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FBI to Station Agents in Budapest

  • Stefan Bos

The director of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation says the agency is permanently stationing agents in Hungary in an effort to combat organized crime and terrorism in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Robert Mueller traveled to Budapest to meet Hungarian politicians and to participate in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the International Law Enforcement Academy.

Director Mueller says FBI agents and Hungarian national police have been participating in a joint task force to combat organized crime and terrorism.

Mr. Mueller says the task force has been "so successful" since it began five years ago, that the FBI is now permanently stationing agents in Hungary.

He explains the agents closely cooperate with a Hungarian police organization, which follows the FBI model, to combat organized crime activities.

"Particularly activities such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking, extortion and most particularly trafficking in persons which continues to be a substantial problem throughout Europe and throughout the Western hemisphere," he said.

Mr. Mueller made the comment during the 10th anniversary meeting of the Budapest based International Law Enforcement Academy on Thursday and Friday. The meeting was attended by interior ministers and law enforcement officials from 26 countries.

The academy was set up by the United States and Hungarian governments to better train and equip police officers and other law enforcement officials, including judges and prosecutors, mostly located in former Communist nations.

U.S. officials fear Russian and other crime groups as well as terrorist organizations are able to more easily smuggle weapons of mass destruction and conduct human and drug trafficking since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

FBI Director Mueller says the academy in Budapest, known as ILEA, has already trained thousands of police from dozens of nations to tackle this growing threat.

"We have trained 2,300 graduates of the academy, 2,300 graduates from 26 countries," he said. "We have produced a generation of law enforcement officers that are better equipped to address the threats of the 21st century. Today whether it be Hungary, the United States or other countries in Europe or elsewhere face a threat of terrorists and criminals crossing easily our borders. To address those threats we must work hand in hand. ILEA, this academy, is a centerpiece of that effort."

On Friday, the graduation ceremony was held at ILEA behind closed doors apparently for security reasons.

Carl Truscott, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, urged the graduates from former Communist countries to begin their work with what he called "a basic idea: the concept of right and wrong."

With corruption remaining a problem within underpaid police forces of former Soviet satellite states, U.S. officials hope the State Department-funded academy in Budapest will help to improve ethics and effectiveness of law enforcement agencies throughout the region.

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