Surveillance Equipment Leads to the Arrest of Ten Suspects
for Distribution and Possession of Controlled Substance
MAGLOCLEN surveillance equipment was utilized by the New Jersey State Police; the New Brunswick, New Jersey, Police Department; and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice during a ten-month investigation involving a large drug distribution network. The equipment was used to document, record, and identify the alleged suspects. Numerous search-and-arrest warrants were executed, which resulted in the arrest of ten suspects who were charged with distribution and possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, possession of unlawful weapons, and conspiracy.
Recoveries and seizures included 1.5 kilos of cocaine, valued at $55,000; 2 pounds of marijuana, valued at $5,000; 12 ounces of Ecstasy (MDMA), valued at $3,400; 167 steroid tablets, valued at $4,175; $12,000 in U.S. currency; 35 firearms, valued at $17,500; and a pickup truck, valued at $10,000.
Specialized Investigative Equipment Assists in Identification of Coconspirators in Narcotics Distribution Ring
The Hennepin County, Minnesota, Sheriff’s Office borrowed MOCIC specialized investigative equipment to use in a narcotics investigation. The equipment assisted investigators in the identification of coconspirators in a narcotics distribution ring. As a result of the investigation, five people were arrested and authorities seized narcotics, including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, as well as cash, weapons, and a vehicle, all valued at nearly $900,000.
Telephone Record Analysis Assists in
Largest Drug Seizure in Maine’s History
The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency requested assistance from the NESPIN analytical staff in developing a telephone record analysis. A number of individuals were under investigation for the manufacturing and distribution of large amounts of marijuana in Township 37, located in Washington County, Maine. Seizures included 2,943 marijuana plants valued at $9 million. During the course of the analysis, 53 charts and 26 analytical reports were created to support the investigation and the prosecution of the defendants. The NESPIN staff testified in U.S. District Court in Bangor, Maine. After 14 hours of deliberation, a jury found two of the main defendants guilty of conspiracy to manufacture 1,000 or more marijuana plants, the manufacture of 1,000 or more marijuana plants, maintaining a drug-involved place, the harboring of illegal aliens, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute marijuana. The suspects face a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison, with a maximum of life, and a fine of up to $10 million.
A third main defendant was found guilty of conspiracy to manufacture 1,000 or more marijuana plants and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana. He faces a maximum of life in prison, with no mandatory minimum, as well as a fine of up to $10 million. One other defendant was found guilty of being an accessory after the fact to manufacturing 1,000 or more marijuana plants. A fifth defendant was found guilty of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and harboring illegal aliens. The jury also determined that forfeitures should include all property located in Township 37 that was a part of this case, the warehouse compound in Township 31, and a hunting camp in LaGrange, Maine. Jurors also determined that one of the main defendants should forfeit his interests in a local corporation that owns more than 80,000 acres around the state. This seizure was considered to be the largest in Maine’s history.
Officers Kept Safe After 750 Deconfliction
Operations Are Entered Into RISSafe
A senior analyst with the U.S. Marshals Service in Phoenix, Arizona, advised it would be conducting “Operation Justice VI,” involving more than 28 law enforcement agencies from Maricopa and Pinal Counties in Arizona. The U.S. Marshals Service provided the RMIN RISSafe Watch Center with approximately 750 deconfliction operations to enter into RISSafe. The Watch Center completed those entries-including resolution of numerous conflicts and management of the resulting intelligence database entries-within a few days, while maintaining its normal workload of approximately 100 operations daily. The roundup was successful and resulted in 260 arrests, with 323 warrants being cleared in this operation. Of those arrested, 139 were for drug offenses, 23 for sex offenses, 22 for aggravated assault, 8 for robbery, 7 for weapons offenses, 2 for kidnapping, and 1 for homicide. Authorities seized 11 firearms and marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine.
Intelligence Research Leads to Arrest
of Prolific Residential Burglary Suspect
Working diligently with the ROCIC intelligence research staff and investigators in other states, the Belle Meade, Tennessee, Police Department apprehended a prolific residential burglary suspect who was responsible for losses in excess of $1 million in its jurisdiction and losses of at least $6 million in five other states. The burglar later confessed that he targeted affluent homes in smaller jurisdictions because of their limited law enforcement resources.
