Fairfax, Virginia - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Cyber Crimes Center (C3), a high-tech federal law enforcement entity that combats cybercrime activity, generated interest from abroad. On Wednesday, United Kingdom’s Home Secretary, the Right Honorable Theresa May, met with ICE leaders and toured C3, located in Fairfax, Virginia.
Secretary May’s position is equivalent to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Her staff had previously visited C3, but Secretary May traveled across the pond to see for herself the work that C3 does, especially in view of HSI’s strong working relationship with the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency, as well as the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group, an alliance between the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand to conduct intelligence operations.
Secretary May toured C3 and met with HSI Deputy Executive Associate Director Derek Benner, who said, “It was an honor and pleasure to meet with Secretary May. ICE welcomes dignitaries and visitors who share our interest in protecting not only our own people, but all victims or potential victims of predators and thieves who do their dirty work from cyberspace."
Law enforcement leaders recognize that digital technology has erased geographic boundaries that, in the past, prevented crimes from becoming transnational. Many crimes that used to be local are now global in scope.
“As an agency that fights crime with a cross-border nexus, ICE is positioning itself to combat international cybercrime with the same dedication that it has applied to combating organized transnational crime,” said Mark Witzal, assistant director of HSI Investigative Programs.
Cybercrime has vastly increased in numbers and scope. Criminals turn to the Internet because they can contact like-minded deviants, troll for victims and also believe they’ll remain anonymous in a virtual place where they sexually exploit children, commit document fraud, steal intellectual property rights, sell counterfeit merchandise and conduct a host of other serious crimes; all of which C3 combats.
While C3 was created under the U.S. Customs Service in 1997 as a response to changing technologies and their effect on criminal trends, the facility was recently renovated and expanded. The facility now has a 5,000 square-foot forensic laboratory, an operation room for coordinating large cyber operations, an evidence vault and multiple training and conference rooms.