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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Abbreviation ICE
ICE is a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security
Badge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Motto "Protecting National Security and Upholding Public Safety"
Agency overview
Formed March 1, 2003
Preceding agencies
Annual budget $5 billion (2008)[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency United States
Constituting instrument Homeland Security Act of 2002
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Agency executive John T. Morton, Assistant Secretary[2]
Parent agency U.S. Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for identifying, investigating, and dismantling vulnerabilities regarding the nation's border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., ICE is charged with the investigation and enforcement of over 400 federal statutes within the United States, and maintains attachés at major U.S. embassies overseas. Consequently, ICE special agents possess the broadest investigative authority within the United States government.[3][4][5][6][7]

ICE is led by an Assistant Secretary, who is appointed at the sub-Cabinet level by the President of the United States, confirmed by the Senate, and reports directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security.[2] The mission of ICE is to protect the United States and uphold public safety by enforcing immigration and customs laws.



ICE Special Agents seizing narcotics during an arrest

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was formed pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 following the events of September 11, 2001. With the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security the functions and jurisdictions of several border and revenue enforcement agencies were combined and consolidated into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Consequently, ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and the second largest contributor to the nation's Joint Terrorism Task Force (after the Federal Bureau of Investigation).[8]

The agencies that were either moved entirely or merged in part into ICE included the investigative and intelligence resources of the United States Customs Service, the criminal investigation resources of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the United States Federal Protective Service. The Federal Protective Service was transferred from ICE to the National Protection and Programs Directorate effective October 28, 2009. At one point, the Federal Air Marshals Service was moved from the Transportation Security Administration to ICE, but they were eventually moved back to the TSA.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is responsible for identifying and eliminating border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security vulnerabilities. ICE has an estimated 15,000 employees in 400 domestic and 50 international offices,[9] though another official figure counts 17,200 employees.[10] The organization is composed of four law enforcement divisions and several support divisions each headed by a director who reports to a Deputy Assistant Secretary.[11] The divisions of ICE provide investigation, interdiction and security services to the public and other law enforcement partners in the federal and local sectors

ICE headquarters building in Washington, D.C.

Office of Investigations

OI uses its broad legal authority to investigate and combat a range of issues that threaten the national security of the United States such as strategic crimes, human rights violations, human smuggling, art theft, human trafficking, drug trafficking, arms trafficking and other types of smuggling (including weapons of mass destruction), immigration crimes, gang investigations, financial crimes, terrorism, computer crimes, and import/export enforcement issues. ICE special agents also conduct investigations aimed at protecting critical infrastructure industries that are vulnerable to sabotage, attack or exploitation.[12]

Office of Intelligence

The Office of Intelligence uses its Intelligence Research Specialists for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of strategic and tactical intelligence data for use by the operational elements of ICE and DHS. Consequently, the Office of Intelligence works closely with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Office of Detention and Removal

ICE officers deporting a man wanted for two murders in Mexico

DRO is responsible for enforcing the nation's immigration laws and ensuring the departure of all removable aliens from the United States. DRO uses its Immigration Enforcement Agents (IEA) to interdict, apprehend, and remove criminal aliens found in the nation's jails and prisons. As such, IEAs are the uniformed presence of immigration enforcement within the interior of the United States. IEAs also are responsible for the transportation and detention of aliens in ICE custody. DRO uses its Deportation Officers to prosecute aliens for illegal re-entry after deportation, monitor cases during deportation proceedings, supervise released aliens who are subject to deportation, and to remove aliens from the United States.[13] Deportation Officers and IEAs also operate strategically placed Fugitive Operations Teams whose function is to locate, apprehend, and remove aliens who absconded from immigration proceedings and remain in the United States with an outstanding Warrant of Deportation. DRO custody management consists of a partnership with the United States Marshals Service in operating JPATS, the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System, otherwise known as Con-Air to remove criminal aliens from the United States.[14]

Office of the Principal Legal Advisor

OPLA provides legal advice, training and services to support the ICE mission and defends the interests of the United States in the administrative and federal courts.

