DHS Announces Operation to Target Criminal Smuggling Organizations
Release Date: April 27, 2021
WASHINGTON¬†‚ÄĒ¬†Secretary¬†of Homeland Security¬†Alejandro N. Mayorkas¬†today¬†announced¬†a new¬†counter-network targeting¬†operation¬†focused on¬†transnational criminal organizations¬†affiliated with¬†the¬†smuggling¬†of¬†migrants.¬†
"Transnational¬†criminal organizations put profit over human life, with devastating consequences," said¬†Secretary Mayorkas.¬†¬†"With the¬†help of our federal and foreign partners, we¬†aim to¬†cut off¬†access to that profit¬†by denying¬†these criminals¬†the ability¬†to engage in travel, trade,¬†and finance in the United¬†States.¬†We intend¬†to disrupt every facet¬†of the logistical network that these organizations¬†use¬†to¬†succeed."¬†
The new anti-smuggling effort, called Operation¬†Sentinel, is a collaborative effort with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the U.S. Department of State, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration¬†of the¬†U.S. Department of Justice.¬†
"Smuggling operations continue to lie and exploit vulnerable populations to promote their criminal enterprise ‚Äď the health and safety of migrants does not influence their lucrative ambition,"¬†said¬†CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner¬†Troy Miller.¬† "This operation is designed to disrupt every facet of the logistical network of these criminal organizations.¬† Our goal is to enhance the security of the U.S. border and help save the lives of those who are preyed upon by these unscrupulous criminals."¬†
"ICE agents combat cross-border criminal activity every day to ensure the overall safety, security and well-being of our nation,"¬†said¬†Acting ICE Director Tae D. Johnson.¬†"Collaborating on this endeavor with our partners amplifies our ability to disrupt and dismantle these criminal organizations that exploit and dehumanize people."¬†
"We are proud to be part of this effort to stop transnational criminal organizations and their networks from smuggling human beings across our borders," said¬†Acting Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Ian Brownlee.¬†
Partners in Operation¬†Sentinel¬†will¬†target all personnel and identifiable resources that¬†transnational criminal organizations¬†require to operate.¬†¬†Utilizing the¬†full¬†breadth of¬†domestic and foreign¬†authorities, data, analytic capability¬†and capacity,¬†Operation¬†Sentinel¬†will¬†map¬†the organizations'¬†networks;¬†target their¬†members,¬†associates,¬†and assets;¬†and employ a series of targeted actions and sanctions against them.¬†¬†Examples of these actions include:¬†
- Revocation of travel documents
- Suspension and debarment of trade entities
- Freezing of bank¬†accounts¬†and other financial¬†assets¬†tied to TCO logistical¬†networks.
Transnational criminal organizations¬†pose significant dangers to migrants as they¬†not only seek to profit from their¬†exploitation but also have little regard for their wellbeing,¬†exposing them to¬†violent encounters, injury, and death.¬†¬†These¬†organizations¬†are complicit in¬†sexual assaults,¬†human trafficking,¬†and¬†abandonment¬†of vulnerable migrants¬†‚Äď including¬†tender-aged children.¬†In Fiscal Year 2020, Border¬†Patrol located 250 migrants who¬†died during their journey.
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