Australia passes leadership of Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group to the US

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SAN DIEGO – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) formally assumed chair of the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group (FELEG), on Oct. 14, during a ceremony at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Annual Conference and Exposition in San Diego, California. During the two-year tenure, the U.S. chair of FELEG is ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with close collaboration with other U.S. government federal law enforcement partners. ICE Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Patrick J. Lechleitner formally accepted the role from Commissioner Reece Kershaw of the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

“The importance our FELEG partnership plays in combatting transnational organized crime cannot be overstated,” said Lechleitner. “HSI is committed to working with FELEG partners to advance efforts to combat crime throughout the globe.”

Commissioner Kershaw congratulated ICE on assuming the chair of FELEG. “Recent world events make FELEG as relevant today as it was at the time of its inception, however, I would argue FELEG has never been more important. And that is because global instability is helping to fuel and embolden organized crime; criminals have weaponized technology and have become ruthlessly efficient at finding victims, and state actors and citizens from some nations are using our countries at the expense of our sovereignty and economies. And moreover, the world has never been smaller. Criminals are no longer bound by, or deterred by, state borders. It means we must ensure FELEG remains a law enforcement shape shifter – one that is agile and unpredictable to organized crime and other threats that undermine our safety and security. I am convinced that under the leadership of ICE, with all our partners, FELEG will continue to be among the first lines of defense in guarding the rule of law and keeping our citizens safe.”

Graeme Biggar, Director General of the UK’s National Crime Agency said: “Serious and organized crime causes more harm, to more people, more often, than any other national security threat. It is a constant challenge to keep ahead of the evolving threat. The transnational nature of serious and organized crime means we can’t – and don’t – act alone. We work in close partnership with law enforcement and intelligence agencies across the world to assess the threat, and take effective action with partners to minimize and eradicate it. The Five Eyes agencies are some of our closest partners and we are proud to be part of the collaboration. The NCA has valued Commissioner Kershaw’s and the Australian Federal Police’s leadership of the group for the last two years, and know that Deputy Director Lechleitner and ICE will bear the torch with similar dedication, innovation, and drive.”

“The RCMP remains committed to a productive and collaborative relationship with its Five Eyes partners through the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group. As HSI takes on the role of FELEG Chair over the next two years, we look forward to continuing to jointly advance global law enforcement initiatives and disrupting criminal networks.” Bonnie Ferguson, Assistant Commissioner, Federal Policing Criminal Operations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

FELEG is a collaborative intelligence-sharing law enforcement community that includes representatives from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), HSI, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AFP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the U.K. National Crime Agency, and the New Zealand Police. The chair rotates through the heads of these agencies every two years.

Associated operations are conducted by working groups that concentrate on specific criminal or functional areas. These groups include the Criminal Intelligence Advisory Group, which addresses organized crime and drug-related operations; the Money Laundering Group, which focuses on money laundering activities; the Cyber Crime Working Group, whose goal is to identify the sophisticated perpetrators operating key cybercriminal services in the cyber underground marketplace; and the Technical Working Group, which facilitates the technical means for inter-agency communications and information exchange.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

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