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Helping End Smuggling and Human Trafficking

Around the world, financial hardship, political instability, and violence are persistent threats to societies. Marginalized people living under such conditions desperately wish to improve their lives and those of their families, often by emigrating to countries with better prospects. However, when those dreams are thwarted by legal restrictions and complex processes, many turn to extralegal ways to cross political borders. In doing so, they often put themselves at the mercy of smugglers for hire. 

International criminal organizations have become major participants in the lucrative business of human smuggling, creating a brutal economy rife with abuse. These gangs exploit the desperate by sending people across borders under dangerous conditions, putting them in harm’s way. Common scenarios include smuggling in overburdened watercraft, in sweltering containers on ships or trucks, or on foot across dangerous terrain. Making matters worse, the criminals may exploit smuggled people further on arrival, forcing them into everything from physical labor, to prostitution, to participating in illicit scams on other victims. 

Smugglers work hard to make victims invisible to authorities at every stage of this journey, which often spans large geographic areas. International border crossings present fleeting opportunities for domestic authorities to detect smuggling operations, before they disperse. This is a complex undertaking that demands rapid detection and response along border zones that may be hundreds or thousands of miles long. Effective enforcement depends on the integration of efforts among agencies from multiple countries and jurisdictions. Lawful intelligence and especially location intelligence play a significant role in the disrupting these networks. 

Detecting and Disrupting Human Smuggling 

A key lawful intelligence challenge in detecting smuggling parties is that the people being smuggled are likely unidentified, so they have not been designated as subjects of interest. The smugglers themselves are typically low-level figures within criminal organizations, whose role may likewise be unknown to law enforcement. These circumstances complicate active search for crossings in progress, because there are no specific parties or devices to target. Instead, enforcement activities focus on data patterns and anomalies for detection. 

Bulk-gathered passive location data can indicate when groups assemble in unexpected times and places, without requiring knowledge of the identities of the parties involved. Geofencing, which involves mapping a geometric area where people’s arrival and departure can be detected, enhances this intelligence gathering. For example, a cluster of SIM cards suddenly activating in a geofenced area at a port of entry might indicate the arrival of a shipping container that holds smuggled people. Similar mechanisms can monitor groups converging at a remote section of the border. 

As historical passive location data accumulates, frequent activity at specific sites can reveal smuggling routes, while the recurring presence of one individual over time can expose the smugglers themselves. Combining this information with open-source intelligence and other data, helps build a dossier of intelligence against suspects, potentially leading to warrants or other authorization for lawful interception. Active lawful intelligence measures can then be brought to bear in the investigation, identifying associations and patterns of life to build a case. 

Meeting Enforcement Challenges 

In the passive location use cases described above, where SIMs are detected at the border, speed is of the essence. Authorities must act quickly, before people leave the monitored geofenced area. SS8’s platform provides real-time location intelligence, integrating other live and historical data sources across all network types from 2G to 5G, using a single platform. 

The bulk collection of location data from every network-connected device in a country’s border region can be overwhelming for both technology solutions and analysts.  Intellego XT aggregates data from multiple location platforms and network elements, with support for over 200 million subscribers generating multiple updates every minute. 

Creating actionable intelligence location and other intelligence data to assist with investigation and enforcement requires robust analysis tools. Intellego XT layers multiple data sets onto a single map, such as passive location tracking in a geofenced area with active location and intercepted communications of subjects of interest. The SS8 platform also provides real-time and historic visualizations that transform raw data into human-readable, intuitive form, such as cluster maps and heat maps. These mechanisms help law enforcement track illicit border crossings as they happen and investigate the individuals and organizations responsible, advancing the mission to disrupt them. 

About Simon Patten 

Simon joined SS8 following a 30-year career with British Telecommunications Plc in the UK. For the majority of this time, Simon held senior sales and general management positions working with the defense, security and law enforcement agencies. He led teams selling and delivering a diverse range of solutions, including major national and international networks, computer network defense, and other security-based capabilities. Simon holds a BA in Business Studies and gained his MSC as a Sloan Fellow of the London Business School. You can view his LinkedIn profile here. 

About SS8 Networks

As a leader in Lawful and Location Intelligence, SS8 helps make societies safer. Our commitment is to extract, analyze, and visualize the critical intelligence that gives law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and emergency services the real-time insights that help save lives. Our high performance, flexible, and future-proof solutions also enable mobile network operators to achieve regulatory compliance with minimum disruption, time, and cost. SS8 is trusted by the largest government agencies, communications providers, and systems integrators globally.

Intellego® XT monitoring and data analytics portfolio is optimized for Law Enforcement Agencies to capture, analyze, and visualize complex data sets for real-time investigative intelligence.

LocationWise delivers the highest audited network location accuracy worldwide, providing active and passive location intelligence for emergency services, law enforcement, and mobile network operators.

Xcipio® mediation platform meets the demands of lawful intercept in any network type and provides the ability to transcode (convert) between lawful intercept handover versions and standard families.

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