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01/11/2011

Top Story: Miami's tactical dive team keeps our waterways safe

Miami's tactical dive team keeps our waterways safe
Miami's tactical dive team keeps our waterways safe
You'll find them sweeping the ocean floor, clinging to boats and searching bodies of water to protect precious cargo. Members of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Miami Tactical Dive Team have been swimming their way through Florida's waterways for the past seven years, braving alligators, fallen trees and manmade trash. Why? They help law enforcement agencies from the Miami-Dade Police Department to the U.S. military conduct investigations, solve cases and keep U.S. citizens safe.

What's the team up to?

  • In January 2011, the team discovered a human skull off Miami's coast. The skull has since been turned over to the Miami-Dade Police Department for further investigation.
  • In February 2007, the team conducted an underwater security sweep of the Port of Miami in preparation for the commissioning of the US Navy's new guided missile destroyer, the USS Gridley (DDG 101).
  • In December 2006, team members rescued a man who had suffered a seizure and had to be pulled from the water during the Lighted Boat Parade in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

ICE's Miami-based tactical dive team specializes in:

Antiterrorism and Maritime Dignitary Protection

The tactical dive team conducts underwater security sweeps of the sea floor, as well as underwater structures or structures that sit at the water's edge. Team members look for explosive devices and suspicious activity. Special sweeps are conducted when visiting dignitaries board boats, cross bridges or visit areas that border waterways.

Drug Interdiction

The tactical dive team also conducts searches for drug packages and evidence that traffickers may attempt to throw overboard. Routinely, team members conduct "hull searches" on the underside of container vessels, tankers, cruise ships and other boats. They are looking for hidden compartments, parasitic devices (drug pods) or quick release devices that may be used to jettison evidence or other contraband.

Underwater Crime Scene

As took place this year, the dive team often recovers evidence that can include anything from human remains to firearms and stolen vehicles. The team works in partnership with an array of law enforcement agencies and is trained to establish underwater crime scenes in rock quarries, canals and inland lakes.

Special Response Team Support

Tactical dive team members are trained in small boat operations and provide a marine platform for the ICE's Special Response Teams (SRTs) to conduct tactical ship boarding operations. The team often provides perimeter security for SRT members when they board a boat.

Maritime Surveillance

South Florida has many areas adjacent to waterways, such as marinas, docks and waterfront homes and buildings. Miami's tactical dive team members are specially trained to conduct maritime surveillance of boats, marinas, docks, and waterfront buildings where illegal activity is suspected.

Learn more about ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).