CALEE: Jason Kaplan

El Salvador Legal Attaché Jason Kaplan describes the FBI's role working with Central American law enforcement agencies, including the Transnational Anti-Gang Unit and the Central American Law Enforcement Exchange.

Video Transcript

Before the transnational anti-gang units were set up the investigations in the United States that led to subjects in these countries often came to a dead end.

There was no mechanism for us to really further those investigations.

Since the establishment of the Legat office for the FBI here in 2006 and since the establishment of the transnational anti-gang task force here in 2008-2009, we now have a liaison, a resource that investigators in the United States when they get to that point where they realize that one of their principal subjects is located down here, whether he’s incarcerated or whether he is free, they now have resources where they can go to further that investigation.

Having an ability to dialogue directly with your neighbors is extremely valuable.

When I was here in 2008, I traveled with the Centro Antipandillas Transnacional—the TAG—to Honduras to meet with Honduran police officials.

That was before there was a TAG in Honduras. And the sub-inspector that traveled with me told me it was the first time he had been to Honduras or dialogued directly with the Honduran police.

We aren’t talking about a huge country.

They are neighbors. It would be similar to saying that you’re from Massachusetts and you had never been to Connecticut or that you had never traveled to a neighboring state.

So the amount of information that they exchange and the relationships that they developed endure today. They still have that liaison those people who met on that first visit.

So, I think one of the things about CALEE that has been so valuable is that it develops these relationships between PDs.

And it’s almost never have I been part of a CALEE where two officers from either U.S. departments, different states, maybe, Los Angeles and Houston, meet and start talking about their gang investigations and they have crossover and they start talking about an individual that they both recognize whose been to both their states or he’s been part of cases or has been mentioned and all of a sudden we have just made a connection there, that this is something bigger.

There’s a synergy between the gangs that helps them grow and become stronger and quite frankly as law enforcement we need to develop that same relationship with each other, because they are doing it and if we don’t do it we are going to fall behind.

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