Office of Professional Responsibility

OPR is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct involving employees of ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). OPR preserves the organizational integrity of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by impartially, independently and thoroughly investigating allegations of criminal or serious administrative misconduct by ICE and CBP employees worldwide. Additionally, OPR inspects and reviews ICE offices, operations and processes so as to provide executive management with independent reviews of the agency's organizational health. In this role, OPR assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of ICE in carrying out its mission.


Newly hired ICE special agents, officers, deportation officers, and immigration enforcement agents undergo initial entry training at the ICE Academy on the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. To meet division specific academic and practical instruction, the ICE Academy varies in length from 12 to 24 weeks depending on the position. Furthermore, following graduation, new ICE special agents and officers undergo additional post academy training, as well as career-continuous training, and are assigned to an ICE office anywhere in the nation as well as around the world. Professional support staff are also assigned to one of the many ICE offices.

Investigative Programs

ICE Special Agent detaining a suspect

National Security

The National Security Division monitors the conduct of field enforcement operations in the investigation, detection, interdiction, prosecution, and removal of alien terrorists, terrorist supporters, and hostile foreign intelligence agents located within the United States. This branch also has operational oversight of all ICE special agents assigned to the 66 Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), provides continuous support to all counter-terrorism investigations and ICE field offices supporting those counter-terrorism efforts and provides actionable proactive counter-terrorism lead information, in furtherance of preventing and disrupting alien terrorist cells domestically and abroad.[15]

Operation Community Shield

In February 2005, ICE began Operation Community Shield, a national law enforcement initiative that targets violent transnational street gangs through the use of ICE's broad law enforcement powers, including the unique and powerful authority to remove (deport) criminal aliens, including illegal aliens and legal permanent resident aliens.[16] Under Operation Community Shield:

  • Partners with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, in the United States and abroad, to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach in conducting criminal investigations and other law enforcement operations against violent street gangs and others who pose a threat to public safety.
  • Identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements.
  • Deters, disrupts and dismantles gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.
  • Seeks prosecution and/or removal of alien gang members from the United States .
  • Works closely with our attaché offices throughout Latin America and foreign law enforcement counterparts in gathering intelligence, sharing information and conducting coordinated enforcement operations.
  • Conducts outreach efforts to increase public awareness about the fight against violent street gangs.

Operation Predator

ICE Special Agents escorting a convicted murderer back to Mexico

ICE developed Operation Predator in 2003, an initiative to identify, investigate and arrest child predators and sexual offenders. Operation Predator draws on ICE's unique investigative and enforcement authorities to safeguard children. Coordinated nationally and internationally, Operation Predator brings together an array of ICE disciplines and resources to target these child sex abusers. As part of the effort:

Cyber Crimes

The Cyber Crimes Center (C3) Child Exploitation Section (CES) investigates the trans-border dimension of large-scale producers and distributors of images of child abuse, as well as individuals who travel in foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in sex with minors. The CES employs the latest technology to collect evidence and track the activities of individuals and organized groups who sexually exploit children through the use of websites, chat rooms, newsgroups, and peer-to-peer trading. These investigative activities are organized under Operation Predator, a program managed by the CES. The CES also conducts clandestine operations throughout the world to identify and apprehend violators. The CES assists the field offices and routinely coordinates major investigations. The CES works closely with law enforcement agencies from around the world because the exploitation of children is a matter of global importance.[17]

C3 brings the full range of ICE computer and forensic assets together in a single location to combat such Internet-related crimes as:

  • Possession, manufacture and distribution of images of child abuse.
  • International money laundering and illegal cyber-banking.
  • Illegal arms trafficking and illegal export of strategic/controlled commodities.
  • Drug trafficking (including prohibited pharmaceuticals).
  • General Smuggling (including the trafficking in stolen art and antiquities; violations of the Endangered Species Act etc.)
  • Intellectual property rights violations (including music and software).
  • Immigration violations; identity and benefit fraud

