A crime-fighting force in NJ you probably never heard of
An elite law enforcement team that’s part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is hard at work in the Garden State. But chances are you never even heard of them.
The Homeland Security Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Investigations Unit is involved in a variety of cross-border criminal activity including financial crimes, fraud, narcotics, cash smuggling, money laundering, transnational gang activity, human trafficking, cybercrime and international art theft.
Brian Michael, the acting special agent in charge of the Newark unit, says a main focus of his team is the ongoing opioid crisis and cracking down on individuals, gangs and cartels that are sending drugs to New Jersey through mail and packages.
Michael said some individuals are using what’s known as the dark net, or the underground internet, to order their drugs.
“People can directly interface with a supplier of, say, fentanyl in China and get it shipped directly to their house in New Jersey," he said.
He said HSI works “hand in hand with our partners in Customs and Border Protection.
“So when those packages come into the United States and they’re screened, if narcotics are found in them, they turn them over to us and then we work with federal, state and local partners to make arrests," he said.
He explained New Jersey is a major distribution hub for a variety of the narcotics because of air and sea ports.
"We are laser focused, especially now with the packages coming in from overseas, going to the individuals who are procuring it online.”
He said his agents are looking at the products arriving here as well as the money going out to purchase the drugs, especially when it comes to major drug cartels.
“There’s no individual package that is too small for our scrutiny," he said.
“We’ve got robust partnerships with our federal state and local partners, so together we’re sharing information more than we ever have before, especially as it relates to the opioid crisis.”
He explained to intercept drugs sent through the mail, detection dogs are sometimes used. Technological advancements also allow them to detect drugs in packages.
If you have any information about illegal drugs being shipped into New Jersey you are asked to contact the HSI hotline at 1-866-347-2423.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com