El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) at the core of border patrol

The El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), a multi-agency regional intelligence center in El Paso, Texas, gathers and disseminates information about drug and weapons trafficking, alien smuggling, and terrorism activities. The agencies at the core are the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and includes representatives from more than 15 other agencies. EPIC is run jointly by the DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

To improve drug and border enforcement operations on the Southwest border of the United States, the Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended establishing a regional intelligence center in 1974. The El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) would be staffed by representatives of the Drug Enforcement Administration, US Customs Service, and US Immigration and Naturalization Service. The agencies in the El Paso Intelligence Center would collect and disseminate information about drug smuggling, illegal immigration, and weapons smuggling to support law enforcement agencies in the area.

Since 1974 the number of agencies represented at EPIC have grown from 3 to 19, and now includes:

•Drug Enforcement Administration
•Department of Homeland Security
•Customs and Border Protection
•Immigration and Customs Enforcement
•US Coast Guard
•Federal Bureau of Investigation
•Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
•US Secret Service
•US Marshals Service
•National Drug Intelligence Center
•Internal Revenue Service
•US Department of the Interior
•National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
•U.S. Department of Defense
•Joint Task Force North
•Joint Interagency Task Force South
•Texas Department of Public Safety
•Texas Air National Guard
•El Paso County Sheriff’s Office

The scope of EPIC’s responsibilities has changed as well. In the beginning, EPIC’s focus was to assist in identifying drug and alien traffickers along the U.S. – Mexico border. Now EPIC’s focus has grown to become international. EPIC serves Federal agencies from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam. EPIC also supports law enforcement efforts that are conducted by foreign counterparts all over the world, and has understandings with Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. To support their increased duties, EPIC has developed into a fully coordinated, tactical intelligence center supported by databases and resources from member agencies. In 2001, after the World Trade Center attacks, counterterrorism was added to EPIC’s list of responsibilities.

EPIC also provides training for federal, state and local law enforcement personnel. Operation Jetway trains personnel in procedures for airport, train, bus, parcel or hotel/motel interdiction, and Operation Pipeline/Convoy trains personnel in procedures for highway interdiction.

The El Paso Intelligence Center is located in the Fort Bliss military reservation in El Paso, Texas. The current facility was dedicated in 1989 to the memory of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena-Salazar, who was killed in the line of duty during an undercover operations in Mexico. Major operations headed by EPIC include Operation Pipeline (1984), a nationwide highway interdiction program, and Operation Snowcap (1987), an initiative to disrupt the growing, processing, and transporting of cocaine.