C3 consists of four sections, three of which provide cyber technical and investigative services, the Cyber Crimes Section (CCS), the Child Exploitation Section (CES), and the Digital Forensic Section (DFS). The fourth section, the Information Technology and Administrative Section (ITAS), provides the technical and *operational infrastructure services necessary to support the other three C3 sections. The center is a co-location of special agents, intelligence research specialists, administrative support, and contractors, all of which are instrumental in operational and technical continuity. Within each section, there are various program managers assigned to certain programmatic areas. These program managers are responsible for supporting ICE Internet investigations through the generation and the dissemination of viable leads. Program managers are available to provide guidance and training to field agents as well as to other law enforcement (foreign and domestic) upon request.[17]

Child Exploitation

The C3 CES investigates large-scale producers and distributors of images of child abuse as well as individuals who travel in foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in sex with minors. The CES employs the latest technology to collect evidence and track the activities of individuals and organized groups who sexually exploit children through the use of websites, chat rooms, newsgroups and peer-to-peer trading. The CES also conducts clandestine operations throughout the world to identify and apprehend violators. The CES assists the field offices and routinely coordinates major investigations. The CES works closely with law enforcement agencies from around the world because the exploitation of children is a matter of global importance.

  • Operation Falcon — A joint international images of child abuse investigation initiated by ICE that identified 39 websites distributing child pornography. Further investigation led to the arrest of 1,200 international downloader’s and more than 300 U.S. customers. Nine individuals from the United States and Belarus were identified and charged as the principals in this investigation. All principals were convicted on various charges related to money laundering, structuring and the production and distribution of images of child abuse.
  • Operation Mango — An extensive investigation that closed down an American-owned beachside resort in Acapulco, Mexico, which offered children to sexual predators. The resort was a haven for pedophiles that traveled to the facility for the sole purpose of engaging in sex with minors. The proprietor of the business was convicted. As a result of this investigation and others, the government of Mexico recently created a Federal task force to address crimes against children in its country.
  • Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force — Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice Programs, ICAC Task Force comprises 45 task forces. The task forces were created in cooperation with the DOJ ICAC to provide reporting, a means to provide a virtual pointer system for Child Exploitation and images of child abuse cases and secure collaboration for various Federal, State, and Local law enforcement organizations, task forces, and affiliated groups around the world. DHS/ICE strongly supports the efforts of the ICAC task forces as demonstrated by ICE special agents being active members of the ICACs throughout the United States. The Northern Virginia/Metro DC ICAC is housed at the DHS/ICE C3.[17]

Cyber Crimes Section

The Cyber Crimes Section (CCS) is responsible for developing and coordinating investigations of Immigration and Customs violations where the Internet is used to facilitate the criminal act. The CCS investigative responsibilities include fraud, theft of intellectual property rights, money laundering, identity and benefit fraud, the sale and distribution of narcotics and other controlled substances, illegal arms trafficking and the illegal export of strategic/controlled commodities and the smuggling and sale of other prohibited items such as art and cultural property. The CCS is involved in the development of Internet undercover law enforcement investigative methodology, and new laws and regulations to strengthen U.S. Cyber-Border Security. C3 supports the ICE Office of Investigation’s (OI) domestic field offices, along with ICE foreign attachés offices with cyber technical, and covert online investigative support.[17]

  • Operations Apothecary – The CCS, the ICE Commercial Fraud Office and the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center have partnered together and launched a comprehensive Internet pharmaceutical initiative designed to target, arrest and prosecute individuals and organizations that are involved in the smuggling of counterfeit pharmaceuticals of a controlled and non-controlled nature as well as scheduled narcotics via the Internet. The focus is also on the affiliates of the rogue pharmacies that are typically operated by criminal enterprises whose sole purpose is to generate large sums of money, with no regard to the health and welfare of the public.
  • Intellectual Property Rights - The CCS has encountered thousands of web sites based in the United States, as well as foreign that are engaged in the sale of counterfeit merchandise (including music and software) via the Internet. The CCS continues to work closely with the National IPR Coordination Center, the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) at the DOJ, and industry representatives to identify web sites responsible for the sale of the counterfeit items.
  • Arms and Strategic Technology - The CCS supports ICE’s mission to prevent proliferate countries, terrorists, trans-national criminals from obtaining strategic materials, funds and support and to protect the American public from the introduction weapons of mass destruction and other instruments of terror from entering the United States.
  • Identify Fraud Initiative - The availability and use of fraudulent identification documents has always been a concern to the law enforcement community. While traditionally available from street sources, fraudulent identification and travel documents, of all types, are also readily available for sale via the Internet. In the post 9-11 world, fraudulent identity and travel documents are of an even greater concern to ICE because of the alarming threat they pose to ICE's primary mission of protecting the United States, and its citizens, from threats arising from the movement of people and goods into and out of the country. With addressing these documents and their threat in mind, the CCS has sought to identify sources for fraudulent identity and immigration documents on the Internet.

