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What kind of services can the Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) provide to law enforcement agencies?

The LESC, located in Williston, Vermont, operates 24 hours day, 365 days a year, to supply real-time assistance to law enforcement officers who are investigating or have arrested foreign-born individuals involved in criminal activity. The LESC is a critical link between ICE and the men and women of America’s law enforcement agencies.

The LESC assists law enforcement agencies around the nation in two basic ways.

  • Agencies seeking immigration status information on persons they are investigating may use the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS) to electronically request such information from the LESC. The LESC has responded to more than 1.3 million requests in the last two fiscal years. In addition, the LESC offers an enhanced response to agencies in certain circumstances. During an enhanced response, LESC technicians and special agents will communicate with the police department and/or the investigating officer to offer additional information and service. An enhanced response may be based on information gathered by the police officer and included in the remarks section of the IAQ, or on information developed at the LESC.

  • The LESC is also ICE’s single point of contact when law enforcement agencies receive a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) hit on a possible immigration violator. NCIC is a computerized index of criminal justice information (i.e.- criminal record history information, fugitives, stolen properties, missing persons). It is available to federal, state, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies and is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A "hit " occurs when an officer runs an individuals name through NCIC and the name is a match to a wanted person entered into the database by ICE. The "hit" is a name match only and must be confirmed by the officer by contacting the LESC. Special agents at the LESC work with the officer to help confirm the hit within the NCIC-required 10-minute time period. There are nearly 160,000 immigration violator records entered into NCIC.

How does an agency place an inquiry to the Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) through the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS)?

Electronic access to the LESC is available in all 50 states through the Immigration Alien Query (IAQ) screen on NLETS. Automated responses are returned to the requesting agency’s ORI. An ORI is a code that identifies the requesting law enforcement. Officers may enter remarks on the case in their inquiry and, in certain circumstances, the LESC will provide the agency with an enhanced response. Each IAQ is researched by a highly trained technician who searches ICE's proprietary databases containing approximately 100,000 million records. The technician then writes a concise response and sends it back to the requesting agency.

What type of immigration violators are entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC)?

The Immigration Violators File is maintained by highly trained staff at the Law Enforcement Support Center. The file contains previously deported aggravated felons, immigration fugitives and individuals with ICE criminal warrants.

What happens when a law enforcement agency encounters an alien wanted by ICE?

When the Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) and the officer confirm a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) hit, in all cases a special agent at the LESC will place an immigration detainer on that suspect. More than 12,000 ICE detainers have been placed by the LESC in the past two years. In cases involving an illegal alien, agents may also place detainers on the individuals. This has occurred 15,472 times in the last two years. In both scenarios, the LESC also notifies the local ICE office of all information essential to the case.

Does the Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) provide any other essential services?

Yes. In addition to direct support to law enforcement, the LESC is also home to the Department of Homeland Security’s Tip Line. The Tip Line was started by DHS in the summer of 2003. Since the line started operations, Tip Line operations have received more than 126,000 calls from the general public reporting violations of immigration and customs law. Approximately half of those calls contain enough information to be forwarded to ICE field offices for further evaluation. Many significant prosecutions and apprehensions involving federal and local law violations have occurred due to Tip Line information.

Does the ICE Cyber Crimes Center investigate crimes such as “hacking” or online identity theft or fraud?

No. The ICE Cyber Crimes Center investigates the cyber aspect of customs and immigration crimes, including international money laundering, intellectual property rights violations, and the sale of fraudulent immigration documents over the Internet. Other federal agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, investigate domestic cyber crimes, such as “hacking” and identity theft.

Does the ICE Cyber Crimes Center investigate child exploitation crimes?

Yes. Whereas the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigates the distribution of child pornography through the U.S. mail systems and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigates domestic child exploitation crimes, ICE investigates those child exploitation crimes with an international border nexus. ICE’s child exploitation investigations are organized under Operation Predator, which is managed by the ICE Cyber Crimes Center. ICE is also the U.S. law enforcement representative to the Virtual Global Task Force, an international alliance of law enforcement working to make the Internet a safer place.

What are Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and why are these violations important?

Intellectual property is a creation of an individual's intellect. The law grants an individual ownership rights over this intangible property, just as the law grants ownership over material things. IPR violations are estimated to cost the U.S. economy approximately $200 billion annually. These huge potential profits attract organized crime and official corruption. Beside the economic damage to individuals and businesses that may occur, IPR violations can also affect America's public health and safety. For instance, counterfeit pharmaceuticals may not effectively treat a condition or may cause other harm through adulteration. Another example would be that of electrical devices with counterfeit markings that may pose shock or fire hazards.

How can you partner with ICE to counter Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations?

ICE investigates criminal violations of IPR laws. ICE hosts the National IPR Coordination Center, or IPR Coordination Center, which was established in 2000 as a unified U.S. government response targeting IPR crimes. The IPR Coordination Center is composed of investigative and analytical personnel from ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The IPR Coordination Center accepts allegations from public and private sectors concerning IPR violations via the ICE Web site: via an IPR complaint form; via e-mail at; and via a toll-free telephone hotline: 1-866-IPR-2060.

