends & family. After a disaster, phone lines may be congested, so using other communication methods can be more successful.
- If you’re not in the affected area, but are looking to help: For those looking for ways to help tornado survivors, remember: go through trusted organizations and only send goods that have been requested by local authorities. If you’re considering donating money, cash donations are often the best way to help. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters has a list of organizations that you can feel confident in making a donation to. You can also follow NVOAD on Facebook and on Twitter @NationalVOAD.
As President Obama said this morning, we will continue to bring all available resources to bear as we support those impacted by the deadly tornado. For ongoing updates on FEMA’s response efforts, follow @FEMA and @FEMAregion6 on Twitter or visit the Oklahoma tornado disaster page.
Posted by Dr. J.D. Polk, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs & Acting Chief Medical Officer
This week, we celebrate and honor the federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal Emergency Medical Service (EMS) practitioners serving communities all across the country. Every day, we see paramedics or firefighters, but many of us do not actually stop to think about what they do or thank them for their service until a crisis occurs. National EMS Week is the perfect opportunity to recognize and salute every man and women serving in emergency medical services for their tireless service.
There is a kinship and a bond that goes with being an EMS provider. When others are rushing out of the burning building, EMS personnel are rushing in, completely aware of the dangers they face. I have vivid memories from my own EMS days, from crawling on my back across the broken glass of the windshield in a smashed car, and attempting to intubate the entrapped patient, to the hum of the helicopter rotors as we circled a scene to assess the landing area, with the strobe lights of EMS vehicles illuminating the night sky. Each time, I pause at the sight of a black band around the badge of a firefighter, medic, or law enforcement officer, a reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Within the Department of Homeland Security, we have our own EMS personnel. Emergency medical services cover the spectrum of medical and trauma care and DHS EMS is no exception. In addition to providing the care offered by local EMS systems, most DHS EMS personnel are also law enforcement officers, providing workforce protection, basic life support, tactical combat care and care under fire. When DHS was created, and later the Office of Health Affairs was formed, we collaborated with the Emergency Medical Services Training and Education Advisory Committee to ensure sufficient resources are available, and ensure that DHS EMS systems are able to work together, and share resources and best practices. It is a job we take seriously.
EMS providers are on the frontlines in the homeland security enterprise. They are the first to respond, assess, and engage after an incident. To all EMS personnel, we thank you for everything that you do, and for your continued vigilance in the mission to save lives and ease suffering, and for your role in making our nation safer, more secure and more resilient.
As we celebrated National Police Week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) honored the men and women of the law enforcement community and remembered those who have given their lives in the line of duty.
This year, 321 names of fallen officers were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall, including five members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and one member of the U.S. Coast Guard who were killed in the line of duty. We honor the memory of Agents Leopoldo Cavazos Jr., James R. Dominguez, Jeffrey Ramirez, Nicholas J. Ivie, and David Delaney of the U.S. Border Patrol; and Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Edwin Horne III of the U.S. Coast Guard. They represent the spirit of public service and the best of our nation. We offer our condolences to their families, friends, and loved ones, who feel the great pain of their absence, and who, themselves, have made tremendous sacrifice.
Throughout National Police Week, we recommitted ourselves to the causes they served – upholding the rule of law, the pursuit of justice, and the protection of the American people. And we commit to always remembering the lives they led, the contributions they made, and the examples they set.
As National Police Week has concluded, please join me in recognizing the acts of selflessness and heroism performed by DHS and other law enforcement personnel in communities across the country, every single day.
Yesterday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held the Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza in Washington, D.C. The ceremony honored five Border Patrol agents who died in the line of duty during 2012 protecting the U.S., as well as the men and women of CBP and its legacy agencies who previously gave their lives while serving their country.
CBP’s Valor Memorial was created to honor the men and women of CBP and its legacy agencies who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The inscription on the memorial reads: “In honor of the officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and predecessor agencies who faithfully performed their duties and sacrificed their lives in protecting the borders, commerce and people of the United States of America.”
“Each year, we gather for the Valor Memorial ceremony to pay tribute to the service and the sacrifice of our CBP officers and agents killed in the line of duty,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Let us all remember that these men answered the call when their nation needed them. We will never forget the legacies of the agents.”
For more information about the Valor Memorial ceremony, and those who were honored, please visit here.
The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitoring and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) meets at the White House today, May 17, at 9:45 AM EDT. The annual cabinet-level meeting serves as an opportunity to coordinate government-wide efforts and discuss new initiatives to combat human trafficking.
During this year’s meeting, Acting Deputy Secretary Beers and other senior Administration officials will highlight the unprecedented interagency engagement, coordination, and commitment over the last year, from investing in victim services and law enforcement training, to strengthening government procurement protections, to building partnerships with civil society and the private sector.
If you are having difficulty viewing this video, please click here.
Last evening, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano attended the 25th Annual Candlelight Vigil, to honor the service and sacrifice of law enforcement professionals who lost their lives in the line of duty. Secretary Napolitano joined Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski, CBP Acting Deputy Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd and other law enforcement leaders at this event, held during National Police Week.
Today’s evolving threats transcend national borders and affect the security and economic prosperity of the entire international community. DHS collaborates with international partners to enhance information sharing, increase situational awareness, improve incident response capabilities and overall incident management, support law enforcement activities, and coordinate strategic policy issues. To foster our common economic and security goals, last week, the Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety Canada co-hosted the annual EU-US-Canada Expert Meeting on Critical Infrastructure Protection at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Critical infrastructure is the backbone of a country’s national and economic security and includes such key elements as power plants, chemical facilities, communications networks, bridges, highways, and stadiums. This year’s meeting underscored the value of expanding our collective knowledge base and enhancing understanding of approaches to key issues in critical infrastructure security. Since we began these gatherings four years ago, we have matured as a group in our thinking, concepts, and approaches to critical infrastructure resilience, and have learned from each other along the way. At our first meeting four years ago, we discussed basic elements of critical infrastructure protection such as partnerships as well as defining and identifying critical infrastructure. Earlier this month, during our fourth meeting, we delved into issues regarding aging infrastructure, public-private sector engagement, and the interdependence of physical and cyber critical infrastructure.
When we reconvene next year, we intend to further explore the effects of aging infrastructure and the nexus between physical and cyber infrastructure. Collaboration and information sharing with our international partners about critical infrastructure resilience builds on the Department’s approach to securing our nation’s critical infrastructure and further contributes to international security.
(Image courtesy of Forbes)
Today in New York City, Secretary Napolitano participated in the inaugural Forbes Women’s Summit, where she spoke as part of a panel discussion highlighting the growing influence of women in shaping policy.
"Today, there are women stepping into leadership roles in every part of public life,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Foreign policy, public safety, healthcare, the economy, job creation, education, and the environment: these are issues that affect everybody. At such a critical time for our country, the participation of women in our political process has never been more important.”