Notable ICE Criminal Cases

ICE Special Agents prepare for an arrest

National Security

  • October 14, 2006, ICE removed Sayed Malike to Afghanistan. Malike came to the attention of ICE via the FBI because he attempted to purchase C4 explosives, night vision goggles, bullet proof vests, and drugs from an undercover FBI agent. He was charged in the Eastern District of New York with the crime of lying to a federal law enforcement officer. Malike pled guilty to this offense on November 2, 2005. ICE placed him in removal proceedings based on this conviction. On June 1, 2006, an immigration judge ordered the removal of Malike from the United States.
  • October 16, 2006, ICE successfully removed Jasvir Singh to India. An immigration judge ordered Singh’s removal on May 15, 2006 after ICE presented evidence that Singh attempted to purchase large quantities of weapons, including surface to air missiles, from undercover FBI agents. Singh told the agents that he was a member of Babbar Khalsa, a terrorist group in India, and that the weapons were to be used against the government of India.
  • January 23, 2007, ICE removed Majid Al Massari to Saudi Arabia. Al Massari entered the United States on a student visa in 1993. On July 22, 2004, ICE arrested Al Massari after he had been convicted of a drug related offense. ICE charged Al Massari with being a visa overstay and placed him in removal proceedings. The ICE investigation revealed that he had been soliciting funds for a group called the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR). He also helped to run the group’s website. The CDLR is a front group for Al Qaeda. The CDLR is also publicly dedicated to the overthrow of the Saudi Arabian government and the installation of an Islamist government in its place. On June 27, 2005, an immigration judge ordered the removal of Al Massari from the United States.
  • March 6, 2007, ICE removed Muhammed Abdi Afrid to Pakistan. Afrid was paroled into the United States on March 5, 2003 to face federal criminal charges in California. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California charged Afrid with conspiracy to distribute hashish and heroin and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group based on an incident in China on September 16, 2002 wherein Afrid attempted to purchase stinger missiles from an undercover U.S. agent in exchange for five tons of hashish and 600 kilograms of heroin. Afrid planned to sell the missiles to the Taliban. On April 3, 2006, Afrid received a five year sentence to federal prison for these offenses. ICE placed Afrid in removal proceedings and charged him with being removable on account of his criminal conviction. An immigration judge ordered his removal on December 14, 2006.
  • On September 12, 2008, ICE successfully removed Sarafat Mohamed to Egypt. Mohamed was an Imam for the Hoda Islamic Center in Gainesville, Florida. Mohamed entered the United States on October 26, 1999 on a non - immigrant religious worker visa. He later obtained a special immigrant religious worker visa. He applied to become a lawful permanent resident in 2001. The FBI interviewed Mohamed in 2005. Mohamed confessed to the FBI that he was a founding member of Takfir Wal Higra (TWH). TWH was an Egyptian based terrorist organization responsible for the 1977 kidnapping and murder of the Egyptian Minister of Islamic Endowment, Mohamed Hussain Al Zahabi. TWH was notable because, unlike many other radical Islamic groups, it did not refrain from murdering other Muslims. Though Mohamed denied any role in the murder, he admitted to being a recruiter for TWH. He also admitted that he served as the religious leader for TWH. After the murder, Egyptian authorities arrested many members of TWH, including Mohamed. He was convicted for his membership in the organization and served a 20 year prison sentence. Mohamed failed to include his arrest and conviction in his application to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Mohamed’s residency application and placed him in removal proceedings, charging him with lying in order to gain an immigration benefit. ICE vigorously sought a removal order in immigration court. Over the strong objections of ICE, an immigration judge in Miami granted Mohamed’s request to become a lawful permanent resident. ICE successfully appealed this decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Board agreed with ICE and reversed the ruling of the immigration judge. The Board ordered the removal of Mohamed on July 30, 2008.

