The Cook County Regional Organized Crime Task Force kicked off 2023 with a packed house on Jan. 20 in North Riverside, IL. Agents from various law enforcement groups were in attendance including Homeland Security, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service, Illinois Attorney General’s Office, US Postal Inspectors, and Chicago PD, among many others. Retailers were also well represented from big box, department store, and specialty ORC team members. In all, over 100 people attended the meeting.
Hosts Dave Williams from the Illinois State Attorney’s office and Ed Hinkel from Walmart led the meeting and started off with two case profiles that resulted in the takedown of two criminal networks.
Synchrony Financial Representatives and Vice Presidents fo the Special Investigations Team Mark Solomon and Jeff Waterman presented a case from Chicago. They walked the group through an aggressive identity theft crime and provided tips on ways to obtain case information without the time and headache of a subpoena.
Officers Jason Bromwich and Chris Fenton from the Chesterfield, Missouri police department presented a case where the subject had mastered the art of using Facebook to market his ill gotten wares, even going so far as to take orders through the app and set up a brick and mortar shop. He had been operating as the central hub for years in this manner. After navigating a somewhat complicated legal system of qualifying offences and serving a warrant on Facebook, the officers partnered with retailers and Flock Safety to track and eventually apprehend the subject. The strong message from the officers to loss prevention teams is: “Help PD close these cases by calling the police, doing your reports, and providing video. You are the victims and we just want to help you.
Ken Velasquez, CFI, asset protection specialist with 7-11, spoke about their cooperation with law enforcement and ability to pull video when needed by using their highly efficient internal team. Ken encouraged those in attendance to reach out, and 7-11 would be there to help.
The meeting wrapped up with a timely topic that the public is just becoming more familiar with. HSI Intelligence Analyst Cameron McDougal spoke about cryptocurrency and its use in money laundering by organized criminals. McDougal provided an overview of the history of cryptocurrency and educated the group on its current role in hiding illegal profits. As the criminal networks continue to evolve their methods, so do law enforcement’s investigative techniques. McDougal walked those present through recent cases, including the advanced software that was used to follow money through the labyrinth of the crypto banking system.
The CCROC 2023 Annual Conference will be on August 8 and 9 at the Homeland Security Training Institute in Glen Ellyn, IL. More information to follow on www.CCROC.org.