Allied Universal Acquires Atlanta-Based SecurAmerica

Allied Universal, a leading security and facility services company in North America, recently announced the acquisition of SecurAmerica — a privately held, Atlanta, Georgia-based security company with 49 offices located throughout the United States. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

SecurAmerica was founded by Frank Argenbright, a Georgia entrepreneur who, over the past 40 years, has built both security and facilities management companies with operations around the world, beginning with Argenbright Security in 1979. In 2005, Argenbright launched SecurAmerica with the goal of becoming the first US-based, privately held security company to compete globally. His company now operates in over 100 markets with revenues exceeding $467 million and more than 13,500 employees.

“I have personally known Frank for over 20 years,” said Steve Jones, Chairman & CEO of Allied Universal. “He has accomplished so much in the security industry and to have an opportunity to bring SecurAmerica into Allied Universal is a huge personal achievement and a major strategic goal for the organization. SecurAmerica is a demonstrated leader in the security industry and their people and culture will fit perfectly into Allied Universal and our long-term organizational plans.”

In 2014, SecurAmerica acquired American Security Programs, a wholly-owned subsidiary that services cleared commercial and government contracts. The company’s government division provides a wide range of asset protection and security services to the governmental sector and commercially cleared clients and possesses top levels of federal security clearances and has strong relations with government agencies.

“SecurAmerica experienced great growth since the company’s inception in 2005,” said Argenbright. “SecurAmerica looks forward to partnering with Steve Jones and his team. It is my belief that becoming part of an organization with the scale, technology focus, and depth of service that Allied Universal offers will afford SecurAmerica enhanced opportunities for success in the future.”

North Korea Border Closure Made for Challenging Trip Home

Employees of the Russian Embassy in North Korea were left with a difficult choice when North Korea closed their borders at the start of the coronavirus outbreak a year ago: stay out the pandemic in North Korea or find a way home on their own. The employees and their families decided to get creative and find a way home.

The trip included a day and a half by rail, then a bus trip of a couple of hours, followed by walking on foot to the Russian border. The rail portion was accomplished by use of a hand pushed rail cart. Images show the fleeing group with their possessions in the cart on the railway. Some adults are pushing the cart along the tracks while children and other family members ride in the cart with their belongings.

The image here, shared by the Russian Foreign Ministry, shows the group on the rail bridge over the Tumannaya River. The river is on the border with North Korea.

Camero-Tech Launches Xaver Long Range system

Camero-Tech is launching the Xaver LR80 (XLR80) system, which enables detection of live objects behind walls, at distances of more than 100 meters. This new capability provides a breakthrough operational advantage in a hostile environment.

Special forces and law enforcement teams conducting urban and rural operations require reliable information regarding hidden live objects to determine the most suitable approach to ensure successful missions and life-saving. Penetrating through walls from a remote location, the XLR80 creates an unprecedented, real-time situational awareness picture of whether there are people present beyond the wall, and if so, how many, their exact distance and their direction of movement. The system is also highly sensitive for detecting unseen micro movements of static live objects. Being able to achieve these capabilities and the high sensitivity, is a game changer in various operational scenarios, the company says.

Controlled by a tablet with a simple user interface for intuitive interpretation, the XLR80 features integrated data recording and playback for post-mission analysis, training and debriefing. A dedicated sight is used for accurately directing the narrow beam of the system to the target. The system can be operated by a single user and it is ready for use by a push of a button, says the company.

“For the first time, the operator in the field has the ability to see through walls at such long distance,” says Amir Beeri, CEO of Camero. “We have developed unique technology on which the XLR80 system is based on. An innovative Ultra-Wideband (UWB) sensor supported by patented algorithms and signal processing, provides the user with real time situational awareness while staying safe at more than 100 meters away from the target.”

The new XLR80 system is the latest addition to Camero’s Xaver family of products, which includes the Xaver 100, 400 and 800 and has beenn successfully deployed by elite customers around the world in military, law enforcement, intelligence and search and rescue applications.

The XLR80 is completely radiation safe by meeting international standards for human exposure.

DHS Stops Counterfeit N95 Masks from Reaching Hospital Workers

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) federal agents report they have seized approximately 11 million counterfeit 3M N95 respirator masks in recent weeks, the result of ongoing collaboration between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and manufacturer 3M to prevent counterfeit masks from reaching hospital workers and first responders.

“These seizures illustrate the ongoing efforts of HSI, CBP, and private industry in keeping our communities and medical staff safe and free from counterfeit products,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “Often, this battle is fought behind the scenes and is unknown to the general public, but you can be assured that the DHS workforce remains firmly committed to protecting the health and safety of our medical workers, the American public, and the integrity of the American economy.” “The public-private partnerships that are the hallmark of the IPR Center allow for swift and decisive action to protect consumers from fraudulent and potentially harmful or even deadly products. This work which is important on a blue-sky day to protect consumers, U.S. businesses, and the U.S. economy, is even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson. “The IPR Center with its many government agency and industry partners are unified in their commitment to fight COVID-related fraud.”

The most recent enforcement actions occurred today, with special agents seizing hundreds of thousands of counterfeit masks from an east coast warehouse as part of an ongoing investigation into a criminal enterprise distributing counterfeit masks throughout the U.S. In the past two weeks, HSI has conducted multiple criminal search warrants and seized counterfeit masks in operations conducted in five states, from coast to coast, with more enforcement actions expected in the coming weeks. Since many of the counterfeit masks are produced abroad, HSI also works closely with its international law enforcement partners around the world to pursue leads into sources of supply and prevent shipments of counterfeit products from reaching U.S. shores.

The initial leads came to the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center last week through 3M, which shared reports of suspected counterfeits being purchased for healthcare workers. HSI mobilized quickly, initiating multi-state investigations into the individuals and organizations looking to profit from the sale and distribution of counterfeit N95 respirators.

At the same time, HSI notified about six thousand suspected victims of the fraud, in at least 12 states, including hospitals, medical facilities and others who may have purchased medical masks from the illicit dealers, urging them to immediately stop using the masks and to contact HSI immediately.

“3M is proud to partner with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help combat counterfeiting of 3M N95 respirators,” said Kevin Rhodes, 3M Deputy General Counsel. “This collaboration has helped prevent millions of counterfeit respirators from reaching frontline workers. We are committed to fighting the pandemic from all angles – manufacturing needed PPE, working to prevent counterfeiting, and helping ensure N95s get to where they are needed the most.”

The cases that resulted in the recent seizures of counterfeit masks are being conducted under HSI’s Operation Stolen Promise, an initiative launched in April 2020 to protect the Homeland from the increasing and evolving threat posed by COVID-19-related fraud and criminal activity.

As of Feb. 10, HSI has seized more than $33 million in illicit proceeds; made 227 arrests; served 222 criminal search warrants; opened 862 investigations; and analyzed nearly 80,000 COVID-19 domain names pursuant to Operation Stolen Promise. Working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 1,800 shipments of mislabeled, fraudulent, unauthorized or prohibited COVID-19 test kits, personal protective equipment, and other related items have been seized. These actions have kept counterfeit and substandard goods out of the supply chain and out of the hands of the general public and medical professionals; have protected individuals, businesses, and the financial system from fraud; have ensured the integrity of online marketplaces and COVID-19 related websites; and have resulted in violators being held accountable for their criminal efforts to exploit the pandemic for profit.

IAI Introduces a New Electro-Optical Surveillance System- MegaPOP

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is expanding its family of electro-optical/IR payloads with the introduction of MegaPOP. The electro-optical payload, which was developed by TAMAM, IAI’s electro-optical and navigation system house. 

The new payload is designed for land applications such as marine or land border control, surveillance of sensitive facilities, or any other operational mission that requires especially lengthy surveillance performance,  as well as high-definition vision capabilities with a system that uses several sensors, simultaneously. 

MegaPOP simultaneously tapes a video on a thermal/ HD channel with night vision, a color daylight HD channel and an innovative HD SWIR technology channel. The continuous zoom capability provides the end-user with high quality output even under highly challenging visual conditions. The system features an exceptionally long range of surveillance augmented by multispectral capabilities. It offers an extraordinary range of sensors that can be used together and a range of laser capabilities. Additional system features include digital tracking, specialized image processing, and additional methods of data processing and automating surveillance capabilities. A built-in gyro stabilizing system ensures stable imaging under all environmental conditions. MegaPOP has magnetic-independent, highly-accurate northing capability to assist in managing target datum points. Advanced digital interfaces allow simplified control even from remote control posts and operational work that involves additional sensors, including: ELINT, COMINT, and more.

Vehicle Scanning at Border Made Mandatory by New U. S. Law

On January 5, 2021 a new act, The Securing America’s Ports Act, was signed into existence requiring “a plan to expeditiously scan all commercial and passenger vehicles entering the United States at a land port of entry using large-scale non-intrusive inspection systems, such as X-ray and gamma-ray imaging systems, or similar technology,” the summary says.

The rule gives 180 days from enactment, which would be this summer, for the Department of Homeland Security to give a report to the Committee on Homeland security and others outlining what it will take to increase to “100 percent the rate of high-throughput scanning of commercial passenger vehicles and freight rail traffic entering the United States at land ports of entry and rail-border crossings along the border using large-scale non-intrusive inspection systems or similar technology to enhance border security.”

The concern is that the requirement will cause traffic congestion at the borders and ports and disrupt the supply chain.

UK Transport Secretary Launches £794 million Investment to Boost Rail Links in North and South

A £794 million investment package to reopen two important rail routes closed more than 50 years ago was announced 23 January 2021 by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The new funding includes £760 million for the delivery of the next phase of East West Rail, which will create 1,500 skilled jobs, and reinstate direct rail services between Bicester and Bletchley for the first time since 1968.

It also includes £34 million to rapidly progress plans to reopen the Northumberland line between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Ashington, which closed to passengers in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts.

The Transport Secretary has also today called on local authorities, MPs and community groups to submit bids for a share of the third and final round of the Department for Transport’s Ideas Fund, designed to encourage proposals to reopen railway lines, services and stations.

The announcement forms part of the government’s commitments to build back better from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and level up transport infrastructure across the country by investing in rail connections that will boost economic growth, unlock new housing, and create jobs and opportunity.

“Restoring railways helps put communities back on the map, and this investment forms part of our nationwide effort to build back vital connections and unlock access to jobs, education and housing,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said. “Returning these routes to their former glory, and progressing work to reopen even more lines and stations shows our commitment to levelling up journeys across the country as we build back better from the pandemic. “

“We are delighted that the government has shown a big commitment to East West Rail and the Oxford-Cambridge arc with today’s investment decision. This funding will enable us to get on with the construction work that will connect communities who live on the East West Rail link. We are committed to improving connectivity across the Oxford-Cambridge arc, and fully recognize our responsibility to ensure that it is delivered in a way that minimizes disruption, supports the regional economy, maximises benefits and supports jobs across the region,” said Simon Blanchflower, CEO at East West Railway Company.

Today’s funding marks an important milestone in the delivery of East West Rail, which will provide better connectivity along the Oxford-Cambridge arc and shorten journey times between routes outside of London, boosting economic growth and serving major new housing developments.

The works between Bicester and Bletchley are expected to create 1,500 jobs. This phase of the project will include the construction of a new stations at Winslow, as well as enhancements to existing stations along the route, including Bletchley. By 2025, 2 trains per hour will run between Oxford and Milton Keynes via Bletchley.

The investment on the Northumberland line will fund preparatory works, including land acquisition, detailed design work and early site works.

“This is absolutely fantastic news, and means we can now finalise our plans to deliver this transformational project for both Northumberland and the wider region,” Northumberland County Council Leader Glen Sanderson said. “The Northumberland line will bring a huge boost to the area in terms of economic growth, housing, employment and education opportunities, as well as providing a fast and efficient new transport link between the south-east of the county and Tyneside.”

Plans for the project include new stations at Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth Bebside, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park in North Tyneside, as well as upgrades to the track and changes to level crossings where bridges or underpasses may need to be built.

The latest round of the Ideas Fund will run until 5 March 2021 with successful bids due to be announced later this summer.

During National Human Trafficking Awareness Month ICE Emphasized Confronting the Global Issue

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) observed National Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January to bring attention to the international crime and the work of law enforcement to deter human trafficking, bring traffickers to justice and to assist victims. Human trafficking centers on exploitation and is considered a form of modern slavery.