Counter-Proliferation Investigations

  • Telecommunications Equipment to Iraq – On October 2, 2008, Dawn Hanna was convicted by a jury in the Eastern District of Michigan on eight counts of an indictment charging her with illegally exporting telecommunications and other equipment with potential military applications to Iraq during the administration of Saddam Hussein and during the embargo on that country. On July 19, 2007, Hanna was indicted on charges of conspiracy, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering conspiracy, and false statements. From 2002 to 2003, Hanna allegedly received $9.5 million in proceeds to supply telecommunications and other equipment to Iraq in violation of the U.S. embargo that existed prior to the invasion by coalition forces in 2003.
  • Military Accelerometers to China – On September 26, 2008, Qing Li was sentenced in the Southern District of California to 12 months and one day in custody, followed by three years of supervised released, and ordered to pay a fine for conspiracy to smuggle military-grade accelerometers from the United States to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Li pleaded guilty on June 9, 2008, to violating Title 18 USC Section 554. She was indicted for the offense on October 18, 2007. Li conspired with an individual in China to locate and procure as many as 30 Endevco 7270A-200K accelerometers for what her co-conspirator described as a “special” scientific agency in China. This accelerometer has military applications in “smart” bombs and missile development and in calibrating the g-forces of nuclear and chemical explosions.
  • Rifle Scopes to Russia – On September 11, 2008, a Grand Jury in the Middle District of Pennsylvania indicted Boris Gavrilov, D&B Compas Ltd, and Kiflet Arm on charges of illegally exporting military-grade and dual-use rifle scopes to Russia without the required U.S. government licenses. Gavrilov is believed to be a resident of Israel. D&B Compas is located in Israel, while Kiflet Arm is located in Humboldt, Texas. Extradition proceedings for Gavrilov have commenced.
  • Fighter Jet Components to Iran – On September 5, 2008, George Frank Myles, Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally export military aviation parts without obtaining the permission of the U.S. Department of State, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. Myles was indicted for this offense on September 6, 2007, in the Southern District of New York, and the case was transferred to the Southern District of Florida pursuant to Rule 21. Sentencing is set for October 30, 2008. During the conspiracy, which spanned from April 2005 to March 2007, Myles supplied a number of military aviation parts, including F-14 parts, to an Iranian national, who allegedly picked up the parts in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Surface-to-Air Missiles, Night Vision Devices, Firearms to Foreign Terrorists – On July 10, 2008, Erik Wotulo, a retired Indonesian Marine Corps general, was sentenced in the District of Maryland to 30 months in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a designated terrorist organization, and money laundering. Beginning in April 2006, Wotulo conspired with Haji Subandi, Haniffa Bin Osman and Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa to export state-of-the-art firearms, machine guns and ammunition, surface to air missiles, night vision goggles and other military weapons to the Tamil Tigers operating in Sri Lanka, to be used to fight against Sri Lankan government forces. The conspirators contacted an undercover business located in Maryland about the sale of military weapons. In September 2006, the defendants arrived in Guam, where they met with undercover officers to inspect and take possession of the weapons, and were eventually arrested. On January 3, 2008, Varatharasa was sentenced to 57 months in prison. Subandi was sentenced to 37 months in prison on December 14, 2007, while Osman is scheduled to be sentenced in August 2008. Two additional defendants, Rinehard Rusli and Helmi Soedirdja, pleaded guilty to export and money laundering violations on January 30, 2007, as part of a related plot to provide military night vision devices to the Indonesian military.

