Webinar presenters Vince Kersey and Jim Reed answered a number of your questions after their presentation, The El Paso Intelligence Center: All Threats, All Crimes Support for All Law Enforcement. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: What are your criteria for partnering with foreign agencies?
Michael “Vince” Kersey: All of our partnerships with foreign agencies are in coordination with DEA Foreign offices. So, the people that are on the ground in those particular countries will actually, usually starts with them. They will recommend the person for the liaison position at EPIC. They will then be further vetted and go through a process through our DEA security programs. It’s a little bit of a lengthy program, but it generally starts with our foreign DEA offices. As you know, DEA has a wide footprint across the globe with foreign offices. So, it’s a little bit a bit lengthy process that goes through various levels of vetting, that’s basically how it works.
Audience Question: Do you work with Interpol?
Michael “Vince” Kersey: We have DEA personnel assigned to Interpol as well as Europol. And we do share information with those entities, but that information also is coordinated through DEA personnel that are assigned in those particular entities.
Audience Question: Referencing your partnership with Mexico or the partnership, that sounds like it expired that you’re trying to revive. Can you elaborate on the types of requests that were provided by Mexico partners?
Michael “Vince” Kersey: Just again any requests that come to EPIC from agency partners, as well as Mexico, would be through our particular DEA offices in those countries. So those would come through the DEA office say in either Juarez, or Guadalajara, or Mexico City wherever it may be. And they would filter that through that DEA office to EPIC or we would process the information, vet it, and return it back through our office there.
Audience Question: I think they’re interested in what kind of capabilities; information might law enforcement agencies and organizations in Mexico be able to provide? Again, since that relationship, such that partnership, is not currently active, it sounds like that might, might be changing in the future?
Michael “Vince” Kersey: Yes, that’s really where the program started. The Foreign Agency Partners Program started with Mexico and expanded to other countries from there. And then a couple of years ago, Mexico pulled their people out for whatever reason at the time. But we still do work hand in hand with our DEA’s country offices throughout Mexico. So, we still do have a relationship there with our DEA components and through them with our Mexican law enforcement partners. We just don’t have anybody sitting at EPIC from a Mexican law enforcement agency at this time.
Audience Question: Interesting comment and a question from Ethan: As a trooper, I didn’t really understand EPIC. It was just kind of another thing I could ask dispatch for when I was working in interdiction or investigation. But now I’m doing Intel, And I understand that much better. There seems to be a disconnect in understanding EPIC capabilities for officers on the streets. How can we expand that understanding and fill the gap? And I’m guessing the briefing that you talked about might be part of that answer, but I’ll let you respond to this one.
Michael “Vince” Kersey: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s one thing that, starting last year, when I started doing this partner engagement piece of EPIC’s mission back last March, was to push the word out because there is a disconnect of what EPIC is and what it does, not only with other state and local law enforcement partners but even within DEA. I mean, it’s kind of sad to say, but a lot of people within DEA aren’t even aware of all the resources that are available at EPIC. So, we really started pushing this out to our own agency, and we sent out somewhere around 70, 80,000 e-mails to law enforcement agencies across the nation last year. With the information of the PDF documents that are actually attached to this briefing. To push out all of EPIC resources and to offer briefings for agencies across the nation. And really, the best way to get it out there is, we push out all these e-mails and all this information with epic’s capabilities. And also, offer the briefing to agencies, individual agencies across the country, but also through word of mouth. You learn about EPIC today and pass it on to other people you’ve worked with that haven’t seen the briefing. Pass them my contact information. We’ll be glad to set up a briefing and just spread the word of what is available. Because it’s a lot of great resources that can be a huge force multiplier for pretty much any law enforcement agency across the nation, no matter what their mission is, or what type of challenges they’re facing.
Audience Question: Does EPIC provide any intelligence and information dealing with security threat groups and gangs?
Michael “Vince” Kersey: We do have partnerships with investigators involved in gang investigations. I’m actually traveling to Maryland next month to provide this particular briefing at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Gang Investigators’ Network. That’s another aspect of EPIC that is growing, that we hope to expand our footprint out there with investigators that are involved in gang investigations. But yes, we do, and we hope that’s something that continues to grow over the next several months as well.
Audience Question: Does EPIC work closely with high-intensity drug trafficking areas (HIDAs)?
Michael “Vince” Kersey: Yes, we have a strong partnership with all the HIDAs. As well as OMBCP. Actually, our IT Innovation and Support Section provides the de-confliction tools for all of the platforms that the HIDAs use, such as Safety Net, Case Explorer, and Risk Safe. So, we have a strong partnership with HIDA.
Audience Question: Have cartels switched over to virtual currency or is there still a significant amount of bulk currency seizure occurring?
Michael “Vince” Kersey: There has been a lot of bulk current currency seizures over the last year because the one pointing the briefing that you saw is a lot of these businesses that they weren’t able to launder actual physical cash through. Because there’s still, at some point, there is a lot of Bitcoin out there, and that’s increased big time over the last, the last year, or last several years. But, at some point, someone has to get their hands on that cash has to be converted to actual real money, and it has to be laundered in some way. So a lot of these businesses that were used for money laundering over the last year have been closed or haven’t been accessible so that bulk currency has been floating around out there or trying they’ve been trying to find alternate methods to launder it. And it has led to an increased number of bulk currency transfers and seizures over the last year.
Audience Question: Are the FAA passenger lists searches available in drugs cases, or can we contact you for searching for wanted persons?
Michael “Vince” Kersey: Yes. You can contact the Air Investigative Unit for information on flight and passenger manifests. And also, if you’re looking for wanted information, you get a call to watch operations and we’ll give you that information.
Audience Question: Does EPIC work with the Texas Anti-Gang Intelligence Center located in McAllen Texas?
Michael “Vince” Kersey: Specifically, we don’t have a specific partnership or liaison with that particular intelligence center, but we do have an office in McAllen and a large presence there. So, any of the people there, that are assigned to that particular agency are available to get an EPIC account and share information with epic. And that’s something we’ve done over the last year too. Is also reach out to other fusion centers throughout the nation, and we’ve provided this briefing to several state and local fusion centers throughout the country and developed stronger partnerships with them as well to share information. So that would definitely be a partnership that is out there for EPIC to those individuals that work at that particular fusion center to obtain EPIC accounts in order to expand the information that’s available to them as well.
Audience Question: Do you work with any other organizations or agencies such as federal probation officers? Or would they have to work through their local law enforcement agency for an investigation?
Michael “Vince” Kersey: No, any person that has a law enforcement mission, US probation included is eligible to obtain an EPIC portal account and access all of EPIC’s resources. So, we do have actually a pretty good contingent of those types of officers as well.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of The El Paso Intelligence Center: All Threats, All Crimes Support for All Law Enforcement.