DETROIT — Recognizing the critical role local law enforcement played in the investigation and successful prosecution of a bulk-cash smuggling case, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Detroit presented the Trenton Police Department Monday with funds obtained from the probe.
"This case demonstrates the value that local police departments can add to federal task forces," said United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. "In exchange for its work, the Trenton Police Department has received more than half a million dollars that will be used to protect public safety and security in Trenton."
"The nearly 10-year partnership between HSI and the Trenton Police Department has been invaluable to the City of Trenton and our residents. Our work with HSI has allowed our officers to gain investigative experience on a global level and bring that knowledge and experience back to our community," said Trenton Director of Police and Fire Services James Nardone. "The asset forfeiture program has also given the Trenton Police Department the tools to fight crime here at home in Trenton."
Miller presented a poster-sized check in the amount of $524,007.13 to Nardone in a ceremony Monday at the city's biweekly council meeting. The remaining forfeited proceeds are retained by HSI. The funds were distributed in accordance with HSI's asset-forfeiture program that applies to assets obtained as proceeds or instrumentalities of criminal activity.
The funds constitute a portion of the forfeited assets from the case against Eskender Mafarani, a Canadian citizen, who in 2009 was convicted of bulk-cash smuggling charges after attempting to smuggle more than $2 million into the United States at the Ambassador Bridge. Mafarani was later sentenced to more than three years in federal prison and ordered to forfeit his claim to the assets.
Trenton's involvement began in early 2008, when a Trenton police officer who serves as an HSI task force member was one of the first responders on the scene. As an initial responder, the officer provided critical assistance as a government witness in the case. The officer also provided transportation of the defendant, collection of evidence and interviews of witnesses.
Bulk cash smuggling is one of HSI's primary investigative priorities. As part of the effort to combat bulk cash smuggling, ICE established the Bulk Cash Smuggling Center in 2009. Between fiscal years 2003 and 2013, ICE HSI bulk cash smuggling investigations led to the arrest of more than 2,300 individuals and seizures of more than $547 million. The center is an operational, intelligence driven investigative unit that combats bulk cash smuggling from both national and international perspectives. It disrupts pipelines used to move currency derived from illicit activity including drugs, weapons, human trafficking, foreign political corruption and contraband.