RISS Supports Agencies in Combating Human Trafficking
Almost every country around the globe is affected by human trafficking. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are approximately 21 million victims of human trafficking globally.
Legislation aimed at combating trafficking in persons (TIP) is a top legislative agenda item for the 114th Congress. TIP is a serious human rights concern in the United States, and it is believed to be one of the most productive areas of current criminal activity.
The WSIN RISS Center recently published a special bulletin titled “Human Trafficking Trends in the WSIN Region.” The bulletin states that human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States, second only to drug trafficking, and can take many forms, including forced labor, debt bondage, and sex trafficking and prostitution. Human trafficking is an estimated $32 billion per year industry.
RISS offers important information sharing and intelligence resources via the RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET) as well as numerous and diverse investigative support services. Partner and other criminal justice resources are also accessible via RISSNET. In addition, RISS offers law enforcement agencies and officers a full range of support services that can assist with all types of criminal investigations, including human trafficking investigations.
RISS analytical staff members have assisted investigators with human trafficking investigations by analyzing telephone records and identifying patterns, commonalities, and contacts. Analysts have provided information on victims of human trafficking and identified relationships and connections among the individuals. In addition, analysts have reviewed investigative and arrest reports, along with social media and other open source resources.
In 2014, MAGLOCLEN staff assisted the New Jersey State Police with a human/sex trafficking task force that was established for the 2014 Super Bowl. Staff provided investigative information on suspects who were involved with the transportation of subjects and/or the subjects who engaged in commercialized sex services.
In April 2013, investigators with the New Jersey Department of Human Services and investigators assigned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Innocence Lost Task Force requested MAGLOCLEN surveillance equipment. The task force, composed of investigators from Atlantic, Camden, and Mercer Counties in New Jersey, investigated allegations of prostitution and human trafficking. The task force has returned to their families approximately five females, who had been reported missing by family members. The task force continues to utilize MAGLOCLEN surveillance equipment to assist in its investigations.
Additional RISS resources and services available to assist investigators with human trafficking investigations include:
- Case organizational aids and courtroom presentations, such as crime scene diagrams, timelines, link analysis, cell tower mapping, financial analysis, and photographic enlargements.
- Audio and video enhancements and analysis of seized electronic devices, such as computers, cell phones, cameras, tablets, and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices for evidence and accompanying documentation.
- Training on new and emerging topics, such as human trafficking and social media.
- Critical law enforcement publications, such as the Human Trafficking: Modern-Day Slavery Exploits the Vulnerable, Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States, and Out of the Shadows: A Tool for the Identification of Victims of Human Trafficking.
- Confidential funds to provide for allowable investigative expenses.
- RISS Secure Hosted Websites, such as the Nevada Human Trafficking Task Force.
These are services and resources that some agencies and officers may not otherwise receive and can have a direct impact on the successful resolution of a human trafficking investigation, as noted in the success story below.
A traffic stop for a minor violation escalated into a major investigation of human trafficking. The Austin, Texas, Police Department contacted the ROCIC intelligence research staff to identify four suspected traffickers. The results of the investigation included the rescue of 28 human trafficking victims and the arrests of two suspects, with two additional arrests pending on federal smuggling charges. Initially, the traffic offender produced false identification. At the police station, after being fingerprinted, the suspect gave his real name and admitted that a large shipment of human cargo was expected to be delivered the next morning. ROCIC staff was supplied with the names of the four suspects and ran numerous searches on various database resources. A comprehensive report was produced for each suspect, including previous addresses, relatives, associates, booking records, and phone numbers. The suspects were positively identified and apprehended, and the victims were rescued.
These are just a few examples of how law enforcement has utilized RISS services to assist with human trafficking investigations. To view additional human trafficking-related and other shared successes submitted by agencies and officers, visit www.riss.net/Impact.
TAVISS-Protecting Government Officials
Criminal justice information sharing strengthens public and officer safety and local, state, and federal agency staff relationships across the nation. RISS is a key player in numerous federal and nationwide initiatives, which has resulted in an unprecedented level of information and intelligence sharing among the criminal justice community. More than 1,000 federal agencies are members of RISS. One of RISS’s federal partners is the United States Secret Service (Secret Service).
The Secret Service is responsible for providing physical protection to the nation’s highest elected leaders, foreign heads of state, and other government officials and protecting the integrity of our national financial systems.
