According to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), Project Shield America works to prevent organizations from trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. It focuses on illegal exporters, targeted foreign countries, terrorist groups, and international criminal enterprises.
ICE strives to prohibit organized criminal and state-sponsored efforts from receiving as well as transporting “licensable commodities, technologies, conventional munitions and firearms; exporting stolen property and engaging in financial transactions that support these activities or violate U.S. sanctions and embargoes.”
Project Shield America was considered to be a U.S. necessity after other countries began acquiring U.S. technology through legal and illegal methods. These countries have basically stolen technology in order to advance their own, often dangerous and violent, agendas. According to ICE, these desirable forms of technology and information include:
- Modern manufacturing technology for the production of microelectronics, computers, digital electronic components and signal processing systems.
- Technology necessary for the development of aircraft, missile and other tactical weapon delivery systems.
- All types of advanced signal and weapons detection, tracking and monitoring systems.
- Technology and equipment used in the construction of nuclear weapons and materials.
- Biological, chemical warfare agents and precursors, and associated manufacturing equipment.
ICE has estimated that this type of unwanted trade can cost the U.S. and other countries up to tens of millions of dollars each year. The monetary value is, of course, troublesome, but the more immediate concern is the safety of the nation.
In order to combat this growing concern, ICE's Export Enforcement program has implemented a three-pronged effort:
- Inspection: CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) officers have been specially trained and are skilled in inspecting suspect export shipments.
- Investigations: ICE sends its agents to areas throughout the country to investigate “high quality” cases that result in the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of offenders of the Export Administration Act, Arms Export Control Act, Trading with the Enemy Act, International Emergency Economics Powers Act, and other related statutes. The hope is to interrupt illegal export attempts before they threaten or damage national security.
- International Cooperation: It is imperative that other countries join the effort. ICE has offices throughout the world and their personnel request support from the host government in initiating new investigative leads to aid in ongoing domestic investigations.
The hope is not to discourage trade from other nations. Rather, it is to create a safe and legal environment for legitimate imports and exports that will benefit all countries involved. In order to be successful in its efforts, Project Shield America asks American business owners to help be aware of and report suspicious trade behavior. According to ICE, business owners should be on the look-out for some of the following red flags:
- The customer is willing to pay cash for a high value order rather than use a standard method of payment, which usually involves a letter of credit.
- The customer is willing to pay well in excess of market value for the commodities.
- The purchaser is reluctant to provide information on the end-use or end-user of the product.
- The end-use information provided is incompatible with the customary purpose for which the product is designed.
- The final consignee is a trading company, freight forwarder, export company or other entity with no apparent connection to the purchaser.
Do you think is a successful initiative? Have you noticed any changes related to trade in the past few years?