Before and after photos from the Nov 14“Ivory Crush” event in Denver, Colorado, where the United States destroyed the entirety of its six-ton stock of seized ivory contraband.
On November 13, Secretary Kerry offered a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the dismantling of the Xaysavang Network, a transnational wildlife trafficking syndicate based in Laos. The reward, the first under INL’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP), is meant to disrupt the illicit trade of wildlife, estimated at $8-10 billion per year.
Profits from wildlife trafficking fund other illicit activities such as narcotics, arms, and human trafficking, and the Xaysavang Network is among the most prolific illicit traders of wildlife.
The Xaysavang Network has affiliates in South Africa, Mozambique, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and China. Its activities facilitate the killing of elephants, rhinos, and other species for products such as ivory.
Sophisticated transnational criminal organizations like the Xaysavang Network perpetuate corruption, threaten the rule of law and border security in fragile regions, and destabilize communities that depend on wildlife for biodiversity and eco-tourism.
INL Assistant Secretary William Brownfield and U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney visiting the Wildlife Forensic Science Unit at the Thai Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation. They were shown confiscated ivory tusks and numerous rescued endangered animals by the Department of Thai Customs, as covered in our October issue of the INL Beat newsletter.
On January 15, 2013 President Obama signed the TOCRP into law as a means of countering the increased global reach and sophistication of today’s criminals. Identifying and dismantling organized criminal groups that operate across borders is very difficult. Obviously, critical information on the transnational criminals, such as financial data, will help law enforcement uncover this criminal activity.
U.S. missions, especially those located in Asia and Africa, are encouraged to disseminate this reward offer to applicable contacts. Information on the Xaysavang Network, including its members or its illegal activities, may contact the rewards hotline in Laos at +856 21 219565 or by email at TOCRP-Xaysavang@state.gov.
The United States will ensure confidentiality to individuals who provide information on transnational criminals, and, if appropriate, will relocate these individuals and their families. Rewards and amounts will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
INL-Trained Women Tajik Police Officers are a Hit in California
A Tajik female police officer and graduate of INL’s Women’s Empowerment Program renders first aid to a young boy in Khujand, Tajikistan.
In October, a delegation of eight Tajik women police officers addressed attendees at the 8th Annual Women Leaders in Law Enforcement Training Symposium in San Jose, California, earning two standing ovations from the audience. A crowd of over 600 attendees listened as Colonel Lola Otaboeva, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs, discussed the delegation’s involvement in INL’s Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP). Otaboeva laid out the roles of Tajik female police in responding to domestic violence and trafficking-in-persons and their goal to increase the number of women in law enforcement.
The Tajik presenters were fresh graduates of INL’s Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP), an intensive six-week program designed by INL’s contractor, The Emergence Group. The WEP, a pilot training program approved and executed in cooperation with Tajikistan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, trains police officers in community policing to increase outreach to women and youth in local communities. The training took place at the Ministry of Internal Affairs Academy in Khujand, Tajikistan, and focused on improving the female police officers skills in dealing with domestic violence, suicide among women, youth violence, and human trafficking.
|Senior Lieutenant Matluba Solieva of the Khujand Youth Crime Prevention Unit demonstrates her bicycle riding skills learned in the INL Women’s Empowerment Program for the Irvine Police Department.
During their visit to California, the Tajik officers built on the lessons learned earlier during WEP and learned more about the important role women play in police departments across America. Such observations will be especially valuable as Tajikistan looks to expand the roles of female police officers (currently only 8 percent of Tajikistan’s police force) in the future. The INL sponsored training is based on the idea that the role of Tajikistan’s women police officers will mirror the evolution of their American counterparts, in which their roles expanded from initially handling crimes against women and children, to taking on the full range of law enforcement duties. “Of course we would like to have more access like female police officers in America have,” Officer Saida Alinazarova told a local media outlet, KTLA 5. Traditionally, female police officers in Tajikistan have only been assigned to administrative duties, but through the WEP they hope to soon enhance their operational role in Tajikistan’s law enforcement.
|Colonel Lola Otaboeva, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs tries on a police vest during a visit at the Fremont Police Department. You can view athttp://goo.gl/Ye7GcZ
“These women form the first police bike patrol unit in Tajikistan, and they serve an important role in reaching out to the community to address domestic violence, suicide among women, and human trafficking,” said Janelle Kuroda, INL Program Officer, “They are trailblazers, and it’s inspiring to see them develop ‘big sister’ relationships with our American female police officers during their visit.”
