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WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) field offices in Dallas and Tampa were recognized during the 2022 Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Director’s Law Enforcement Awards Ceremony, Dec. 1. FinCEN, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury, safeguards the financial system from illicit use, combats money laundering and related crimes including terrorism, and promotes national security through the strategic use of financial authorities and the collection, analysis, and dissemination of financial intelligence.
The purpose of the awards ceremony, open to nominations from federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, is to recognize law enforcement agencies that have made effective use of Bank Secrecy Act data to obtain a successful prosecution and provide concrete evidence of the value of BSA data to the reporting financial industry.
“HSI special agents are committed to using all legally available tools, information, and resources to protect the Homeland. BSA data, when combined with other investigative information, can illuminate crimes committed by transnational criminal organizations: child exploitation, cybercrime, narcotics, human smuggling, weapons trafficking, and various financial crimes,” said HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Steve Francis. “We will continue to leverage BSA data in the suite of tools HSI utilizes to protect the American people from dynamic transnational threats.”
The BSA requires U.S. financial institutions to assist U.S. government agencies to detect and prevent money laundering – specifically, the act requires financial institutions to keep records of cash purchases of negotiable instruments, file reports of cash transactions exceeding $10,000 (daily aggregate amount), and to report suspicious activity that might signify money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities. HSI special agents and analysts use the full spectrum of BSA reports to supplement and enhance investigations of TCO activity, foreign corruption and sanction evasion, human trafficking, human smuggling, child exploitation, trade-based money laundering, terrorism-related financing, and smuggling of drugs, weapons, and other contraband.
Through the successful use of the BSA, two HSI cases were recognized in the categories of Fraud, Cybercrime (including cybersecurity and virtual currency), and Transnational Criminal Activity. Of the 54 total award recipients, 19 are HSI employees.
HSI Dallas was awarded for its investigation of Ping Express U.S. LLC, where special agents seized more than $3 million. The investigation and dismantlement of Ping Express illuminated a growing trend of digital payment platforms used to remit illicit proceeds to West Africa and other areas. This investigation launched other investigations targeting the customers of Ping Express involved in various criminal activities and identified numerous suspicious foreign bank accounts and entities.
HSI Tampa was awarded for its investigation involving Mark Bjorkman and other co-conspirators for the production and distribution of child sexual exploitation material. The investigation uncovered a connection with an international enterprise based in Florida that operated subscription-based for-profit sexual exploitation of children under the guide of “child modeling” websites. The U.S. expects forfeitures totaling $9.4 million, which are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offenses, in addition to real property located in Florida.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, 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 over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries.
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