Extensive forensic capacity strengthens ICE investigations
Those working in the latent fingerprint section apply scientific expertise and analysis to all areas of the survey program, and their services include latent fingerprint processing, ink fingerprint examinations, comparisons, database searches, expert testimony and on-the-job training. In addition to supporting a number of high profile ongoing investigations, the Latent Fingerprint Section participates in the HSI Special Agent Cadet Program and provides ongoing assistance to the agency’s evidence recovery teams.
In 2015, a man from Hartford, Connecticut, pleaded guilty to attempting to send extensive electronic documents and data to Iran containing highly sensitive documents, trade secrets and export control relating to military jet engines. Americans, which he had stolen from several US defense contractors where he had previously been employed. An ICE HSI Forensic Laboratory fingerprint specialist deployed to Los Angeles to support the investigation and was able to retrieve latent fingerprints from various boxes used to ship sensitive material, which was a key step in proving that the suspect in the case was the individual who attempted to ship the checked items.
In terms of volume, the ICE HSI Forensic Laboratory processed over 1,500 requests for document and fingerprint examinations from various agencies in fiscal year 2015. Of these, 1,145 were examinations. latent and inked fingerprints and 404 were reviews of questioned documents. The latent fingerprint section processed over 22,000 pieces of evidence and the interrogated documents section processed over 14,000 pieces of evidence.
Another impressive component of the HSI Forensic Laboratory is its Reference Library, which includes over 300,000 genuine, counterfeit and altered travel and identity documents and related reference documents. Like the laboratory itself, the Reference Library is unique within the federal government and remains the primary resource for scientific authentication, research and analysis of travel and identity documents and related matters.
With sample documents provided by over 200 countries, forensic scientists use the library to authenticate the documents in question and to examine known methods of counterfeiting and alteration. Staff in the operations section of the laboratory use the library to prepare training materials, produce intelligence alerts and reference guides, and respond in real time to requests from officers, agents and investigators in the field. In addition, other agencies, such as the State Department, rely on the library for research and reference.
Copies of several Saudi passports linked to some of the 9/11 hijackers are both an example of the type of work being done at the HSI Forensic Lab and a chilling daily reminder of the overall mission of the Department of Homeland Security. , some of which were recovered from the crash site of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. In the days following the terrorist attacks, the FBI submitted these passports suspected of being used by hijackers to the HSI Forensic Laboratory for examination. The forensic examination and analysis determined that the passports, along with the visas they contained, were in fact genuine.