Anti-Human Trafficking

  • Sex Trafficking/San Antonio—On June 1, 2007, a San Antonio woman and her two daughters were ordered detained without bond for engaging in sex trafficking of children. The woman, age 59, and her daughters, ages 32 and 29, were arrested and charged with sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion. Based on the ongoing investigation and the victims’ statements, it is alleged that the defendants traveled to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to recruit young girls to work as prostitutes in the San Antonio area. The victims in this case were 15, 17 and 22 years old. After arriving in the United States, the victims were told they would have to work as prostitutes for five years to repay the money the defendants had spent. Allegedly the money was spent on smuggling and other expenses they incurred to prepare the young women to be prostitutes. The victims told ICE agents that they were scared to leave because a male associate of the Ochoa’s had threatened them with a gun; he also stated that he could find them and their families back in Mexico, and he would have them killed. The female violators in this case received sentences of time served to 18 months in prison for their convictions for harboring and transporting aliens for financial gain. One of the male defendants was sentenced to 120 months in prison for conspiracy to transport aliens for financial gain and for aiding and abetting sex trafficking of a child. One remaining defendant is scheduled for jury trial in February 2009.
  • Involuntary Servitude/Michigan—On May 31, 2007, a couple from Cameroon was sentenced for involuntary servitude and related charges. Joseph Djoumessi, 49, was found guilty of conspiracy, involuntary servitude and harboring for financial gain. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison, to run concurrent with a 9-to-15-year sentence he is currently serving for a Michigan state conviction related to the same crime. A jury also convicted Djoumessi's wife, Evelyn Djoumessi, 42, of conspiracy and involuntary servitude. She was sentenced to five years in prison. The couple was also ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to the victim. ICE agents in Detroit began an investigation in 2000 after receiving information regarding a young girl who was possibly being held against her will. A 17-year-old girl from Cameroon was discovered in the Djoumessi home, living under a false identity and in questionable circumstances. The girl had been brought into the United States illegally when she was 14 years old. During the time the girl lived at the couple's home, she was forced "by beating and threats," according to court documents, to care for their children and perform household chores without pay. They also limited her contact with the outside world and did not permit her to attend school.
  • Labor Trafficking/Long Island, N.Y.—On May 13, 2007, Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) officers encountered a female subject disoriented and wandering around a residential neighborhood. The NCPD identified her as a possible trafficking victim and contacted ICE agents assigned to the Human Trafficking Task Force who interviewed the victim at the Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC). The victim indicated that she had escaped from a residence in Muttontown, N.Y., where she was forced to stay and work under horrific conditions. Doctors diagnosed the victim with extensive bruising, burns and lacerations, allegedly inflicted by her employer, Varsha Sabhnani. On the evening of May 13, 2007, ICE agents executed a federal search warrant at the residence in Muttontown and found another female domestic worker hiding in the basement. The second victim denied physical abuse, but witnessed the physical abuse inflicted upon the other victim. Both victims claimed that Sabhnani and her husband verbally abused them and restricted their movements at all times. On May 14, 2007, ICE agents arrested Mahender and Varsha Sabhnani who were subsequently indicted. On December 18, 2007, they were found guilty by jury of forced labor, peonage, document servitude, harboring aliens and conspiracy. In June 2008, Varsha Sabhnani was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment and her husband was sentenced to 3 years. The jury ordered that their residence, valued at $1.5 million, be criminally forfeited. Proceeds from the sale of the residence will be used to pay restitution to the victims.
  • Sex Trafficking/New York—The Flores-Carreto family sex-trafficking ring operated between Tenancingo, Tlaxcala, Mexico, and Queens, New York, from 1991 to 2004 and involved brothels in the New York metropolitan area. ICE began its investigation in December 2003 after the mother of a trafficking victim reported to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City that her daughter had been kidnapped and was being held against her will in New York. ICE discovered that male members of the Flores-Carreto family romantically lured young Mexican women to the United States, where they were forced into prostitution through beatings and threats against their children, who were residing with the traffickers' mother in México. Victims who became pregnant were forced to have abortions. In April 2005, Josue Flores-Carreto, Gerardo Flores-Carreto and Daniel Perez Alfonso, a brothel manager, were sentenced to 50, 50, and 25 years imprisonment respectively, for multiple offenses related to forced prostitution. In January 2007, Mexico extradited Consuelo Caretto Valencia, the mother of the Carreto brothers, to the United States, where she was charged with conspiring on sex trafficking and related offenses. On July 22, 2008, she pled guilty to sex trafficking and is pending sentencing for that crime. The prosecution has been one of the largest sex trafficking cases brought under the provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The sentences in this case are some of the longest to date.

