Project Shield America

Project Shield America

Project Shield America is an integral part of the ICE counter-proliferation strategy of preventing illegal exporters, targeted foreign countries, terrorist groups and international criminal organizations from trafficking in weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their components. ICE works to stop organized criminal and state-sponsored efforts from obtaining and illegally exporting licensable commodities, technologies, conventional munitions and firearms; exporting stolen property and engaging in financial transactions that support these activities or violate U.S. sanctions and embargoes.

Necessity of Shield America

For decades, adversaries of the U.S. have acquired U.S. and Western technology by various means, both legal and illegal. Such acquisitions have provided these countries with Western research and strategic technology largely without cost and have assisted our adversaries in jeopardizing our soldiers, citizens and national interests.

Strategic technology sought by certain proscribed countries includes:

  • Modern manufacturing technology for the production of microelectronics, computers, digital electronic components and signal processing systems.
  • Technology necessary for the development of aircraft, missile and other tactical weapon delivery systems.
  • All types of advanced signal and weapons detection, tracking and monitoring systems.
  • Technology and equipment used in the construction of nuclear weapons and materials.
  • Biological, chemical warfare agents and precursors, and associated manufacturing equipment.

As with any illegal trade, the exact volume is difficult to measure or even estimate. ICE criminal investigations and seizures indicate, however, that such trade can be valued in the tens of millions of dollars annually. The monetary value of illegal exports discovered by ICE is often secondary to the strategic and potential military value of these products.


ICE has designed and implemented Project Shield America to work in concert with the three-pronged effort of its Export Enforcement Program:

  • Inspection/Interdiction - Specially trained U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors stationed at high threat ports selectively inspect suspect export shipments.
  • Investigations - ICE agents deployed throughout the country initiate and pursue high quality cases which result in the arrest, prosecution and conviction of offenders of the Export Administration Act, Arms Export Control Act, Trading with the Enemy Act, International Emergency Economics Powers Act and other related statutes. ICE investigations aim to detect and disrupt illegal exports before they can cause damage to the national security interests of the United States.
  • International Cooperation - ICE international attaché offices enlist the support of their host governments to initiate new investigative leads and to develop information in support of ongoing domestic investigations.

How American Business Can Help

Project Shield America is not intended to restrict or discourage legitimate U.S. exports. Rather, it is designed to protect the technical accomplishments resulting from American ingenuity and labor. It also prevents our adversaries from achieving technological parity or gaining a military advantage through illegal acquisition of U.S. technology.

Anyone involved in high technology research, development, production or sales are potential acquisition targets. A company may consider a product in development to be insignificant when compared to more publicized, sought after technologies. However, small technological projects can easily be the necessary component to a major technological development. ICE solicits the public’s assistance in providing information related to suspicious acquisition attempts or exports of critical technology, munitions items or services.

ICE recommends that industry partners implement an Export Management System (EMS). An effective EMS comprises the following elements:

  • A policy statement demonstrating senior management's commitment to export control.
  • Identification of positions within the company responsible for export control.
  • An up-to-date training program for employees with exports responsibilities.
  • A program for maintaining records in compliance with export regulations.
  • Periodic internal review of the EMS.
  • A procedure for dealing with violations or non-compliance of exports regulations.
  • A strict policy of reporting suspicious orders or inquiries to U.S. Customs.

If you have information regarding international terrorism, violations of U.S. export laws, or economic sanctions and embargoes, please call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

Red Flags: Indications of Potential Illegal Exports

ICE solicits the assistance of private industry to share information related to suspicious acquisitions of high technology and munitions or services relating to these items. The following are possible indicators of illegal exports or diversions:

  • 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.
  • The customer is willing to pay well in excess of market value for the commodities.
  • The purchaser is reluctant to provide information on the end-use or end-user of the product.
  • The end-use information provided is incompatible with the customary purpose for which the product is designed.
  • The final consignee is a trading company, freight forwarder, export company or other entity with no apparent connection to the purchaser.
  • The customer appears unfamiliar with the product, its application, support equipment or performance.
  • The packaging requirements are inconsistent with the shipping mode or destination.
  • The customer orders products or options that do not correspond with their line of business.
  • The customer has little or no business background.
  • Firms or individuals from foreign countries other than the country of the stated end-user place the order.
  • The order is being shipped via circuitous or economically illogical routing.
  • The customer declines the normal service, training, or installation contracts.
  • The product is inappropriately or unprofessionally packaged (e.g. odd sized/re-taped boxes, hand lettering in lieu of printing, altered labels or labels that cover old ones).
  • The size or weight of the package does not fit the product described.
  • "Fragile" or other special markings on the package are inconsistent with the commodity described.

Recent News

2/4/2013 Del Rio, TX Southwest Texas man extradited from Mexico for smuggling defense articles

1/30/2013 Brownsville, TX Former south Texas police officer pleads guilty to gun-trafficking charges

1/29/2013 Miami, FL ICE deports 3 Colombians convicted of conspiracy to export fighter jet engines to Iran

1/16/2013 New York, NY HSI arrest a Hong Kong man for selling and smuggling stolen US military equipment into the US

1/9/2013 El Paso, TX British businessman sentenced in El Paso to nearly 3 years for aiding and abetting the illegal export of defense articles

12/21/2012 Washington, DC 2 extradited from Singapore in connection with plot to illegally export military antennas

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