Global Trade Investigations Division
The central focus of the Global Trade Investigations Division – and more broadly, Homeland Security Investigations – is to protect our nation’s citizens and industry from transnational criminal organizations by enforcing robust import and export controls. As part of the headquarters reorganization, the newly formed Global Trade Investigations Division is a multi-layered response toward mitigating existing vulnerabilities within the commerce stream. This newly formed division is comprised of the following:
- The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) which stands at the forefront of the United States government’s response to combatting global intellectual property (IP) theft and enforcement of its international trade laws. Safeguarding IP underpins every aspect of our nation – from jobs and the economy to the military and national security.
- The Counter-Proliferation Investigations (CPI) Unit which prevents illicit procurement networks, terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining United States military products, sensitive dual-use technology, weapons of mass destruction, or chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials.
- The Export Enforcement Coordination Center (E2C2) which is a multi-agency center that serves as the primary government entity for the exchange of information and intelligence related to export enforcement.
This realignment consolidates operations to strengthen the work of HSI field offices and more efficiently address the overall trade enforcement mission.
Mr. Steve Francis is the Assistant Director for Global Trade Investigations Division with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.
Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (Pub.L.144-125)Sec. 305. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center; and appoint an Assistant Director to head the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.
IPR Center’s Outreach and Training Section engages in partnerships with the public and private sectors to combat Intellectual Property (IP) theft through its Operation Joint Venture (Joint Venture) initiative. This IPR Center-led outreach initiative is designed to increase information sharing with public and private sectors to combat the illegal importation and distribution of counterfeit, substandard and tainted goods. Joint Venture targets rights holders, manufacturers, importers, customs brokers, freight forwarders, bonded facilities, carriers and others to discuss the IPR Center’s priorities of protecting public health and safety, the economy, and securing the Government’s supply chain. Through outreach and public engagement, the Outreach and Training Section raises the public’s awareness of the dangers of trade based violations, such as IP, while serving as a public point of contact for investigative leads. The IPR Center’s target audience includes a broad spectrum of industries and government agencies to include, but not limited to: pharmaceutical, entertainment, wearing apparel, sports, electronic and automobile manufactures, customs bonded entities, importers, and law enforcement officials. In addition to the industry outreach mission, the Outreach and Training Section conducts domestic and international training of federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement.
IPR Center partners employ a strategic approach to combat IP Theft. That approach includes:
- Investigation – Identifying, disrupting, prosecuting and dismantling criminal organizations involved in the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit products.
- Interdiction – Using focused targeting and inspections to keep counterfeit and pirated goods out of U.S. supply chains, markets and streets.
- Outreach and Training – Providing training for domestic and international law enforcement to build stronger enforcement capabilities worldwide.
Our global economy and e-commerce have made combating IP theft a more complex challenge. There are more threats to border security, national security, and U.S. economic stability. The IPR Center is prepared to take on these challenges.
Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
Successful cases have produced significant seizures, civil penalties, and criminal prosecutions.
AFOSI identifies, exploits and neutralizes criminal, terrorist and intelligence threats to the Air Force, the Department of Defense and the U.S. government. AFOSI aggressively addresses the growing threat of counterfeit parts being introduced into the Air Force supply chain, by partnering with the Air Force and Department of Defense acquisition community, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors at all levels.
The City of London Police (CoLP) is the United Kingdom's national lead force for fraud and works with partners across the globe to protect the UK from economic crime and to bring offenders to justice. CoLP also hosts the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), an operational team combatting criminals who infringe trademark and copyright legislation which is funded by the UK Intellectual Property Office. CoLP disrupt criminals by suspending websites and restricting the flow of money to their operators.
Working with law enforcement agencies in the UK and across the world to arrest criminals and bring them to justice, their work spans the production, importation and sale of counterfeit goods and the illicit streaming of television, film, music and published work."
The DCIS protects America's Warfighters by investigating terrorism; preventing the illegal transfer of sensitive defense technologies to proscribed nations and criminal elements; investigating companies that use defective parts in weapons systems and equipment utilized by the military; stopping cyber crimes and computer intrusions; and investigating cases of fraud, bribery, and corruption to ensure taxpayer dollars are better spent defending our nation.
As America's combat logistics support agency, the DLA provides military branches, federal agencies, and combined and allied forces with the full spectrum of logistics, acquisition and technical services. The agency sources and provides nearly 100 percent of the consumable items America's military forces need to operate. These items include food, fuel and energy, as well as uniforms, medical supplies and construction and barrier equipment. As a result, DLA actively works with military branches, federal agencies and contractors to identify and stop the procurement of non-standard and counterfeit items through its partnership with the IPR Center, diligent contracting enforcement, audits and investigations.