ICE and immigration law

Immigration and Nationality Act Section 287(g) is designed to effectively multiply ICE forces through enhanced cooperation and communication with state, and local law enforcement agencies. Section 287(g) authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, permitting designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions, pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), provided that the local law enforcement officers receive appropriate training and function under the supervision of sworn U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Under 287(g), ICE provides state and local law enforcement with the training and subsequent authorization to identify, process, and when appropriate, detain immigration offenders they encounter during their regular, daily law-enforcement activity.[18]

"The days of ignoring immigration law are over," Marc Raimondi, A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, said. "A failure to comply is not an option. The person ordered to be removed needs to comply with that order or we'll assist them with compliance. To think of people illegally in the country who have been convicted of crimes are walking around is outrageous."[19]

ICE has played a key role in investigating and arresting citizens suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography.[20] Because a vast majority of child pornography is produced in foreign countries, ICE special agents utilize their authority to investigate persons and groups that traffic in this type of contraband, the importation of which via traditional mail or internet channels constitute violations of customs laws.

Detention centers

ICE operates detention centers throughout the United States that detain illegal aliens who are apprehended and placed into removal proceedings. About 31,000 aliens are held in immigration detention on any given day,[21] in over 200 detention centers, jails, and prisons nationwide.

In 2006, the T. Don Hutto Residential Center opened specifically to house non-criminal families. Other significant facilities are located in Austin, Texas (at the Travis County Courthouse); Elizabeth, New Jersey; Oakdale, Louisiana; Florence, Arizona; Miami, Florida; Seattle; York, Pennsylvania; Batavia, New York; Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and all along the TexasMexico border.

A December 2009 article by The Nation alleges that the ICE maintains 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices, which are not subject to ICE Detention Standards, and amount to secret detention. The article quotes James Pendergraph, formerly the executive director of ICE's Office of State and Local Coordination, as stating "If you don't have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he's illegal, we can make him disappear."[22]

Deaths in detention

ICE has counted 107 deaths in detention since October 2003. The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union recently obtained documents detailing the circumstances of these deaths, under the Freedom of Information Act. "The documents show how officials — some still in key positions — used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse," the New York Times reported.[23] The deaths in detention included the following cases:

  • Boubacar Bah, a 52-year old tailor from Guinea, was left in an isolation cell for more than 13 hours after falling and suffering a head fracture before an ambulance was called. His family was not notified for five days of his injury. [24] A video shows Bah in the medical unit, before medical personnel sent him to the isolation cell. In the tape, his hands are handcuffed behind his back, he is face down, and he calls out repeatedly in his native language, Fulani: “Help, they are killing me!” Telephone and email records show that ten agency managers based in Newark and Washington discussed how to avoid the cost of his care and unwanted media attention. They considered sending Bah back to Guinea and reviewing his canceled work permit to see if it would be possible to get Medicaid or disability benefits. Eventually, they decided to release him to cousins in New York who objected that they had no way to care for Bah; however, days before this release was planned, Bah died.[23]
  • Nevy Romero was a 22 year old Salvadoran immigrant with no previous history of mental illness who committed suicide in his cell in the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey. At the time of his detention, he was recovering from surgery in which metal pins had been placed in his leg, seriously broken in a motorcycle accident, and was taking strong prescription painkillers. According to Romero's cellmates and family, authorities failed to provide Romero with painkillers despite his repeated requests.[23] In a letter written to his mother shortly before his death, Romero stated: "I'm in hell. They don't give me nothing for my pain."[25]
  • Sandra Kenley of Barbados, who did not receive treatment for a uterine fibroid tumor, died at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Va in December 2006.[25]
  • Abdoulai Sali died of an untreated kidney ailment in the Piedmont Regional Jail in Virginia.[25]
  • Young Sook Kim died at the New Mexico Regional Jail in Albuquerque of pancreatic cancer in September 2006. She had asked for weeks to receive medical care, and died the day after she was taken to a hospital.[26]

Corporate contracts

Engineering and construction firm Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) released a press statement on January 24, 2006 that the company had been awarded a no-bid contingency contract from the Department of Homeland Security to support its ICE facilities in the event of an emergency. The maximum total value of the contract is $385 million and consists of a 1-year base period with four 1-year options. KBR held the previous ICE contract from 2000 through 2005. The contract provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to expand existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs. The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, the company said.


An Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Black Hawk supporting an ICE operation

ICE officers carry the Sig Sauer P229R pistol with the DAK trigger chambered in .40 S&W, the Heckler & Koch USP Compact with LEM trigger in .40 S&W, or the Glock 19 pistol chambered in 9x19 mm. Eventually, all ICE officers will transition to the Sig Sauer P229R-DAK as their primary sidearm. They also may be assigned the Remington Model 870 shotgun, the Steyr AUG rifle, the Colt M16 rifle, the FN P90 or the Colt M4 carbine. Agents and officers assigned to a Special Response Team (SRT) are specifically assigned the Colt M4 carbine while some operators may also carry the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun, although these are being phased out.[15]

ICE San Diego Special Response Team (SRT) operators aiding the rescue efforts during Hurricane Katrina

ICE operates the only nation-wide radio communication system in the federal law enforcement community. The system, known as the National Law Enforcement Communications Center (NLECC) is Motorola-based and employs a technology specifically designed for ICE known as COTHEN (Customs Over The Horizon Network). Consequently, ICE agents, officers, and authorized subcribers are able to communicate with one another across the nation using NLECC's strategically placed repeaters and high-speed data lines. Additionally, the NLECC, commonly referred to as SECTOR, is based in Orlando, Florida..[15]

See also


  1. ^ FY2008 Budget
  2. ^ a b "Leadership: Assistant Secretary John T. Morton". U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. May 21, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2009.  
  3. ^ Preston, Julia (October 14, 2007). "No Need for a Warrant, You’re an Immigrant". New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2009.  
  4. ^ Londoño, Ernesto (June 13, 2007). "Database Is Tool in Deporting Fugitives". Washington Post. Retrieved February 11, 2009.  
  5. ^ US CODE: Title 19,1589a. Enforcement authority of customs officers
  6. ^ US CODE: Title 8,1357. Powers of immigration officers and employees
  7. ^ US CODE: Title 19,482. Search of vehicles and persons
  8. ^ Federal Bureau of Investigation - Press Room - Headline Archives
  9. ^ "Careers". U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Retrieved 2009-02-08. "ICE has approximately 15,000 employees working in 400 offices nationwide and over 50 locations internationally."  
  10. ^ "Programs". U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Retrieved 2009-02-08. "With more than 17,200 employees and an annual budget of nearly $5 billion, ICE has broad law enforcement powers and authorities, with responsibility for enforcing more than 400 federal statutes within the United States."  
  11. ^ ICE Leadership
  12. ^ ICE Operations
  13. ^ ICE Office of Detention and Removal (DRO) ICE Detention and Deportation Officer Conrad Agagan
  14. ^ US Marshals - Justice Prisoner & Alien Transportation System (JPATS)
  15. ^ a b c Office of Investigations-National Security
  16. ^ Office of Investigations-Operation Community Shield
  17. ^ a b c d ICE Office of Investigations-Investigative Services Division - Cyber Branch
  18. ^ 287g training from ICE sought by many U.S. jurisdictions - novatownhall blog
  19. ^ Charlotte News - Local News Charlotte | Charlotte Observer
  20. ^ Teacher faces charges of pornography-
  21. ^ "In-Custody Deaths". New York Times.  
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b c Nina Bernstein (January 10, 2010). "Officials Hid Truth About Immigrant Deaths in Jail". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2010.  
  24. ^ Template:Cite news title=Few Details on Immigrants Who Died in Custody
  25. ^ a b c . The New York Times. January 10, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2010.  
  26. ^ {{Cite news name= Deaths of immigrants in U.S. held for deportation spark scrutiny|author=Nina Bernstein|publisher=New York Times|date = June 26, 2007|accessdate=January 10, 2010|url =}}

External links

International agencies comparable to ICE


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