Following the training symposium, the delegation met with representatives from Cypress, Hayward, Irvine, Fremont, Fullerton, Orange County, and other California police departments through the California Police Chief’s Association to study community outreach and patrols to increase their knowledge prior to returning home. As one participant noted during an interview with local TV station KTLA, “It is good to hear something 1000 times, but it is better to see it once.”
Teamwork in Kosovo is Built on Communication
|One of the seven communications towers.
U.S. Embassy Pristina is committed to strengthening rule of law and democratic institutions in Kosovo. Recently, the INL section of the Embassy worked with the Government of Kosovo to help law enforcement officials overcome infrastructure and training hurdles, demonstrating America’s partnership in the law enforcement sector.
INL funded a $4.5 million project, implemented by the Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), to upgrade capacity and improve security for the Kosovo Police communications network by installing seven 40-meter tall communication towers and support buildings. Prior to this project, the Kosovo Police used a less reliable system with potential security weaknesses and had limited capacity to communicate electronically or to provide time-sensitive information quickly to Regional Offices.
|Information poster detailing other aspects and photos from the project at the October 30, 2013 inauguration event.
This project, known as the Kosovo Police Data Center and Police Resource Information Management System (PRIMS), extended the main electrical distribution and transmission network to the isolated mountainous Budakova communications region and connected the system through a state-of-the-art secure centralized data center. The project also developed a computerized management system which streamlined internal functions such as human resources and procurement; thereby supporting the Government of Kosovo’s commitment to openness and transparency. These improved internal communications utilize microwave technology and cost-efficient Voice-over-Internet Protocol. In addition to creating a 21st century core communication hub, the Information and Communications Technology systems can be expanded to integrate other police and government functions.
In her remarks at the opening ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Tracy Jacobson said that “this donation provides critical and effective tools to equip executive leadership with data that will assist in making sound decisions based upon reliable information. What this means is that the Kosovo Police have a modern and integrated IT system that will assist them to identify criminal activity, to apprehend those who violate Kosovo laws, and to hold them accountable. I encourage you to work closely with your partners to utilize these tools to efficiently and effectively provide public services and meet your responsibilities as public servants.”
DNA Evidence Workshop in Costa Rica
Presentation slide on DNA testing used in solving a wildlife trafficking case.
Because of American TV shows such as NCIS and CSI, people throughout the world now know how useful DNA is for investigations and prosecutions. However, real-life criminal scene investigators, lab specialists, police officers, prosecutors, and judges often do not have all the bells and whistles that we see on television. This became very clear when INL staff visited Costa Rica to discuss forensic evidence. During this visit, it was clear that Costa Rican officials were in the nascent stage of analyzing and using DNA evidence. Specifically, judges were reluctant to allow the use of DNA evidence and prosecutors were unfamiliar using DNA to bolster their cases.
To address some of these concerns, INL staff in San Jose, Costa Rica and Washington, D.C. developed a week-long training entitled, “The Understanding and Use of DNA and Scientific Evidence for Court Testimony.” This training took place in San Jose from October 21-25, 2013. Twenty-six individuals from the Costa Rican judiciary, prosecution, defense bar and forensic lab participated in this training, which was a mix of lectures and practical exercises. Some of the topics discussed were: (1) an overview of DNA evidence – a “how to” from crime scene to courtroom presentation; (2) DNA in the prosecution of sexual assault cases and cold cases using DNA; and (3) an introduction to understanding DNA Mixtures.
The three seated presenters are the District Attorney of Denver, Colorado, Mr. Mitchell R. Morrissey; Denver Police’s Forensic Division’s Director, Dr. Gregory LaBerge; and retired Arizona Judge Ronald Reinstein.
To ensure that the training met the needs of the Costa Rican participants, an advisory council of local judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and forensic lab specialists were consulted during development of the training agenda. INL drew on its relationships with U.S. state and local law enforcement and criminal justice agencies to bring in nationally recognized DNA experts for this training, who are not only well-known in this field, but have conducted trainings together in the past.