Support to Law Enforcement

Organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorist acts are no longer insular, distinct activities that can be contained and eradicated through traditional enforcement. Instead, they are integrated activities which through their very commission have a reverberating impact on our national interests.

Steven C. McCraw, Deputy Assistant Director,
Investigative Service Division, FBI. -- FBI statement for the record to the House Judiciary Committee, 13 December 2000.

The globalization of financial markets, communications networks, and information systems enables international terrorists, narcotics traffickers, alien smugglers, money launderers, and other criminals to form cooperative relationships irrespective of geographic boundaries. International criminal enterprises move vast sums of illicitly derived money through the world's financial systems. They buy and sell narcotics and arms and smuggle aliens, nuclear materials, and WMD.

The Intelligence Community developed its Support to Law Enforcement Plan to help guide and focus IC activities in this area. Focused support to law enforcement agencies and national policymakers requires the IC to provide intelligence on terrorism, narcotics, and international organized crime.



The Intelligence Community gathers information on any foreign terrorist activity aimed at US persons or interests as part of a well-coordinated use of diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, and military assets.  The FBI has lead responsibility for investigating and preventing violent acts as well as other criminal activities of international terrorists and their organizations within the United States.

Key activities include:

  • The TIPOFF program, managed by INR, is an all-source database containing biographic and derogatory information and backup source documentation associated with some 68,000 suspected terrorists and international organized crime figures. TIPOFF alerted consular officers at US Embassies and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officers at ports of entry to potential terrorists, including possible al-Qa'ida operatives trying to enter the United States; as a result, numerous terrorists and organized crime figures were blocked from entry into the country in FY2001.
  • NIMA created special graphics for the Secret Service in support of the 43rd Presidential Inauguration Ceremony.  The graphics were a combination of imagery and geospatial data over important areas of Washington, DC. The information displayed included checkpoints, venues, and parade routes. NIMA teams worked around the clock to update the progress of the parade and protestor and police movements onto an "event map" monitored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee Headquarters' Joint Interagency Intelligence Support Element.
  • The FBI's Counterterrorism Threat Assessment and Warning Unit coordinated the preparation of threat assessments for such events as the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics. Each threat assessment included a discussion of the threats to US information systems, a rating of potential terrorism threats associated with special events, and a discussion of recent terrorism trends.
  • JICPAC engaged in detailed mission planning support for possible actions against terrorist groups within US Pacific Command's area of operations. This process required close coordination with national and theater intelligence agencies and the correlation of thousands of reports to highlight areas of interest to operators and mission planners.
  • The DCI's Counterterrorism Center (CTC) has been working with US Law Enforcement both overseas and domestically.  In the immediate wake of the 11 September attacks, such activities have intensified. Domestically, CTC is working with other intelligence offices and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces to coordinate the flow of intelligence in order to address all domestic threats, "take the war off of US soil," and to facilitate overseas operations in the war effort.
  • NIMA coordinated immediate crisis imagery requirements following the terrorist attacks on 11 September.  In support of civil agencies, NIMA quickly assessed the damage at the World Trade Center complex, the Pentagon, and the United Airlines Flight 98 debris site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Within hours of the attacks, an imagery-derived damage assessment delineating ash and debris fallout from the collapse of structures at the WTC complex was provided to FEMA. NIMA sent analysts to FEMA's deployed field office in New York City to provide remote sensing expertise. FEMA officials stated that NIMA greatly assisted search and rescue efforts at the WTC complex. 
  • NIMA created several city photomaps, which are a new product for use by the Joint Forces Command for its Homeland Defense Mission. Additionally, the city photomaps have been used by other military customers for planning and educational purposes.
  • AFOSI provided full-time support to 10 FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces in major metropolitan areas immediately following the attacks. AFOSI's aggressive investigative efforts identified numerous items of interest to the investigation and identified threats to DoD resources and activities.
  • Immediately after the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, DOE identified a number of capabilities as well as expertise that could be used to assist with the rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Center and, where needed, assist with coordinating the utilization of these assets. Technical experts and equipment capable of detecting motion and locating cellphones were deployed to the WTC site.
  • INR intelligence analysts drafted and/or coordinated on terrorist threat advisories to overseas posts where reporting indicated a serious, near-term possibility of attack.

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Law enforcement agencies depend on foreign intelligence information to disrupt or dismantle transshipment activities and decrease the quantity of foreign cultivation, production, and distribution of illegal drugs destined for use in the United States. 

  • DIA provided focused intelligence support to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) assets in Mexico City and to Mexican counter-drug forces. This intelligence played a major role in the positioning of operational forces to interdict the movement of illegal drugs to the United States and directly contributed to the arrest of two major drug traffickers. 
  • CIA followed up its first-ever global accounting of cocaine production, seizures, and consumption data with research on other global accounting for heroin. CIA analysts provided illicit narcotics cultivation and production estimates that served as key inputs for the President's annual narcotics certification decisions.
  • FBIS provided daily counternarcotics reports to law enforcement customers on the activities of drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico.
  • NSA information provided to the DCI's Crime and Narcotics Center contributed to the disruption or dismantlement of major foreign narco-trafficking organizations. 
  • INR analysts used Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies to integrate counter-narcotics field operation information related to Plan Colombia (e.g., eradication spraying areas, locations of raided coca labs, hostile fire on aircraft, etc.) into maps for analysis and briefings.  (See figure 2.)

Figure 2:

Southern Colombia Spraying Operations

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Countering International Organized Crime

The DCI's Crime and Narcotics Center (CNC) is the IC's focal point for collection, analysis, and operations against international organized crime.

  • CIA provided US representatives to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) with the names of countries to "name and shame" for having inadequate money-laundering controls. Analysts identified specific countries as candidates for FATF censure; ultimately, most of these countries improved money-laundering statutes.
  • Via reporting to the CNC, NSA provided US policymakers with valuable foreign intelligence on transnational illicit activities related to the 9/11 attacks. 

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Posted: May 01, 2007 06:42 PM
Last Updated: Jan 03, 2012 12:53 PM