One component of physical protection is threat assessment to identify potential risks from individuals who may threaten or exhibit inappropriate behavior toward government officials. From its own experience and research, the Secret Service understands the importance of information sharing among agents and officers assessing potential risks to their protectees or other public officials. Secret Service research, for example, has shown that some individuals who either harmed or attempted to harm the President considered other targets, including state and local officials. In addition, attackers considered the targets’ accessibility and levels of security when choosing their targets.
The Targeted Violence Information Sharing System (TAVISS) database is administered and maintained by the Secret Service. The data in TAVISS is populated by participating law enforcement agencies with information obtained through their own threat investigations. A TAVISS record is entered for individuals who have a history of threatening or inappropriate behavior directed at protected public officials. The information collected in the system is intended to be shared with participating law enforcement agencies to assist them in mitigating potential threats to protected persons. Authorized users query TAVISS for names of individuals who come to their attention because they have attempted to initiate contact with a protected person in an inappropriate or threatening manner. When there is a hit, the querying agency can contact the TAVISS record owner to receive information on that TAVISS member’s history with the individual.
TAVISS contains the names and selected identifiers of persons of interest. A TAVISS hit does not provide criminal history, mental records, or other information regulated by disclosure restrictions. Instead, the querying agency is directed to contact the proprietary owner of a relevant record and arrange for the exchange of intelligence information according to each agency’s protocols and policies. The database also helps the originating agency of the record maintain awareness of an individual’s interaction with other agencies and protected officials.
Any U.S. law enforcement agency with permanent protection responsibilities for a public official may request TAVISS membership. Each contributing agency remains the sole proprietor and owner of its own data. The Secret Service will determine an agency’s need to know; therefore, all agencies requesting TAVISS membership must contact the Secret Service directly.
There is no cost to access TAVISS. However, because access to TAVISS is available via the RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET), each agency must become a RISS member. For additional information on RISS membership, contact your in-region RISS Center or visit www.riss.net. For more information regarding TAVISS, contact the Secret Service at TAVISS@usss.dhs.gov or
RISS Enables Information Sharing Among Public Safety Professionals
RISS Automated Trusted Information Exchange
Every day, police officers, firefighters, and public safety officials put their lives at risk to protect our communities. With constant worldwide events occurring daily, the ability to provide effective public safety is a significant challenge. More than ever, communities are faced with greater responsibilities and increased demands while resources are limited. During a time of crisis, community leaders and public safety professionals need secure and timely communications tools that enable them to share information and communicate effectively across disciplines and jurisdictions.
RISS recognized the critical need for first responders to communicate with one another, both within their areas of responsibilities and with other public safety partners. As a result, RISS developed and continues to operate the RISS Automated Trusted Information Exchange (ATIX). RISS ATIX provides a secure platform for law enforcement, public safety, first responders, and the private sector to share secure information.
RISS ATIX participants select a community group based on their responsibilities. Currently, there are more than 40 community groups, including local, county, state, federal, and tribal levels of emergency management, law enforcement, and government, as well as public and private utilities, transportation, chemical manufacturing, private security, environmental protection, banking and finance, and hospitality industries. New community groups are added to RISS ATIX as the service expands to encompass more entities involved in local and national security.
The ATIX resources contain specific information for each community. RISS ATIX enables community members to securely collaborate within their own area of expertise, with additional communities, and with law enforcement partners. RISS ATIX resources include:
- The secure RISS ATIX web pages contain general and community-specific information, links to restricted and public websites, and other sources of disaster, terrorism, and other public safety and law enforcement information. Users are encouraged to submit public safety and law enforcement-related content to the web pages.
- The Discussion Forum provides secure online conferences for users to collaborate and post public safety and law enforcement information.
- The ATIX Document Library provides informational and educational materials on a variety of topics.
- Secure e-mail enables the distribution of alerts and related information. Secure e-mail can be directed to specific users and/or to an entire RISS ATIX community group. In addition, users can securely exchange encrypted e-mail with all ATIX e-mail addresses and with other RISS e-mail addresses.
RISS ATIX can be utilized for secure communications and the collaboration of multiple officials in a concentrated effort across community and geographical boundaries, such as a special task force and/or the planning, execution, and evaluation of special events. Below are just a few examples of how ATIX can be used.
