There are a diversity of Federal agencies and law enforcement groups focused on fighting terror. Just as many also concentrate on corporate and industrial crime. Allow me to turn over this month’s Zalud Report to Michael Vanacore, director, strategic investigations for the United States Customs Service.

Vanacore talked to SECURITY about Project Shield America, an integral part of the U.S. Customs overall export control program. It seeks to prevent illegal exporters, terrorist groups and international criminal organizations from trafficking in weapons of mass destruction but also aims at stopping individuals and organizations from obtaining and illegally exporting controlled commodities, technologies, conventional munitions and firearms. Other missions include halting the export of stolen property from the U.S. and money laundering.

Outreach to Businesses

Project Shield America is a U.S. Customs industry outreach program. Its objective is to obtain the assistance and cooperation of those companies involved in the manufacture, sale and/or export of U.S.-origin products and technology.

Liaisons are established between U.S. Customs Special Agents and high technology manufacturers, sometimes through their security executives. Through these established contacts, manufacturers are encouraged to report all suspicious export inquiries to a U.S. Customs Special Agent.

Update Export Controls

Vanacore warns that “even the most seemingly insignificant product, routinely exported by your company, could be an essential component for a foreign military research/development program. Those employees within your company responsible for export control matters should take the time to update themselves on all export laws and regulations. Only with the cooperation and diligent observance of the exporting community can we succeed in preventing the proliferation of advanced conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction.”

The Customs executive suggests that if you have any specific export questions, or wish to report any suspicious inquiries, please contact your nearest U.S. Customs Service, Office of Investigations at or 1 800 BE ALERT.

If you are concerned about a transaction or customer, Vanacore suggests that you do not alert the customer and that you get as much information as you can regarding the customer without arousing suspicions.

SIDEBAR 1: Red Flag Indicators

According to the U.S. Customs Service:

1. The customer is willing to pay cash for a high-value order rather than use a standard method of payment, which usually involves a letter of credit.

2. The customer is willing to pay well in excess of market value for the commodities.

3. The purchaser is reluctant to provide information on the end use, or end user, of the product.

4. The end-use information provided is incompatible with the customary purpose of the product.

5. The final consignee is a trading company, freight forwarder, export company or other entity with no apparent connection to the purchaser.

6. The customer appears unfamiliar with the product, its application, support equipment or performance.

7. The packaging requirements are inconsistent with the shipping mode or destination.

8. The customer orders products or options that do not correspond with their line of business.

9. The customer has little or no business background.

10. The order is placed from foreign countries other than the country of the stated end user.

11. The order is being shipped via circuitous or economically illogical routing.