NORFOLK, Va. – In order to identify and interdict evolving trade threats that pose a risk to the national security of Hampton Roads, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) signed a memorandum of agreement Tuesday to establish the Port of Norfolk-Newport News, Virginia Trade Enforcement Coordination Center (TECC).

The center will focus on identifying intellectual property rights violations, public health and safety threats, and compliance with import and export laws. It will work with a variety of federal agencies including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Transportation to enforce these laws. The Virginia TECC is the 12th in the country.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Lechleitner and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Atlanta Director of Field Operations Donald F. Yando participated in a signing ceremony at CBP’s Centralized Examination Station in Chesapeake Tuesday. HSI Norfolk Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael K. Lamonea and CBP Norfolk Area Port Director Mark J. Laria will implement the plan throughout Hampton Roads.

“This agreement further strengthens the existing partnership between HSI and CBP in Hampton Roads,” said Lechleitner. “Trade fraud has significant implications for the U.S. economy and consumers, and violators frequently pose potential health and safety threats to the public. HSI is committed to combatting this fraudulent activity with our government partners.”

“CBP is committed to protecting consumers and enforcing U.S. trade laws and the signing of this memorandum of agreement better positions CBP and HSI to identify and stop illegally and fraudulently shipped goods destined to be introduced into the commerce of the United States,” said Yando.

The TECCs are established at the recommendation of a Commercial Fraud Working Group Field Evaluation and Implementation Plan which was issued by HSI and CBP Headquarters in January 2012. One of the recommendations of this plan was to establish integrated commercial fraud units at the field level. Many of the recommendations in the plan were met by integrating CBP and HSI commercial fraud units into the TECCs, which are co-located at ports of entry.

The TECC agreement provides for increased communication and information sharing about foreign imports and commercial fraud investigations. It will help to establish better processes for combating trade fraud and create a united form for pursuing prosecutions.

To report trade fraud, the public can call the HSI Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-ICE or make a report online at www.ICE.gov/tips.