RISS ATIX is effective in assisting fire departments and personnel to address emergency situations, share information, and work collaboratively. When appropriate, entities have sensitive or restricted information to share with first responders. Those documents or bulletins can be posted to a private conference on the discussion forum. An e-mail to appropriate communities can be sent, directing recipients to the newly posted information. This is an excellent method for quickly notifying a variety of law enforcement and public safety individuals on critical issues.
Together, RISS and fusion centers are filling information sharing gaps while ensuring trusted, secure connectivity. RISS has made significant strides in partnering with fusion centers across the country and have proved that fusion centers can capitalize on the current services and resources offered by RISS. RISS ATIX can aid fusion centers in bringing together various public safety-related disciplines to communicate and share information.
School officials have also used RISS ATIX to help gather, post, and discuss policies, information, and best practices among school officials and other communities. Users can directly share messages, attachments, links, and other sources of information. ATIX can also be utilized in emergency situations involving schools and universities.
The threat of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other emergencies requires rapid response and comprehensive planning. RISS ATIX is a secure, collaborative tool to help solve communications challenges and is available at no cost to qualified law enforcement agencies and public safety entities, as well as to those in the private sector.
If you are an official or an executive staff member from an organization involved with planning and implementing prevention, response, mitigation, and recovery efforts regarding disasters or other public safety and law enforcement efforts, contact your in-region RISS Center for additional information about how to connect to RISS ATIX or visit www.riss.net.
WHAT FEDERAL PARTNERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE REGIONAL INFORMATION SHARING SYSTEMS (RISS) PROGRAM
“Together, RISS, the HIDTAs, and the National Network of Fusion Centers form the backbone of a very powerful criminal intelligence and information sharing platform that operates throughout the country.”
Office of the Program Manager, Information Sharing Environment
“RISSNET is one of the most resilient networks for helping protect our nation, and I am very proud to announce this partnership, which gives users expanded access to the information they need to help keep our nation safe.”
Information Sharing Environment Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
“With the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, these maps will play a critical role with our protective mission and logistical planning for events in the Philadelphia area.”
“The RISSafe deconfliction monitoring system which provides our investigators with abundant insights into the various links, records, maps, and 24-hour monitoring is of extraordinary value. When pursuing fugitives, intuition, and awareness add to the safety blanket your service provides. It is critical to ensure that merging forces do not clash with each other. Too often support services do not receive the acclaim and laudatory comments from those in the field. I can tell you, we appreciate your service!”
U.S. Marshals Service, District of Hawaii
“I really wish that I would have known about your organization years ago. You are really great to work with, and we have really benefited from the information we get.”
U.S. Probation Office, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
“This product is extremely useful to myself and the Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA). It was used when discussing the case. A very high-quality product. It helped to visualize the crime scene and clarified questions by the AUSA and other investigators.”
United States Postal Inspection Service, Washington, DC
“The RISS staff has always been helpful in providing me with local contacts for sharing information.”
Security Fraud Division-Nebraska, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
“Thanks so much for your invaluable assistance in the prosecution of this case involving an individual preying on children. The perpetrator of the crime is now in jail awaiting sentencing.”
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
“RISS’s ‘one-stop’ support was excellent and extremely fast and professional. RISS is a wonderful asset to have available. The quick turnaround was awesome.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
“There have been countless instances where RISS’s deconfliction services have prevented ‘blue-on-blue’ conflicts, as well as connecting investigators from different agencies that are investigating the same suspect(s).”
“Contact with RISS is now a part of the first order of business when conducting criminal inquiries.”
“RISSafe was used in Arizona to ensure officer safety and that the operation was not compromised by other agency activities being conducted within the same areas of interest. In addition, the RISSafe analysts were extremely helpful and always friendly.”
Tempe, Arizona, Police Department and
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Phoenix, Arizona, respectively
“RISS has continued to provide excellent customer service and immediate notification(s) for any case overlaps.”
“Outstanding service and information.”
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
“The equipment we borrowed from RISS was extremely helpful to our investigation.”
Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor
“I have attended several RISS training courses, including technical equipment and criminal intelligence courses. The training I received from RISS has assisted me in my work in law enforcement for many years.”
Homeland Security Investigations-Missouri, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
“The RISS funding allowed us to successfully pursue this major drug case. The help was essential.”
