The FBI's involvement in the maritime domain is a result of existing US Law, Executive Orders, Presidential Decision Directives (PDD) 39, 62, & 63, and Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 5 to include a few. Specifically, the FBI has a lead role for operational and investigative response to a terrorist threat or incident, as well as coordinating the activities of other members of the law enforcement community to detect, prevent, pre-empt, and disrupt terrorist attacks against the United States.
However, the task is monumental and the FBI’s maritime experience is limited. The FBI is currently focusing on developing liaison relationships within the commercial cruise and cargo lines, yachting/boat sales industry, specialty nautical stores, marinas, dive shops, and maritime-related businesses. The FBI’s hope is that such a focus will serve three purposes:
(1) Gather "intelligence" from subject-matter experts in the maritime field who can observe/know through observation when something is suspicious.
(2) Develop a specific industry network within which the FBI can disseminate relevant intelligence information that we receive.
(3) Learn and become more effective investigators.
The FBI functions within the "Joint Terrorism Task Force" (JTTF) concept. Specifically, it works side-by-side with designated representatives from the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), United States Coast Guard (USCG), Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and local law enforcement. Nationally the FBI has established Maritime Liaison Agents at all field offices that have a nexus to maritime matters.
To date the Florida FBI Maritime Liaison office have investigated maritime matters involving threats (bomb/WMD) to vessels, illegal boardings by activist groups, smuggling (weapons/explosives/aliens/drugs), false mariner documents, unlicensed money transmitting, hijacking of vessels, and suspicious activities (photo taking/strange customer requests/purchase of night vision devices & underwater delivery systems by individuals from "threat countries"). The FBI also investigates criminal matters in the maritime jurisdiction including murder, sexual battery/assault, battery/assault, missing persons, and suicide investigations. The Florida FBI office territory extends from the Brevard County line (which is covered by the Fort Pierce office) to the Florida Keys.
The office welcomes any contact from the industry and said no contact is too trivial, and confidentiality will be maintained. Contact the Florida FBI Maritime Liaisons at:
Telephone: 305-944-9101 (24 hour duty agent) Ask for a Maritime Agent.