Federal Agency Tracks Down Weapons, Drugs, Smuggling In Central Ohio
It’s the federal agency that helped take down 600 gang members, find millions of dollars in smuggled money, and landed an accused international murderer hiding in Central Ohio.
The Homeland Security Investigations is now the second largest federal investigative agency in the country.
HSI is part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and is second in size to only the FBI.
The division is casting a net that touches practically every criminal enterprise in America. That includes human trafficking, counterfeit merchandise, drug smuggling and gangs.
“We investigate over 400 different federal laws. We touch much more than just immigration and customs,” says Supervisory Special Agent Nathan Emery of the Columbus HSI branch.
Emery says bulk cash smuggling is one of HSI's top priorities. In the past two years, agents along with law enforcement partners seized more than $5.5 million crossing through Ohio's capital city.
“We can take away the drugs. We can stop the illicit contraband from coming in, but when you focus on the money - that's where it really hurts these organizations,” added Emery.
Emery says while HSI cases cover a wide spectrum, what they do every day boils down to protecting Columbus citizens from potential violence.
“A lot of times, we're running into violent situations, where we're running into organizations with weapons - automatic weapons - very violent people who don't want to get caught.”
Just last week, HSI agents arrested a Columbus man named Altin Hasani. He applied for US citizenship, but 10TV has learned agents used biometrics and photo line ups to prove Hasani was the same man accused of a 1990 murder in southeastern Europe.
“Basically, we look at any crime that touches the international border, whether it be the illegal movement of people goods, or money.”
HSI agents are also going directly into central Ohio schools, talking with students about dangers of human and sex trafficking.