Fusion centers play a unique role in protecting their communities, informing decision making, and enhancing information sharing activities among law enforcement and homeland security partners. The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) helps the National Network of Fusion Centers to develop and implement their capabilities by leading federal interagency efforts to share information and products, conduct training, deploy personnel, and provide connectivity to classified and unclassified systems. These 2012 success stories and best practices illustrate the value of the national network of fusion centers in preventing, protecting against, and responding to criminal and terrorist threats.
Fusion Centers Collaborate to Support Arrest of Narcotics Suspects
Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center and Texas Joint Crime Information Center, November 2012
In November 2012, the Public and Commercial Narcotic Enforcement Team (PACNET), a Regional Task Force supported by the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, requested support from the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center (OCIAC) in obtaining photo identification of three subjects flying to a Southern California airport. These individuals were suspected of transporting large amounts of drug-related cash and money orders. In order to identify additional information pertaining to the suspects, the OCIAC leveraged experts across the National Network of Fusion Centers to obtain a driver’s license photo of one of the suspects from the Texas Joint Crime Information Center (JCIC).
The collaborative response and information provided by the OCIAC and JCIC assisted in the task force officer’s ability to recognize the suspects as they disembarked the aircraft, resulting in an arrest, and the seizure of cash and money orders. This example demonstrates the importance of connectivity across the National Network of Fusion Centers, which provided task force officers with critical information in real-time that they otherwise would not have been able to access.
Fusion Center Recognized as “Most Notable Law Enforcement, Interdiction, Arrest or Counter-Terrorism Program”
Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center, November 2012
In November 2012, Government Security News (GSN) recognized the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center (OCIAC) as an award winner in its 2012 Homeland Security Awards Program. GSN’s annual awards are distributed across 42 different homeland security categories for notable achievements in government programs, projects, strategies, and initiatives. These awards recognize achievements by information technology and physical security companies, as well as federal, state, and local government agencies. The OCIAC was recognized as the “Most Notable Law Enforcement Interdiction, Arrest or Counter-Terrorism Program” for its innovative efforts, including the integration of the fire service in the center’s operations and the membership of over 1,800 Terrorism Liaison Officers in the OCIAC’s area of responsibility representing law enforcement, fire service, public health, and private sector communities.
Fusion Center Coordinates New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Disaster Response
New Jersey Regional Operations and Intelligence Center, October 2012
Prior to and throughout the Hurricane Sandy, the New Jersey Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (ROIC) and New Jersey’s State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) used ROIC’s systems and networks to issue detailed situation reports with up-to-the-minute information about the locations of shelters, road closures, the status of public transportation vehicles, and the overall state of the disaster. Following the storm, the ROIC provided updated law enforcement-related information, maps, and other general public safety information – invaluable data used in the protection and rehabilitation of communities most severely impacted by the storm. Through the chiefs of police network, NJ ROIC personnel were deployed into the field and began the process of collecting information related to the condition of various municipal government buildings and infrastructure. The reports were developed to share with FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assist with prioritizing recovery efforts. Additional detail about the ROIC’s role in supporting Hurricane Sandy is located at: Fusion Center Coordinates New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Disaster Response.
Fusion Center Supports the Oak Creek Sikh Temple Active Shooter Incident
Southeastern Wisconsin Threat Analysis Center, August 2012
In August 2012, the Southeastern Wisconsin Threat Analysis Center (STAC) and its host agency, the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), provided analytic support in response to the Oak Creek Sikh Temple active shooter incident. Members of the STAC and the Joint Intelligence Operations Center (JIOC) determined that the suspect was a known affiliate of a white supremacist group. The shooting was handled as a Domestic Terrorism matter by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Milwaukee Division, which assumed the investigative lead. Both the FBI and MPD relied on STAC’s intelligence and investigative support throughout the incident. The STAC led development of joint seal FBI/fusion center products to further share information regarding the event. The STAC also leveraged the expertise from across the National Network of Fusion Centers to identify any additional leads or information pertaining to the suspect and incident.
Following the incident, STAC infrastructure and training personnel provided recommendations for instituting a security framework for other infrastructure in the AOR. In addition to providing recommendations on physical security enhancements and increasing physical security posture in the AOR, the STAC also led efforts to raise awareness of threat indicators and the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper law enforcement authorities. Furthermore, the STAC continues to build its relationship with the faith-based community to ensure continued prompt, efficient action is taken in response to any potential future threats.
Fusion Centers Support Money Laundering Investigation
South Dakota Fusion Center and North Dakota State and Local Intelligence Center, July 2012
In July 2012, a South Dakota law enforcement officer encountered two foreign nationals at a traffic stop who were in possession of over 100 stored value cards and a credit card reader. This raised suspicions because criminal organizations are known for stealing credit cards or credit card numbers and transferring money from them to stored value cards in order to circumvent customs reporting requirements because they can hold as much value as the vendor will allow and are easy to hide.
The officer sent a report on the individuals and their vehicle to the South Dakota Fusion Center (SDFC) in order to identify any supplemental information on the individuals. After conducting state and federal records checks in coordination with the North Dakota State and Local Intelligence Center (NDSLIC) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it was discovered that the individuals had ties to an active ICE transnational organized crime money laundering investigation involving stored value cards. It was also discovered that the individuals had previously unknown ties to North Dakota, Washington, and Florida. Through this collaboration, the SDFC and NDSLIC were able to provide previously unknown information about the individuals to ICE. Through this collaboration, the SDFC and NDSLIC were able to provide previously unknown information about the individuals to ICE which was used to document the suspects’ involvement in an ongoing criminal investigation and inform DHS Component agencies’ follow-on activities, including border inspections and visa adjudication. While the information supported an ongoing DHS criminal case, it also provided context to new trends in intra-U.S. illicit monetary instrument movements by foreign nationals exploiting U.S. visa benefits.
