Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are highly active in New York State, addressing a number of the unique factors that contribute to the high level of criminal activity there. In 2012, New York had the fourth highest level of illegal immigrants of any state in the country, with an estimated population of 875,000.
Drug traffickers are active throughout New York, and New York City itself is actually the prime destination for heroin smuggled into the US. The proceeds from this illegal activity are laundered through New York based businesses and other front operations, allowing the funds to be sent back to the source countries without a trace.
In addition to money laundering through the banking system, dirty money from criminal activity is frequently converted into gold or gems making it more difficult to track. This is a particular problem in New York City—an international market for the jewelry and precious metal industries. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been working tirelessly to reverse this trend by working closely with the finance industry to investigate suspected money-laundering operations.
Applying to Become an ICE Agent in New York
ICE has rigorous requirements for those seeking jobs with the agency. Before they can apply, applicants must meet a number of requirements. These include such basics as being a US citizen and being younger than 37. ICE hires a number of veterans, who may be exempt from the age requirement.
Educational Requirements – To become an ICE agent, applicants must have a high level of education. This can include one of the following:
- Having completed a year of graduate school
- Having obtained a bachelor’s degree with a mark of distinction
Applicants who have a 3.5 average in courses for their major or a 3.0 in all of their courses are exempt from the requirement of graduate study. The average can be for either the final two years of study or their whole period of study.
Other ways to demonstrate distinction include one of the following:
- Election to a national honor society
- A rank in the top third of their class
Applicants with experience in law enforcement or criminal investigations may be exempt from part of the educational requirement.
Applying for ICE Jobs – When they have met the requirements, individuals seeking careers as special agents (criminal investigators) should monitor the website for federal jobs where ICE posts available positions.
Individuals seeking more information about the application process can contact the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) in New York City.
Training Program – Recruits learn how to become an ICE agent through rigorous training at the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Georgia. The 22-week program includes training in the following areas:
- Firearms Training
- Physical conditioning
ICE Efforts to Fight Money Laundering in New York
While the act of money laundering has always been a threat to U.S. security, intelligence suggests that the proceeds from drug trafficking are increasingly being used to fund terrorist operations. ICE leads the El Dorado Task Force—a huge multi-agency task force that targets financial crimes in the New York/New Jersey HIDTA (high intensity drug trafficking area).
One of their early successes was Operation Meltdown. This investigation led to the dismantling of a large-scale money laundering operation in which the proceeds from the sale of drugs were sent back to Columbia in the form of gold.
To avoid detection, gold was melted down and made into an array of commonly used products that could be disguised. This included trailer hitches and bolts. Assets recovered included:
- Cash: $2.8 million
- Gold: approximately $1.4 million
- Diamonds: approximately $1 million
High Profile Immigration and Customs Enforcement Arrests in New York
A number of people have been arrested for an array of crimes in New York as a result of the activities of ICE agents. Some of the prominent arrests from the latter half of 2013 and early 2014 are described below.
Illegal Arms Trafficking – In a multi-agency investigation that included ICE, two brothers were arrested in New York City for illegally shipping high-powered weapons to the Philippines for sale to overseas customers. The weaponry included several rifles designed for military use, including a Berretta M82A1 .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle capable of penetrating body armor and aircraft.
Drug Trafficking – A Canadian citizen pled guilty to charges that he was involved in trafficking cocaine internationally. With co-conspirators, he brought over 1,600 kilograms of cocaine from the US into Canada.
Investigators in Rochester were able to infiltrate an international drug trafficking ring that smuggled synthetic drugs from China into a number of states and countries. Eight people from Rochester were arrested and face a possible sentence of 20 years in prison and/or a $1 million fine.
Large-scale SSDI Fraud – ICE was part of an extensive investigation involving a number of law enforcement agencies that identified massive fraud in the Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) program. Four main defendants were indicted for directing hundreds of SSDI applicants to lie about having psychiatric conditions in order to get SSDI benefits. The scheme cost federal taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.