Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
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Slime and Punishment Environmental crimes investigation. by LT ERIC RIVERA Investigations Division 8 6 &RDVW *XDUG 2IÀFH RI ,QYHVWLJDWLRQV DQG $QDO\VLV One of the unique aspects of the U.S. Coast Guard is that it functions as a military force as well as a law enforcement agency. With that in mind, the USCG has IRXQG LWVHOI LQ WKH IRUHIURQW RI WKH ÀJKW DJDLQVW PDUL- time pollution. The Coast Guard relies heavily on the assistance of its port state control program to identify environmental GHÀFLHQFLHV DQG FRRUGLQDWH DFWLRQV DJDLQVW WKRVH ZKR commit maritime pollution acts. Port state control examiners perform a number of duties including ves- sel exams, which begin prior to a vessel's entry into port. These exams cover three aspects of the ship's operations: safety, security, and pollution prevention. The Partnership for Clean Water The USCG is the primary federal agency responsi- ble for investigating marine environmental crimes; however, Congress has not granted the Coast Guard power to prosecute these cases. Therefore, the Coast Guard elicits help from other federal agencies such as the Department of Justice (DOJ) to pursue such cases aggressively, and hold all guilty parties responsible for their crimes. This procedure starts when Coast Guard officials determine that a violation of an environmental reg- ulation may be criminal. The Coast Guard issues a UHFRPPHQGDWLRQ WR WKH '2- WR ÀOH FKDUJHV DJDLQVW the suspect. After investigating the case further, U.S. attorneys decide whether to proceed with the case. To determine if an action is criminal, prosecutors examine various elements, including: ६ the extent of the damages, ६ whether intent is shown, ६ if the violator is cooperative, ६ whether there have been violations like this in the past. ,I '2- RIÀFLDOV GHWHUPLQH WKHUH LV HQRXJK HYLGHQFH RI D FULPH DQG GHFLGH WR ÀOH FKDUJHV WKH GHIHQGDQW KDV the same constitutional rights and protections that are afforded to private citizens in any criminal case. Although criminal proceedings may deter future mis- conduct by the alleged perpetrators, they also likely deter those who may be tempted to perform similar offenses. The Burden of Proof Environmental crimes happen all over the U.S. and its territories and may involve international, federal, or state law violations, which means DOJ representatives can bring charges at each of these levels. While inter- national cases typically focus on violations of various WUHDWLHV WKRVH WKDW DUH ÀOHG DW WKH ORFDO OHYHO DUH XVX- ally based on violations of environmental regulations. These environmental offenses usually involve intro- ducing hazardous material or other pollutants into the water. To bring criminal charges, however, the government must be able to show that the discharge was intentional.1 12 Proceedings Fall 2012 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Investigate