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10/21/2011

New forensic lab helps ICE intensify investigative efforts to solve crimes

HSI special agents gather data off a computer at the new forensic lab in Boston
State-of-the-art technology uploads information off a cell phone
State-of-the-art technology uploads information off a cell phone

BOSTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced the dedication of an expanded new state-of-the-art forensic laboratory in Boston Friday. This facility will assist federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities in New England with a wide range of forensic investigative support in cases that are often complex, and require significant examination and analysis.

"Whether it's an examination of computers in cyber crimes or fraudulent travel documents in an international human trafficking ring, this facility has the investigative keys to unlock the mysteries of crime," stated Bruce M. Foucart, HSI special agent in charge in New England. "This lab also illustrates our professional commitment to develop the strongest evidence possible to successfully prosecute these cases."

The forensic lab will help prepare investigators as they team with other state and local investigative experts, as well as prosecutors from U.S. attorney's offices in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont. Several other federal, state and local law enforcement authorities have expressed their support of efforts to strengthen investigative techniques to remain competitive with the ever-changing world of scientific technology.

"This facility, and more importantly, the expertise of the agents who are responsible for conducting the daily examinations and analyses, enhances ICE's ability to successfully solve crime and to bring those responsible for it to justice," said Foucart.

The new forensic lab will support the work of ICE HSI special agents and other federal, state and local law enforcement authorities, including those who investigate crimes as part of the Document & Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) in Boston, one of 18 cities in the U.S. where task forces have been established.

The lab will also support the work of its Boston-based cyber crimes group and investigations of trans-border production and distribution of images of child abuse, as well as individuals who travel abroad to engage in sex with minors. The lab employs the latest technology to collect evidence and track the activities of individuals and organized groups who sexually exploit children through the use of websites, chat rooms, newsgroups and peer-to-peer trading.

As Internet access continues to expand, the forensic lab brings the full range of ICE HSI computer and forensic assets together in a single location to combat such Internet-related crimes as:

  • Possession, manufacture and distribution of images of child abuse;
  • International money laundering and illegal cyber-banking;
  • Illegal arms trafficking and illegal export of strategic/controlled commodities;
  • Drug trafficking, including trafficking in prohibited pharmaceuticals;
  • General smuggling, including trafficking in stolen art and antiquities and violations of the Endangered Species Act;
  • Intellectual property rights violations, including music and software;
  • Immigration violations; and
  • Identity and benefit fraud.

The forensic lab dedication comes on the heels of a presidential proclamation earlier this month announcing the eighth annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), which has been recognized by state and local governments, as well as industry and academia. During October, ICE promotes efforts to engage public and private sector stakeholders, as well as the general public, to promote a safe, secure, and resilient cyber environment.

October also marks the first anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security's Stop.Think.Connect campaign, an ongoing national public awareness effort to engage and challenge Americans to join practice and promote safe online practices.

Individuals and businesses can follow a few simple steps to keep themselves, their identities, and information safe online:

  • Set strong passwords, and don't share them with anyone;
  • Install updates to keep operating systems, browsers, and other critical software optimized;
  • Maintain an open dialogue with your children aboutInternet safety;
  • Limit the amount of personal information you postonline and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely; and
  • Be cautious about what you receive or read online – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.