U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Manila special agents, the HSI Manila Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU), and HSI Boston coordinated a real-time surveillance operation in the U.S. and the Philippines, which led to the arrests of two Philippine nationals and the rescue of nine trafficked minor victims, ranging in ages from one to 17 years of age. This operation was supported by the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the International Justice Mission (IJM), a non-governmental organization. The nine children were taken into DSWD custody. HSI Manila shared his information with IJM and efforts to locate additional victimized children are ongoing.
The Philippine nationals were arrested for violations of the Philippine Republic Act 10364 (RA 10364) Expanded Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012, in relation to Republic Act 10175, Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, Philippine Republic Act 9775 (RA 9775), Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, and Philippine Republic Act 9208 (RA 9208) as amended by RA 10364, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. RA 9208 is a no-bail offense and if convicted, they will be sentenced to life imprisonment.
In November 2018, HSI Boston provided information to the HSI Manila TCIU regarding an ongoing investigation into two Philippine nationals involved in child exploitation. HSI Boston provided information to the HSI Manila TCIU that one of the Philippine nationals offered online sex shows for monetary compensation depicting under-aged girls performing sexually-related activities. The investigation ultimately led to numerous joint international surveillance operations involving HSI Boston and the HSI Manila TCIU. This HSI- led investigation is being worked as a collaborative effort between HSI Manila, HSI Manila TCIU, HSI Boston, DSWD, and the IJM.
TCIUs are comprised of foreign law enforcement officials, customs officers, immigration officers, and prosecutors who receive ICE training. Partnering with these TCIUs enables ICE to promote direct action via information sharing and investigative leads while respecting the sovereignty of the host country and cultivating international partnerships. Aligned with the President’s Strategy in Combatting Transnational Organized Crime, TCIUs identify targets, collect evidence, share intelligence, and facilitate the prosecution of TCOs both in-country and in the United States.
HSI has over 60 offices in approximately 50 countries worldwide, where its nearly 6,500 special agents enforce over 400 federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety.