“A TLO, who happened to be a state trooper, read the report, and he’s like, ‘Wow, the guy I arrested for DUI, who crashed his vehicle several hours ago, was driving that exact truck,” explains Garcia. “That broke the entire case. We were able to grab him within a matter of hours and the case was solved due to the network.”
The suspect, David Lawless, has since pled not guilty to federal charges of arson and using a destructive device during a crime of violence. He is awaiting trial.
In February 2011, an aware TLO and the CIAC helped put a sexual predator in jail even after he was en route to London’s Heathrow Airport. After investigating a rape in Glendale, a suburb of Denver, Officer Crystal Johnson, who was also a TLO, reached out to the CIAC for help in alerting DHS that 37-year-old Ali Ahmed Abooebdella had boarded a flight for London in hopes of fleeing to Libya, his home country. Before fleeing the United States, Abooebdella savagely beat and tried to sexually assault his neighbor after she invited him into her apartment.
Using the CIAC’s DHS partners, the center confirmed with the TSA that the offender had boarded his flight. Upon arrival at Heathrow, FBI agents met Abooebdella at the gate, arrested him, and extradited him back to Colorado to face charges. He pled guilty to second-degree assault and attempted sexual contact with force in October and was sentenced to 12 years in prison last December.
“Historically law enforcement departments would have to go through lots of red tape to have access to the resources of the federal government,” says Garcia.
These successes and others, say Garcia and Leffler, would have been unthinkable prior to 9-11. That “never would have happened [in such a short time span],” says Garcia. And in the case of Abooebdella, any hesitation would have meant his successful escape to Libya.