National security and cell phone repair E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Federal law enforcement is confusing. People entering the country illegally are in violation of our immigration laws. So one would imagine that ICE really has the same mission as the Border Patrol. Is that the case? And if tobacco, firearms and alcohol are legal, what is the ATF supposed to do? It’s easy to see where people could lose the plot. According to a South Florida TV news station, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have been raiding local smartphone repair shops and seizing counterfeit Apple parts.

As many as 25 shops have been raided and “between $250,000 and $300,000 in counterfeit Apple parts” have been confiscated.
In the case of at least one of the raids, the owner of a repair shop claimed that the ICE agents were accompanied by Apple representatives.

“It’s a wide investigation that is multi-state. We are looking at whole industry spectrum of repair shops that are using substandard products,” said Gerard O’Neill, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Miami Field Office for Homeland Security.

Part of the problem in terms of keeping track of who’s supposed to do what and who reports to whom is what some refer to the post 9/11 shuffle.

DHS constitutes the most diverse merger of federal functions and responsibilities, incorporating 22 government agencies into a single, massive and disorganized organization.

So why are lots of ICE agents, and possibly Apple executives, spending so much time and money on something that clearly has no immigration of customs angle?

O’Neill says it’s a public safety issue and that is why Homeland Security is involved.

Confused yet? There’s more.

O’Neil says consumers have be hurt by overheating phones that were repaired using counterfeit parts.

Did someone sneak the parts through Customs? Is that why ICE is on the case?

“There are trademark and licensing violations as well,” O’Neil added.

Trademark violations and consumer protection does not sound very much like Immigration and Customs Enforcement but it’s a brave new world.

According to Abel Abella, the proprietor of one of the raided repair shops, “20 ICE agents and two people from Apple came to his store.”

There are many that say that the post 9/11 shuffle was not about “securing the homeland” but rather about securing no-bid, cost plus contracts.

ICE and Apple working together to ensure that Apple customers pay through the nose at Apple-certified repair shops seems to back that assertion up.

Why are counterfeit Apple parts a job for Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Why are Apple employees accompanying law enforcement on raids? And who could possibly believe that “public safety” concerns related to overheating phone parts justify a costly, time-consuming federal law enforcement operation on behalf of one corporation?

Does Samsung get the same kind of support from ICE as Apple?

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