North Shore Gang Task Force (Massachusetts), Federal Bureau of Investigation
“The partnership between the Alabama Law Enforcement Coordinator (LEC) and the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Alabama, was the primary reason that approximately 180 officers in the Opelika, Alabama, area have now been trained on the Below 100 mission. If not for the LEC’s unlimited contacts and willingness to cohost the event along with the Opelika Police Department, this event would not have taken place.”
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mobile, Alabama
“More consistent use of RISS for deconfliction would increase the effectiveness of our investigating agents and would promote agent safety.”
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California
For more quotes and shared successes regarding RISS, visit www.riss.net/Impact.
Analytical Assistance Helps Solve Multiple Residential Burglaries
MAGLOCLEN analytical assistance provided to the South Brunswick Township, New Jersey, Police Department contributed to the success of a burglary investigation. The South Brunswick Township Police Department provided the MAGLOCLEN analytical staff with a large amount of data from two communication data warrants, in connection with approximately 40 residential burglaries that had occurred in its jurisdiction. The MAGLOCLEN staff searched through the cell tower and the phone call data and provided the South Brunswick Township Police Department with detailed information that assisted in solving 12 residential burglaries.
Information Connects Dots in Fraud Case
The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, in Illinois, requested assistance from the MOCIC intelligence research staff in a fraud investigation. Authorities had several apparently unrelated victims in a benefits fraud case. The MOCIC staff obtained information that connected the victims and helped authorities develop a potential suspect. The victims, who were residents in an assisted-care facility, were particularly vulnerable, and the suspect was an individual who was involved in their care. As a result of the investigation, authorities arrested five suspects, who all entered into plea agreements.
Detective Arrests Caregiver in Theft Investigation
The Stonington, Connecticut, Police Department received a complaint of missing jewelry and silver and the unauthorized use of a credit card from an elderly couple. The value of the larceny was more than $103,000. The suspect was a home health caregiver who had been employed by the couple. A detective began investigating the caregiver and discovered, through the RISS Property and Recovery Tracking System (RISSProp), that the suspect had sold the stolen items at various pawnshops in New London, Groton, and North Stonington, Connecticut, and Warwick, Rhode Island. In all, more than $35,000 worth of jewelry and silver was located. Unfortunately, all of the items had already been disposed of, so no recovery for the victims was possible. Based on that information, an arrest warrant was obtained for the suspect, charging her with first-degree larceny. She was arrested by the Stonington Police Department. A detective credited NESPIN and the RISSProp Database for helping to bring this case to a timely and successful conclusion.
$2 Million of Marijuana Recovered
The Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department served a search warrant at an apartment complex in Phoenix. Before going to the location, officers contacted the RMIN RISSafe Watch Center to enter the information into RISSafe. The search warrant resulted in the recovery of 3,300 pounds of marijuana, valued at $2,000,000.
Analytical Products Instrumental in Conviction of Kidnapping and Robbery Suspect
As a result of several maps produced by the ROCIC analytical staff depicting the complicated movements of the defendant and his victims, the defendant was convicted by jury trial on two counts of first-degree kidnapping and one count of first-degree robbery. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The perpetrator abducted two victims in Oxford, Alabama. One victim escaped and the other was assaulted and shot but survived. The trip spanned the four counties of Calhoun, Talladega, Clay, and Cleburne. The deputy chief investigator of the District Attorney’s Office, 7th Judicial Circuit, stated, “Because of the multiple counties involved, it was going to be difficult to explain to the jury about the different locations where things transpired and the route of travel. ROCIC provided us with a large map of the entire area involved and two smaller maps of specific areas we wanted to focus on. This was instrumental during the trial in explaining the events to the jury so they would understand the area involved and how they are geographically situated.”
RISSIntel Search Identifies Suspect in Drug Investigation
The Alaska State Trooper Western Alaska Narcotics Team began a joint heroin importation investigation with the Kodiak, Alaska, Police Department. A suspect was identified as a result of a RISS Criminal Intelligence Database (RISSIntel) search, which linked the individual to drug investigations in San Diego, California. Officers in San Diego were contacted, which has resulted in an ongoing joint investigation between the Kodiak Police Department; the San Diego, California, Police Department; and the Alaska State Troopers.