BICE Issues Press Release on Increased Coordination with State and Local Law Enforcement

Press Release

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Phone: (202) 514-2648

August 19, 2003

Homeland Security Supporting Local Law Enforcement
Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC)

Williston, VT - Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary of Border and Transportation Security in the Department of Homeland Security, joined Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Assistant Secretary Michael Garcia to announce expanded capabilities of the Department’s Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in investigative work.

“One of the top priorities of the Department of Homeland Security is sharing information with first responders and local law enforcement,” said Hutchinson. “Homeland security is not, and cannot, be a federal issue only. Law enforcement in Washington must be able to coordinate with law enforcement in every state, and vice-versa. The men and women of the LESC are on the cutting edge of the federal effort to share critical enforcement information with state, county and local and even international law enforcement officers”

The LESC, established in 1994, serves as a national enforcement operations and intelligence center by providing timely information regarding the status and identities of aliens suspected, arrested or convicted of criminal activity. The LESC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, gathering information from eight Service databases, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Interstate Identification Index (III) and other state criminal history indices.

Joined by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chief Harold Hurtt, Chief of the Phoenix Police Department and President of the Major Cities Chief Association, and Commissioner Kerry Sleeper, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety, Hutchinson and Garcia toured the LESC facility and outlined new resources available to the LESC.

The merging of 22 agencies and bureaus into the Department of Homeland Security provides new access to law enforcement databases that will now be used by the LESC to greatly broaden its intelligence-gathering capabilities.  For example the LESC now has access to intelligence information from the former INS, Customs and the Federal Protective Services databases, moreover new Homeland Security Databases such as SEVIS, NSEERS and US Visit databases are also accessible through the LESC.  This will improve its ability to provide timely information to state and local law enforcement agencies around the nation, as well as to international enforcement agencies.

Additionally, the LESC is currently expanding its call center to respond to its increased responsibilities and workload.

Law Enforcement Technicians and Special Agents at the LESC will use these new intelligence resources to conduct investigative research and analysis on aliens who have been arrested or are being investigated by other law enforcement agencies.  

“The LESC has developed a reputation nationwide for providing rapid, accurate information to police,” said Garcia. “This facility will help the Department of Homeland Security coordinate with police everywhere on investigations ranging from critical national security cases to helping apprehend alien absconders.”

On August 8th, 2003, Francis Wanjiru, a non-immigrant native of Kenya was arrested by police in Lawrence, Massachusetts on the charge of raping a 14 year-old girl in a Lawrence Apartment.  On August 12th, 2003, Wanjiru pled innocent to the charge of statutory rape in a Massachusetts court.  He has been ordered to remain in custody on $25,000 bail.  Wanjiru is believed to be infected with the AIDS virus and local police are continuing to investigate the possibility that there may be other victims.  This arrest was made possible through the operations of the LESC.

The LESC received a call on the DHS tip line (1-866-DHS-2ICE), reporting that Wanjiru was engaging in statutory rape.  The LESC performed a database check on Wanjiru that reported intelligence that Wanjiru had entered the United States as a student at Saginaw State College in Detroit, Michigan.  A check of the SEVIS database did not reveal a record of Wanjiru and it was found that he was in the United States illegally after overstaying his initial visa from 2000.

Based on the information gathered by the LESC and through an ICE investigation, ICE Special Agents contacted the Lawrence, Massachusetts Police Department and placed a detainer on Wanjiru.

After Wanjiru is finished with his local court process, ICE’s Detention and Removal Officers will place him into Removal Proceedings with the Immigration Court.

DHS coordination with law enforcement around the country has skyrocketed since September 11, and with the additional resources becoming available will make the facility even more critical to law enforcement and national security investigations.

With one quarter still remaining in the fiscal year, the LESC has already responded to 480,000 investigative inquiries from federal, state, county and local police agencies in all 50 states. That surpasses by more than 50,000 inquiries the total handled in all of 2002 and is expected to surpass 600,000 by year’s end. 

So far this year LESC investigative analysis has positively identified more than 2,300 aliens, in the custody of local police, who had been deported from the US and illegally re-entered. Re-entry after deportation is a federal crime.

“In most cases, an initial analysis on the individual’s immigration status is in the hands of the police officer in less than 10 minutes,” said Garcia. “This is an outstanding example of the federal government sharing information with local agencies which leads directly to the assistance of local police operations.”
In addition, the LESC is a critical link in Operation Predator, the ICE investigative program aimed at arresting and prosecuting child sex predators, including those who can be deported from the country. Effective prosecution requires coordination between local and federal law enforcement that the LESC facilitates. The DHS nation-wide toll free telephone number for the public to report information about child sex offenders and others who put children at risk is answered at the LESC. 

In the past few weeks the line has received 57 calls, 14 of which have led to cases that were turned over to the appropriate agency for investigation.  The toll free number, 1-866-DHS-2ICE, is monitored 24 hours a day by the Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC), which will funnel leads to the appropriate ICE component(s) or police agency in a timely manner.

The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the primary
Investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security and was established to bring a unified focus to the enforcement of U.S. immigration and customs laws, with the principal goal of preventing violations by terrorists and other criminals who threaten the nation's security.

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Cite as AILA Doc. No. 03081946.

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