“ICE is committed to leveraging every resource it has at its disposal to confront the threat of human trafficking, to support the victims and survivors, and to hold traffickers accountable for their monstrous crimes,” said Angie Salazar, DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT) acting director in last month. “Though this fight continues year-round, the month of January gives us the opportunity to showcase these efforts and highlight our contribution to this global movement to disrupt and dismantle sex trafficking, forced labor organizations and profiteers.”

Human trafficking generally takes two forms. Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age. Or, the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

In October 2020, DHS stood up the CCHT, an ICE-led center that integrates DHS investigative and enforcement operations, victim assistance, intelligence, outreach and training to effectively respond to human trafficking on a global scale.

The DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking, is the U.S. government’s first-ever integrated law enforcement operations center directly supporting federal criminal investigations, victim assistance efforts, intelligence analysis, and outreach and training activities related to human trafficking and forced labor.

In fiscal year 2020, ICE arrested 1,746 individuals in connection with human trafficking and identified and assisted more than 400 victims. The top five locations for human trafficking criminal arrests by HSI were Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Phoenix, Arizona; and Tampa, Florida.

Nationwide, ICE participates in a variety of human trafficking awareness events in January and throughout the year to educate medical professionals, key industries and the general public to identify indicators of trafficking activities. The recognition of human trafficking by others can save a victim’s life and help the investigation and prosecution of traffickers.

Parsons’ RailPulse Reduces Reporting Time, Improves Diagnostics

Parsons Corporation announced the company’s new RailPulse solution, a software product that unlocks data generated by Positive Train Control (PTC) systems to allow more efficient troubleshooting, reporting and diagnostics. Providing an automated solution to reporting and diagnostics, including required Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reporting, Parsons says RailPulse can significantly reduce the time and cost required for these efforts, compared to manual efforts.

“Railroads are a critical component of the transportation ecosystem and offer an efficient and sustainable way to transport millions of people and tons of freight between our communities,” said Tom Topolski, executive vice president, connected communities market for Parsons. “With PTC implementations complete, railroads are now seeking solutions to maximize the value of these important safety systems. Our team is dedicated to developing technology-driven solutions to help streamline transportation, and Parsons’ latest innovation, RailPulse, helps passenger and freight rail owners and operators better understand their data to improve performance, efficiency and safety.”

RailPulse integrates directly with PTC systems messaging layer to capture the conversation, providing customized analysis to help railroad owners and operators make more informed decisions that improve performance and generate cost efficiencies. Including modules for log viewings, FRA reporting, wayside, spatial analysis, and grade crossings, RailPulse is designed to evolve as FRA reporting requirements change and the platform can be customized to meet the needs of all commercial or passenger railroads.

Amtrak CEO Calls for Expanding “No Fly List” To Rail Service

After the violent attack on the U. S. Capitol in January, the Amtrak Rail CEO Bill Flynn released a statement urging the Transportation Security Administration to expand the “No Fly List” to the rail system. Here is his statement in full:

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our employees. Since the start of the pandemic, our dedicated frontline employees have kept our trains running, providing a vital transportation service to essential workers. We join our labor partners in continuing to call upon Congress and the Administration to make assaults against rail workers a Federal crime, as it is for aviation workers, and to expand the TSA’s “No Fly List” to rail passenger service.

Amtrak CEO William Flynn

“After last week’s violent attack on the U.S. Capitol,  we are taking extra steps to continue ensuring the safety of our employees and customers in Washington DC and across our network as we prepare for the Inauguration. In addition to limiting ticket sales and requiring masks to be worn at all times, we are increasing our police enforcement to ensure strong compliance, remove noncomplying customers and ban those that don’t follow our policies. This includes deploying additional Amtrak Police officers onboard our trains and in our stations to support our frontline staff, and utilizing additional support from TSA and partner law enforcement agencies.

“The Amtrak Police Department is a member of the steering committee for the upcoming Inaugural Ceremonies and has prepared a robust strategy to secure our stations, trains and infrastructure. We also continue to work closely with and utilize the resources of our federal, state and local partners.”