Further investigation revealed a multitude of locations that the suspect had been researching for further burglaries. Some of the stolen items were priceless family heirlooms that had survived the American Civil War and the Holocaust. The investigator stated, “Without ROCIC, these resources would have been unavailable. These resources led to the discovery of evidence that had escaped prior discovery.” Using expertise and resources unavailable to the small agency, ROCIC provided the Belle Meade Police Department with not only valuable information but the location of a photograph that showed the suspect actually traveling to a burglary location. This information provided enough evidence for court orders to be sought and enabled the issue of search warrants in other states and the analysis of telephone records. The investigator went on to state, “ROCIC was our only resource to fill in the gaps, which has enabled us to conduct what has been the most successful investigation into the activities of this individual in his three decades of criminal activities.” The subject was indicted in Atlanta, Georgia, and awaits trial and has charges pending in other states.
RISSIntel and RISSafe Instrumental in Keeping Officers Safe
A detective with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force in Spokane, Washington, was conducting an investigation involving the distribution of OxyContin. The detective called the RISSafe WSIN Watch Center to submit an operation for deconfliction on an arrest/search warrant between 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The suspect resided in an apartment complex in Spokane. On the same day, a detective with the Spokane Police Department called the RISSafe Watch Center to deconflict a buy/walk for oxycodone that was scheduled between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. The Spokane Police Department’s suspect lived in the same apartment complex as the DEA’s suspect. The RISSafe WSIN Watch Center staff ran a query in the RISS Criminal Intelligence Database (RISSIntel) and determined that the suspects were entered as targets in separate investigations; however, they were also listed as criminal associates. This association had not been previously realized. Both officers were notified of the area conflict and the criminal association. Based on the information provided by the RISSafe WSIN Watch Center and agency collaboration, the Spokane police officers wrote a search warrant for the residence instead of proceeding with a buy/walk. The agencies coordinated on the service of two search warrants for both apartments in the same complex. Both suspects were arrested and cash and narcotics were seized. The detective stated, “Without RISSIntel, the two cases might never have been connected. RISSIntel and RISSafe were instrumental in keeping all of the officers who were involved safe and bringing both cases to a successful conclusion.”
The RISS Master Telephone Index (MTI) is an analytical database designed to compare and match common telephone numbers in law enforcement investigations from across the nation. When telephone numbers are queried or uploaded into MTI, matches from existing cases generate a hit report. This hit report includes the name of the agency, the agent’s name, the analyst’s name, and contact information. MTI makes it possible to find links in communication between suspects that otherwise would not have been found.
There are two ways to use the MTI. The first is to use the phone query feature. This enables the user to search (without storing) up to 50 phone numbers at one time. In grand jury situations, users are encouraged to store the phone numbers for optimum “hit” potential. The second way is to use the import feature. This provides users with the ability to search and store phone records, which are then compared against future cases.
MTI permits various types of information to be stored. For example, phone records from law enforcement cases that have been uploaded by analysts and officers and phone numbers from the RISS Criminal Intelligence Database (RISSIntel) can be stored. Extracted cell phone call history and contact information, as well as jail call information can also be stored in MTI.
During 2013, the Western States Information Network (WSIN), one of the six RISS Centers, implemented several MTI enhancements, resulting in improved features, such as:
- An integrated, interactive mapping of upload fields.
- A feature to provide Exceptions Alerts for records not processed during the upload process.
- The ability for users to view and verify the interactive field mapping prior to processing the upload file.
- The processing of all uploads in the background so that users can continue working.
- An alert feature to notify users when the upload process is completed.
WSIN is in the process of incorporating an MTI check box on RISSIntel to enable phone numbers to be submitted and queried against MTI during a RISSIntel query.
MTI requires that MTI users be registered in the database with an MTI user profile, which assists in communication once an MTI hit has been identified. Enhancements also included auditing for queried MTI records, cases, and alerts and limited visibility and search results on grand jury cases.
MTI is easily accessible from the RISSNET portal. Recently, an officer with the Parlier, California, Police Department said, “We compile phone numbers to run through MTI daily to assist us in developing PC for our pending gang injunction and RICO case. The WSIN site is my most powerful investigative tool besides an informant. I feel privileged to have access.”
The following is another example of how MTI has helped officers with the Del Norte County, California, Sheriff’s Department. The system matched 97 phone numbers in a marijuana investigation to various agencies’ cases throughout the nation involving homicide, prostitution, burglary, and other narcotics.