Fusion Center Supports Colorado Wildfire Response Efforts
Colorado Information Analysis Center, March – July, 2012
Between March and July 2012, Colorado experienced 25 major wildfires covering over 400,000 acres of land, resulting in the mandatory evacuation of over 44,000 people. Fighting the Colorado fires required every available state and federal resource and quickly became the focus of the entire country as other states and federal agencies provided resources to support the firefighting effort. Colorado’s fusion center, the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC), coordinated closely with the Colorado Division of Emergency Management (DEM) during the response to the wildfires, providing resources such as Mobile Analytical Response Teams, “Flash Reports,” and investigative support to promote effective information sharing, support executive level decision-making, and reduce duplication of effort. The CIAC developed the Mobile Analytical Response Team concept to deploy assets and provide on-scene intelligence support for all hazards incidents. The teams are comprised of Colorado State Troopers and CIAC intelligence analysts who embed with emergency management to share information and produce intelligence to support the incident command. Additionally, the CIAC utilized their fire analyst who resides within the fusion center to provide subject matter expertise for the Mobile Analytical Response Teams as they processed information and developed products. The coordination and partnerships between the Colorado State Patrol, the CIAC, and DEM served to promote information sharing and collaboration that protected lives and property in Colorado.
Fusion Center Coordinates Effort to Apprehend Fugitive in Argentina
Florida Fusion Center, June 2012
In June 2012, the Florida Fusion Center (FFC) received a request from the Florida State Attorney's Office for assistance in locating a defendant who was an Argentinian citizen and legal U.S. resident with multiple outstanding arrest warrants in Florida. The FFC coordinated with local police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and discovered that the defendant was en route to Buenos Aires on an airplane.
In preparation for action when the subject landed, the FFC connected ICE/HSI and the State Attorney’s Office to determine appropriate extradition processes. Through this collaboration, the State Attorney’s Office requested assistance from HSI/Buenos Aires, with help from HSI/Tallahassee, in detaining the subject in Argentina pursuant to an Interpol red notice, which describes a wanted person and asks that he or she be arrested with intent to extradite.
After being detained by Argentinian Airport Police upon arrival to Buenos Aires, Interpol Argentina placed the subject under arrest. The arrest was coordinated by HSI/Buenos Aires with substantial participation from HSI/Tallahassee, the Florida State Attorney’s Office, the Diplomatic Security Service, and Interpol.
Fusion Centers Collaborate to Assist in Opening a Homicide Investigation
Multiple Fusion Centers, March 2012
In March 2012 the Southern Nevada Counterterrorism Center (SNCTC) responded to a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Terrorism Liaison Officer request for assistance in verifying identification information obtained from a local inmate, who claimed to be a soldier of the Gulf Cartel. After vetting information presented by the inmate – to include details surrounding Gulf Cartel smuggling routes, tactics, techniques, and procedures, as well as specific information regarding an unsolved murder that took place in Texas several years prior – the SNCTC passed the information to the Texas Joint Crime Information Center (JCIC).
Based on feedback from the JCIC, SNCTC conducted a follow-up interview with the inmate, during where additional pertinent information was obtained and relayed to Texas. The follow-up interviews and continued research by the SNCTC led to the development of actionable intelligence that enabled the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department to open a new investigation on an unsolved murder in Texas. Information received was also shared with the Intelligence Community to aid future federal counternarcotics efforts.
Fusion Center Assists in Homicide Investigation
Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center, February 2012
In February 2012, Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) conducted an investigation of a homicide. A suspect was interviewed in connection with the crime and denied having had any contact with the victim around the timeframe of the offense. Cellular telephone records for both the victim and suspect were obtained and forwarded to Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center (PaCIC). Through the analytic support provided by the PaCIC, it was determined that the victim’s and suspect’s phones were at the same location at the same time, contradicting the suspect’s statement. Following this discovery, the PaCIC prepared a map depicting the GPS coordinates of both phones and disseminated the map to investigators, thereby leading to the suspect’s arrest for the homicide.
Fusion Centers Collaborate to Support Controlled Drug Seizure
Multiple Fusion Centers, January 2012
In January 2012, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the Port of Cincinnati intercepted an opium-laced package from Great Britain bound for South Lake Tahoe, California. Seized after a CBP K-9 alerted law enforcement authorities to the suspicious nature of the package, the shipment was x-rayed, tested, and confirmed as containing opiate residue. As a partner agency at the Kentucky Intelligence Fusion Center (KIFC), the CBP officer asked the KIFC for additional information to support a controlled interstate delivery. Subsequently, they worked with the Central California Intelligence Center (CCIC) to provide support for the delivery. The team utilized the Fusion Center’s trained Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO) network and the Central Valley California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) to identify local points of contact to arrange a successful delivery to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) Narcotics Task Force. Acting on a search warrant on the same day, they seized 28 lbs of dried opium poppy pods and $26,000 in cash. This successful operation exemplifies the collaborative power that field-based information sharing entities leverage across their distinct networks to benefit the Homeland Security Enterprise.