On September 14, 2022, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) John K. Tien and senior officials from U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) participated in the “High-Level International Conference on Border Security in the Americas,” a virtual event hosted by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
At the request of Deputy Secretary Tien and in coordination with INTERPOL Washington – a component of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) co-managed by DHS – INTERPOL’s General Secretariat convened senior law enforcement leaders from South, Central, and North America to discuss the broad collaboration underway regarding border management and irregular migration in the Western Hemisphere.
Deputy Secretary Tien spoke about the importance of partnerships and joint action across the Americas in addressing irregular migration and countering pressing threats to public safety and national security in the region. As he said, “The fight against human smuggling, the campaign to crack down on transnational criminal organizations, and the effort to tackle the root causes of irregular migration cannot succeed through any single country’s individual policies. These tasks are a collective responsibility, and we must lead this vital and urgent work together.”
Citing recent ministerial meetings hosted by partner countries, Deputy Secretary Tien highlighted nations’ shared momentum in taking concrete, coordinated action on irregular migration and recognizing it as a regional phenomenon. He also called on meeting participants to think deeply, as a community, on what more can be done to leverage international organizations such as INTERPOL to promote regional solutions to border challenges.
Matthew Hudak, Deputy Chief of USBP at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), delivered remarks at the conference as well, adding, “Human smuggling starts well before migrants reach our border. Cooperation among international partners is critical in disrupting smuggling and narcotics trafficking.” He discussed USBP’s collaboration with foreign partners, including the unprecedented efforts of Operation Sentinel to disrupt and dismantle human smuggling networks. He then highlighted USBP’s work with the National Targeting Center and the intelligence community to pursue transnational criminal organizations.
Patrick McElwain, Deputy Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), talked about his agency’s collaboration with international partners in investigating smuggled goods, narcotics, and people, alongside a series of other initiatives designed to strengthen HSI’s ability to counter transnational crime.
“Transnational criminal organizations perpetrate crimes, including human and narcotics smuggling, across international borders where illegal activity occurs in at least two countries,” he said. “International law enforcement must work together to investigate transnational criminal organizations from root to branch. HSI’s multi-layered response to combat transnational crime starts abroad, working with international law enforcement partners. INTERPOL’s Conference on Border Security in the Americas is important because it brings leaders from dozens of law enforcement agencies from around the world to discuss and find common solutions to crime problems that affect all members.”
All of these efforts build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive strategy to address irregular migration and counter human smuggling. Leading these actions are Joint Task Force Alpha, Operation Sentinel, Operation Expanded Impact and other initiatives launched to disrupt and dismantle human smuggling networks. DHS has committed over $50 million and surged more than 1,300 personnel in Latin America and along the Southwest Border to bolster efforts to combat transnational crime.
DHS collaborates on a daily basis with our international partners to bring the swift hand of justice down on these criminal organizations. Since launching this unprecedented campaign in April, nearly 5,000 arrests have been made both in the United States and across the regional and 7,603 kilograms of drugs have been seized.