MTI is a critical investigative tool that can aid your agency’s efforts in identifying leads and resolving cases. We encourage analysts and officers throughout the United States to use the MTI as an additional source for your investigations. For more information regarding RISS or MTI, contact your in-region RISS Center or visit www.riss.net.
Safeguarding our nation’s law enforcement officers while maintaining the integrity of investigations is a top priority among law enforcement at all levels. More than 19,000 law enforcement officers have died in the service of our nation. In addition, more than 60,000 officers are violently assaulted each year.
These statistics serve as a reminder to all of us that continued diligence in ensuring officer safety is critical. Law enforcement officers risk their lives every day fighting to keep our streets and communities safe from drugs, violence, and gang activity. Investigating criminal activities often places officers in volatile and dangerous situations. Drug buys, reverse stings, surveillance, and other law enforcement activities create unpredictable and precarious conditions for officers. Considering the increasing incidents of law enforcement deaths and injuries because of criminal violence and recognizing the dangerous nature of some everyday law enforcement activities, officers must have the necessary information, resources, and tools to proactively identify, deter, and respond to criminal activities while maintaining their own safety and that of their fellow officers, as well as protecting our communities and citizens.
RISS recognizes the importance of ensuring the safety of all law enforcement officers and, in an effort to further enhance officer safety, developed the RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System (RISSafe). Blue-on-blue incidents occur when an officer inadvertently hurts or kills another officer. For example, officers from multiple agencies are investigating the same individual or organization at the same time and are not aware of each other’s efforts. RISSafe is a valuable tool to warn officers of potential conflicts prior to engaging in high-risk operations. Officers can now access RISSafe via their mobile device, literally placing officer safety in an officer’s hand.
Since inception, almost 900,000 operations have been entered into RISSafe, resulting in more than 300,000 conflicts identified. RISSafe has been featured in previous RISS Insider issues and can be accessed at http://www.riss.net/Resources/RISSInsider.
Member agencies have turned to RISS when a need emerged to develop a single secure location for users to access general officer safety information. Many websites exist, but some of those sites actually focus on methods of hurting officers or provide inappropriate, contradictory, outdated, or inaccurate information. RISS developed and deployed the RISS Officer Safety Website, which is designed to provide law enforcement and criminal justice users with timely officer safety information and a secure means to exchange and share officer safety-related information among agencies. The website has been designed to serve as a secure “one-stop shop” for law enforcement to access all types of officer safety-related information.
The RISS Officer Safety Website provides information on armed and dangerous subjects and awareness information regarding officer safety, narcotics, gangs, domestic terrorism, militias, border safety, and extremist groups or organizations that pose an officer safety threat. The website also contains information on concealment methods, provides a training calendar, and houses a video library.
Officers may contribute officer safety-related information to the website and provide feedback with comments and suggestions on how RISS can continue to enhance the website. Users are encouraged to visit the website frequently. Information is constantly updated, and new information is added to the site on a regular basis.
RISS also provides officer safety training and develops and distributes publications regarding emerging threats, such as sovereign citizens, domestic terrorism, and violent extremists.
Each loss of an officer results in long-term effects for the family and the law enforcement community, impacts case resolution, and can damage the public’s confidence. With more than 800,000 sworn officers throughout the country, ensuring officer safety and case integrity is essential.
RISS is proud to provide these officer safety tools and resources and remains committed to supporting and safeguarding our nation’s law enforcement. To learn more about RISSafe, the RISS Officer Safety Website, or any of RISS’s resources, contact your in-region RISS Center.
Senate Law Enforcement Caucus Briefing on the RISS Program
At the request of U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and U.S. Senator Roy Blunt
(R-Missouri), cochairs of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, RISS representatives were asked to participate in a briefing on July 30, 2014, titled “Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS): Keeping State and Local Law Enforcement Connected in the 21st Century.” Two notable goals of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus are (1) to raise awareness and support for beneficial law enforcement and criminal justice initiatives in the Senate and (2) to reinforce the federal commitment to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in their duties.
In addition to Senators Coons and Blunt, both of whom provided complimentary and well-informed remarks about the positive impact RISS has made in their home states, panelists included Matt McDonald, RISS National Coordinator; Gary Morris, Seaford, Delaware, Police Chief and MAGLOCLEN Policy Board member; Michael Snavely, MOCIC Executive Director; and Kerry Sleeper, Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), former Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety, and former NESPIN Policy Board member.
