In an effort to combat the illegal vehicle trafficking trade, some of the profits of which find their way into the coffers of Islamist jihadi organizations, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has expanded its partnership with counterparts in the United Kingdom.
At an event at the US Embassy in London, CBP and the United Kingdom National Police Chief’s Council, National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) and the United Kingdom Border Force, signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to share law enforcement information in order to intercept illegal vehicles imports.
“Import safety is a global challenge that requires strong international partnerships,” said Brenda Smith, assistant commissioner for CBP’s Office of International Trade. “With this agreement, CBP and our partners in the United Kingdom set the stage to expand joint trade enforcement efforts into Europe.”
CBP’s Cynthia Whittenburg, executive director for Trade Policy and Programs, signed the LOI on behalf of the delegation from CBP. The agreement marks the beginning of several days of working sessions toward expanding Operation Atlantic, the joint trade enforcement operation that targets illegal vehicle imports, onto the European continent.
“Operation Atlantic has clearly demonstrated the significance and benefits of multi-lateral information exchanges in the enforcement of the laws of both our countries,” said Gordon Roberts, Detective Chief Inspector with NaVCIS. “Today, we reaffirm our commitment to our US partners to thwart illegal vehicle trade, together!”
At the signing of the agreement, Deputy Director of the United Kingdom Border Force Intelligence Directorate Sam Bullimore noted, “The Border Force National Intelligence Directorate is very pleased to continue its co-operation and close working relationship with CBP and NaVCIS through the signing of a new Operation Atlantic LOI. Addressing cross border crime is a priority for Border Force and our capability has been increased through our collaboration with CBP and NaVCIS in Operation Atlantic.”
Launched in March 2014, Operation Atlantic is a joint US and UK trade enforcement initiative to seize illegal vehicle imports.
In the US, Operation Atlantic involves the teamwork of personnel at CBP’s Commercial Analysis and Targeting Center (CTAC) and CBP officers and import specialists at ports of entry. Armed with information from its counterparts in the UK, CBP personnel can more effectively target illegal vehicle imports.
Over the past year, inspections of imported vehicles, specifically Austin Minis and Land Rover Defenders, have dramatically increased with more than 500 vehicles examined. Much of the activity was spurred as a result of Operation Atlantic.
This week will also see the beginning of increased efforts with other European counterparts to focus trade enforcement efforts on unsafe and illegal vehicle trafficking. Through leveraging CBP’s Container Security Initiative program, customs and law enforcement entities on the European continent will work together with CBP officers stationed in country to intercept suspect vehicles and to exchange enforcement information.
For additional information on the CTAC, please visit www.cbp.gov/ctac.