The Department of Commerce’s OIPR is housed within the agency’s International Trade Administration. This office helps U.S. rights holders protect and enforce their intellectual property rights in foreign markets. OIPR participates in multilateral and bilateral dialogues to promote U.S. IPR trade policy internationally and monitors countries’ compliance with intellectual property rights-related trade agreement obligations. This ensures that U.S. companies enjoy access to foreign markets and adequate intellectual property rights protection and enforcement abroad. If individuals experience difficulties protecting or enforcing abroad, OIPR experts can help them by suggesting strategies to evaluate the problem and partnering with Washington, D.C.-based agencies and U.S. embassies around the world to pursue resolution. OIPR also has worked with U.S. government and private sector partners to develop a number of tools and resources to assist U.S. rights holders, including an educational training module on intellectual property rights, country-specific toolkits, and access to volunteer attorneys for a free one-hour consultation.
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known as Europol, formerly the European Police Office and Europol Drugs Unit, is the law enforcement agency of the European Union (EU) formed in 1998 to handle criminal intelligence and combat serious international organized crime and terrorism through cooperation between competent authorities of EU member states. As one of five international partners with the IPR Center, Europol shares many matters of common interest including law enforcement cooperation for the purposes of preventing and combatting counterfeiting and other serious forms of international crime.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - The FBI is an active partner in the National IPR Coordination Center, where it houses its IP headquarters program. FBI program managers maintain oversight of the FBI's dedicated IPR field agents who focus on complex, multi-jurisdictional investigations involving the theft of trade secrets and counterfeit goods that threaten public health and safety.
The OCI conducts investigations that support the public health and safety mission of the FDA. OCI’s investigations focus on criminal violations involving FDA-regulated products such as food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, biologics and veterinary medicines. OCI investigates and contributes to the successful prosecution of those involved in manufacturing and distributing counterfeit FDA-regulated products.
GSA’s mission is to use expertise to provide innovative solutions for our customers in support of their missions and by so doing foster an effective, sustainable, and transparent government for the American people. GSA oversees the business of the U.S. federal government. GSA’s acquisition solutions supplies federal purchasers with cost-effective high-quality products and services from commercial vendors. GSA provides workplaces for federal employees, and oversees the preservation of historic federal properties. Its policies covering travel, property and management practices promote efficient government operations.
With a domestic focus and international reach, INTERPOL Washington, the U.S. National Central Bureau, is a partner of the IPR Center and continues to support intellectual property rights investigations through vast international outreach with INTERPOL’s 189 other member countries and the more than 18,000 federal, state, local and tribal U.S. law enforcement agencies. INTERPOL Washington provides research and analysis within international law enforcement databases, international communication for cooperation within member countries and international lookouts for wanted fugitives.
The Mexican Revenue Service, El Servicio de Administracion Tributaria (SAT), has been a partner agency at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center since 2010. SAT combats the emerging transnational threat of IPR crimes by fostering interaction with associations, partnerships, organizations, Chambers of Commerce and holders of intellectual property rights.
NASA identifies and investigates counterfeit/substandard materials or other unauthorized products that are introduced into the agency’s programs and operations. The success of NASA’s missions and the safety of its personnel depend on the quality and integrity of the component parts used in satellites, rockets, ground communication systems and computers. To help in the ever growing challenge involving counterfeit material, NASA and the Office of Inspector General participate in, collaborate with and provide input to the IPR Center.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is a partner agency at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. The NRC was created as an independent agency by Congress in 1974 to ensure the safe use of radioactive materials for beneficial civilian purposes while protecting people and the environment. The NRC regulates commercial nuclear power plants and other uses of nuclear materials, such as in nuclear medicine, through licensing, inspection and enforcement of its requirements.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is a partner agency at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) crime – copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting – is a growing international phenomenon that generates huge losses for legitimate industry, the economy and the Government of Canada. According to INTERPOL, this type of crime has confirmed links to organized crime and terrorism. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other Canadian law enforcement agencies are committed to undertaking coordinated action to counter the threats posed by IP crime. Contact the RCMP's Intellectual Property Rights Crime section at email@example.com.
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU) conducts global investigations into fraud and corruption affecting major Army acquisition programs, major construction projects and contingency contracting. As a partner member of the IPR Center, MPFU centrally directs and coordinates all major Army procurement and construction fraud investigations that pose a risk to combat readiness and soldier safety as well as to protect the integrity of the Army’s procurement process. Comprised of a relatively small number of highly trained and dedicated civilian agents, MPFU recoveries have returned more than $2 billion dollars to the U.S. Treasury over the past 10 years.
The CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC ensures the safety of consumer products - toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals – and contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.
CBP combats intellectual property rights (IPR) theft, which threatens our economic vitality, the health and safety of our consumers, and our national security. CBP meets these threats head-on with an aggressive IPR strategy built on three pillars—facilitate, enforce, deter. This strategy is supported by modernized laws, technology and processes; partnerships with the private sector, other agencies, and foreign governments; and investments in human capital, outreach and technology. CBP’s strategy operates throughout the international trade process – pre-entry, entry, and post-entry - to achieve its vision for an effective IPR enforcement process. Legitimate cargo is released without delay, infringing goods are intercepted and violators are deterred. As part of its collaborative efforts with other federal agencies, CBP is a partner at the National IPR Coordination Center. CBP supplies more referrals to ICE HSI for criminal investigation than any other agency. CBP also participates in multi-agency operations that target counterfeit and pirated goods.
The IPE promotes U.S. innovation by advocating for the effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights around the world. IPE’s seeks to strengthen economic rules and norms, increase U.S. business and private sector growth and investment, and create market access for U.S. goods and services. The IPE team works closely with economic, commercial and public diplomacy officers at the State Department’s embassies, consulates and missions to ensure that the interests of American rights holders are represented overseas. It also highlights the integral role of intellectual property rights protection in supporting global economic stability. IPE actively participates in multilateral and bilateral negotiations and discussions on intellectual property rights-related issues; distributes training and technical assistance funds to help build law enforcement capacity in developing countries; and directs an international public diplomacy initiative. IPE is also active in interagency efforts to combat trade in counterfeit and pirated goods worldwide.
The VA OIG serves veterans and the public by conducting effective oversight of the programs and operations of the VA through independent audits, inspections, reviews, and investigations. The Office of Investigations (CID) conducts criminal and civil fraud investigations affecting the Veterans Benefits Administration, Veterans Health Administration, National Cemetery Administration, and the VA Central Office.
ICE HSI is the largest investigative arm in the Department of Homeland Security with 6,700 special agents assigned to more than 200 cities throughout the United States and 47 countries around the world. ICE HSI special agents investigate and enforce violations of federal trademark, copyright and patent laws. The IPR Center also manages and supports the ICE HSI commercial fraud program, focusing on commercial imports based on false statements and deceptive business practices. Criminals engaged in IPR violations are often involved in other types of commercial fraud violations. By combining these programs at the IPR Center, ICE HSI is able to take a comprehensive approach to addressing these vulnerabilities.
The NCIS supports the IPR Center through briefings, investigative and operational support, criminal intelligence and information sharing. It focuses on intellectual property rights violations and counterfeit products that enter the U.S. government supply chain, especially when the Department of the Navy is the end user. NCIS is uniquely suited to assist IPR Center taskforce members based on its mission areas, which include economic crimes and procurement fraud investigations and operations.
The USPTO’s enforcement team advises the Administration on intellectual property enforcement issues relating to intellectual property right. It also advises the Administration on bilateral and multilateral negotiation issues related to the enforcement of intellectual property rights. The enforcement team also develops, implements and delivers technical assistance programs and capacity-building educational workshops relating to the enforcement of intellectual property rights, including border measures.
The USPIS is the law enforcement, crime prevention and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service. Its postal inspectors keep the mail free from criminal attacks, and they are trained to ensure mail is safe from biological, chemical, radiological or potentially explosive substances. The USPIS supports intellectual property rights enforcement by partnering with CBP officers and ICE special agents to conduct interdictions and criminal investigations at five critical airports across the country. Postal inspectors are members of numerous federal taskforces that halt the flow of counterfeit financial instruments, pharmaceuticals and other commodities from entering this country. Postal inspectors are also coordinators of Operation Stamp Out, an IPR Center-sponsored campaign to interdict counterfeit postal money orders and other financial instruments shipped to the United States.
The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS OIG) plays a key role in maintaining the integrity and accountability of America’s postal service, its revenue and assets, and its employees. The USPS OIG achieves its mission of helping maintain confidence in the postal system and improving the Postal Service’s bottom line through independent audits and investigations. Audits of postal programs and operations help to determine whether the programs and operations are efficient and cost-effective. Investigations help prevent and detect fraud, waste, and misconduct and have a deterrent effect on postal crimes.