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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit

3 HSI Intelligence employees honored with leadership award

WASHINGTON – Three employees assigned to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)/Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) Intelligence Office have been honored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Kirstin F. Grote and Erin G. Zappas were both awarded with a DHS Intelligence Leadership Award for their work on Project Global Shield. John W. Clifton also received the DHS Intelligence Leadership Award for his work as an intelligence research specialist at the National Bulk Cash Smuggling Center (BCSC). Both were awarded this distinction by DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Caryn Wagner.

Grote and Zappas are critical members of Project Global Shield, a multilateral law enforcement initiative targeting the illicit diversion and trafficking of explosive precursor chemicals used by terrorist and other criminal organizations to manufacture improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Cooperating with international partners is essential to protecting the global supply chain and the safety of American citizens. HSI is partnering with the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to form Project Global Shield. This aims to thwart the smuggling of precursor chemicals that could be used to build IEDs, which are weapons commonly used against American troops and U.S. interests overseas. In November 2010, Project Global Shield initially began as a pilot with more than 70 participating nations that shared information about 14 precursor chemicals. Based on its initial success and importance to multiple countries, the WCO's 177 members voted to continue Project Global Shield long-term in June 2011. This was the first time that the international community, as a whole, addressed the threat posed by these dangerous precursor chemicals. With real-time information and intelligence sharing, partners are now better equipped to identify whether or not shipments are legitimate.

"These two employees have shown exceptional leadership in their work, providing high quality, actionable intelligence products that were instrumental in providing leads to law enforcement personnel - both in the United States and abroad - as well as in shaping policy," said James Chaparro, director of HSI Intelligence. "Both have enhanced collaboration throughout DHS and beyond, leveraging HSI's intelligence capabilities to develop new relationships between our agency and our law enforcement counterparts dedicated to addressing the IED threat. I know that these two employees will continue to dedicate themselves to furthering our mission of protecting the homeland and U.S. interests abroad."

The work of the Project Global Shield intelligence team produced time sensitive and actionable intelligence products that directly resulted in seizures of explosive precursor chemicals in multiple locations around the globe, and several arrests. The seizure of the explosive precursor chemicals helped to save the lives of countless numbers of coalition forces and civilians. This team has also helped to drive best practices and policy changes among participating nations in the WCO to strengthen the global supply chain.

Clifton, who works at the BCSC, has proven himself as an outstanding leader in the intelligence field. Clifton has singlehandedly developed three high-priority and highly complex money laundering investigations in the last two years. 

"The breadth and scope of these investigations is unprecedented at HSI," added Chaparro. "He has worked tirelessly with field special agents and analysts alike, educating them on the myriad of potential violations and assisting them in tracing billions of dollars in illicit proceeds. His devotion to duty is unsurpassed, and I am proud that he has been recognized by DHS for his accomplishments in this area."

HSI Intelligence is a robust intelligence force that supports the enforcement needs of HSI's executive leadership and operational field units.

Cutting edge technology, complex intelligence gathering tools, multifaceted investigative techniques and a high level of professionalism have enabled HSI Intelligence to set the standard for federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. HSI Intelligence collects, analyzes and shares strategic and tactical data. It also supports federal, state, local, tribal and international law enforcement partners.

HSI Intelligence analysis and targeting information plays a vital role in supporting investigations related to illegal immigration, terrorism, weapons proliferation, war crimes, financial crimes, trade fraud, drug smuggling, human smuggling and trafficking, child sex tourism and other criminal activities.