Far from being an agency solely dedicated to terrorism and immigration, the Homeland Security Investigations arm of U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement has its hands on a multitude of criminal dealings ranging from money laundering to sex trafficking.
“Our portfolio, if I could break it down, would be involving national security and public safety, and all of our investigative components really surround three things: illicit trade, illicit travel and illicit finances,” said David Marwell, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations office in Dallas, which oversees Oklahoma operations and counties in northern Texas.
The agency also acts internationally, with 68 offices in nearly 50 countries, Marwell said in a presentation to the media Monday.
In addition to national security issues, the agency investigates human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, contraband smuggling, money laundering, gang enforcement, and intellectual property rights violations, among other crimes.
“Whether it’s our narcotics-related investigations or it’s our counter-proliferation investigations or our intellectual property rights or gangs, we go after all these organizations where we feel it impacts them the most,” Marwell said.
“Nipping them in the pocket and going after their ill-gotten gains and their criminal proceeds is really who we are and what we do,” he said.
“Going after the illicit finances is paramount because nine times out of 10 these criminal organizations operate on greed and they do so for the value of the dollar,” Marwell said.
Homeland Security Investigations detectives work with other federal and local law enforcement agencies.
The Green Twister Task Force, which is used to seize the proceeds, assets and contraband possessed by people exploiting the country’s financial system, has made 416 criminal arrests and seized more than $7.3 million in currency.
The task force also includes officers from Oklahoma City and Bethany, as well as Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputies, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Secret Service.
Additionally, they have teamed up with Oklahoma City police, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to form the Metropolitan Violent Crimes Task Force.
Formed in May 2013, the task force has assisted in 74 arrests and 50 seizures of narcotics and firearms.
Crimes that Homeland Security Investigations unveil are prosecuted by the office of Sanford Coats, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.