Director Snavely gave an overview of the RISS Program and how MOCIC services are utilized in Missouri. Chief Morris spoke about his role as a member of the MAGLOCLEN Policy Board and explained that he volunteers in this capacity because he believes RISS is a valuable and cost-effective program that law enforcement and public safety officers in Delaware cannot do without. Mr. McDonald spoke of his time as a Philadelphia police detective and how critical RISS services are to officer safety, investigative efficiency, and expanding smaller cases into some of the most successful cases in the history of Philadelphia crime. Mr. McDonald went on to speak about the national impact RISS has had on secured communications among all levels of law enforcement. The last panelist, Mr. Sleeper, was highly supportive in his remarks and spoke of his prior role as a NESPIN Policy Board member. He stated that RISS is a significant value-added program for state and local information sharing as well as federal information sharing.
The Senate Law Enforcement Caucus briefing was a great opportunity for Senate members and their staffs to learn more about the RISS Program. On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of law enforcement and public safety professionals in the nation who benefit from RISS, the policy boards, membership, and staff of RISS salute Senators Coons and Blunt and all members of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus for their strong support of the RISS Program.
Join RISS in Celebrating Its New Logo
Outreach and education is important to ensure that RISS users and partners stay informed of RISS’s services, resources, and efforts. The six RISS Directors established the RISS Outreach Committee (ROC) to discuss educational and outreach techniques and strategies, identify and recommend outreach priorities, and develop new or revise current educational products and materials. Since the ROC’s inception, it has developed numerous materials. Most recently, the RISS Directors asked the ROC to review, develop, and provide recommendations for a new RISS logo.
Changing an organization’s logo is not an easy task, but the ROC committee accepted the challenge. After numerous brainstorming sessions, conference calls, and edits, a new logo was developed and presented to the RISS Directors during their April RISS National Policy Group meeting.
One goal in developing the new logo was to illustrate how the RISS enterprise (or nationwide program) works in unison with the six RISS Centers. Some users and partners are familiar with their individual RISS Center name, while others know the RISS name but not necessarily the individual center names.
The new logo solves this problem by including the RISS and center names and a map of the six RISS regions. The red sphere symbolizes the unity and connection between the RISS Program and the six RISS Centers as well as the far-reaching impact RISS has across the nation.
The RISS Center Directors approved the new logo and, on behalf of the RISS Center policy board members and RISS staff, are proud to launch the new logo, effective July 1, 2014. For more information about the new logo, visit https://extranet.riss.net/public/3fbcf4bf-ad09-4cc5-8832-5598242aed27.
Informational Cards Now Available
The ROC has also been diligently working on six new informational cards that focus on some of RISS’s critical resources. Each card provides information on the individual resource, how the resource works, the benefits of using the resource, how to access or obtain more information about the resource, and an overview of the RISS Program. Each card also provides a map showing the six RISS regions and contact information for each RISS Center. The RISS Directors approved the new cards, and they are available as follows-
- RISS Criminal Intelligence Database (RISSIntel) (http://www.riss.net/Resources/RISSIntel)
- RISS7 (http://www.riss.net/Resources/RISSIntel)
- RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System (RISSafe) (http://www.riss.net/Resources/RISSafe)
- RISS Officer Safety Website (http://www.riss.net/Resources/RISSafe)
- RISS Automated Trusted Information Exchange (RISS ATIX) (http://www.riss.net/Resources/ATIX)
- RISS National Gang Program (RISSGang) (http://www.riss.net/Resources/RISSGang)
The RISS National Coordinator Spreads the Word
The RISS National Coordinator, Matt McDonald, represents RISS at the nationwide level, works with governmental officials and federal agencies to ensure optimal communication and coordination efforts among RISS and its partners, and fosters opportunities to present RISS solutions for information sharing, deconfliction, and investigative support. Mr. McDonald has participated in several meetings and provided presentations to educate attendees regarding RISS services and resources, including the FBI National Academy, the National Alliance of Gang Investigators Associations (NAGIA) meeting, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators meeting, and the Medicaid/Medicare Fraud Stakeholders meeting. Through these and other efforts, RISS serves as a trusted and proven partner and resource for our nation’s criminal justice community. The RISS National Coordinator can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember to find RISS at facebook.com/TheRISSProgram. Make sure to “like” the page to get updates and information about RISS.
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