What is trade-based money laundering and how does ICE fight it?

Trade-based money laundering is an alternative remittance system that allows illegal organizations the opportunity to earn, move and store proceeds disguised as legitimate trade. Value can be moved through this process by false-invoicing, over-invoicing and under-invoicing commodities that are imported or exported around the world. Global trade is frequently used by criminal organizations to move value around the world through the complex and sometimes confusing documentation that is frequently associated with legitimate trade transactions. This method is also utilized extensively by Colombian drug cartels to repatriate drug proceeds commonly referred to as the Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE). Underground banking, unlicensed money service businesses, hawalas, etc., have all utilized trade to move value as settlement of a debt arising from remittances overseas. These organizations can accomplish settlement by purchasing commodities in one country and then transferring them to another country where the commodity is sold and the proceeds remitted to the intended recipient.

The ICE Financial and Trade Investigations Division established the Trade Transparency Unit, which is dedicated to the ongoing analysis of trade data that is provided through partnership with other countries' trade transparency units. ICE’s experience in trade-based money laundering investigations has shown that one of the most effective ways to identify instances and patterns of trade-based money laundering is through the exchange and subsequent analysis of trade data for anomalies that would only be apparent by examining both sides of a trade transaction. ICE is also working with international organizations such as the Financial Action Task Force to bring awareness to this increasing global issue.

Does U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) participate in the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF)?

Yes, ICE participates in the JTTF. As the second largest federal contributor to the JTTF, ICE is an integral task force member providing agents assigned to offices throughout the United States. ICE agents lend their immigration and customs law expertise in JTTF investigations in order to investigate, detect, interdict, prosecute and remove terrorists, and identify, disrupt and dismantle organizations that pose a threat to the American people.

What is ICE’s role in export enforcement and how does ICE's role differ from the roles of the Department of Commerce and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)?

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is the principal law enforcement agency to investigative violations of U.S. export control laws. The export control laws enforced by ICE include the Arms Export Control Act (military technology), the Export Administration Regulations (dual-use technology), the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (sanctions-related offenses) and the Trading with the Enemy Act. ICE uses its border search authority, and U.S. money laundering statutes as additional tools to prosecute export violators and assist in the identification and seizure of criminal proceeds of specified unlawful activities.

ICE’s Office of Investigations employs over 5,500 special agents stationed in over 200 field offices located throughout the United States. ICE agents enforce U.S. laws relating to the movement of people and goods into and out of the United States.

ICE also maintains 56 attaché offices located in 43 countries throughout the world. These foreign offices are responsible for conducting all investigations in foreign countries involving violations of U.S. export control laws and regulations.

The Department of Commerce has concurrent jurisdiction with ICE to investigate violations of the Export Administration Regulations and Export Administration Act.

The FBI has authority to conduct export enforcement investigations when a nexus to foreign counterintelligence (espionage, sabotage, etc.) is present.

What is the role of ICE's International Visitors Program (IVP)?

The IVP enables ICE to cultivate and maintain important contacts with foreign counterparts. Through these visits, ICE can enhance relationships with international law enforcement agencies and senior government officials resulting in more successful ICE investigations worldwide. Each visit requires relevant and comprehensive briefing materials, intensive coordination, prior approval, itineraries and/or agendas.

What is the Visa Security Program?

The Visa Security Program (VSP) is the ICE program responsible for the assignment of DHS officers to overseas visa issuing locations to enhance homeland security. The VSP mission is to enhance national security and public safety by preventing terrorists, criminals and other ineligible applicants from receiving U.S. visas, and by maximizing the visa process as a counterterrorism tool.

The visa process is the “first line of defense” in a series of layers constituting U.S. border security efforts. Other layers include transportation screening, maritime security, port of entry inspections, domestic investigations, intelligence, detention and removal efforts and others. By integrating the law enforcement capability of DHS into the visa process through the Visa Security Program, we can maximize the visa process as a law enforcement and counterterrorism tool. That is, we can identify and mitigate threats to U.S. security before they reach the United States, and generate law enforcement benefits over and above the “yes or no” decision of whether or not to issue an individual visa.

What type of training does ICE's Office of International Affairs provide overseas and who receives this training?

Law enforcement officials of foreign governments receive the following type of training:

  • Anti-Money Laundering and Financial Crimes
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Commercial and Trade Fraud
  • Export Control and Arms Trafficking
  • Child Exploitation and Cyber Crimes
  • Human Trafficking
  • Fraudulent Documents

What is ICE's role in the Container Security Initiative (CSI) program?

Under the CSI program, a small number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and ICE Special Agents are deployed to work with host nation counterparts to target all containers that pose a potential threat for terrorism. Its purpose is to protect containerized shipping from exploitation by terrorists. The ICE agents initiate investigations with their host nation counterparts to discover, disrupt, deter and dismantle terrorist organizations seeking to exploit the international trading system. The ICE attachés, located in over 56 offices worldwide, support the CSI program by providing management, investigative and administrative support to the CSI teams.

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