The biggest investigation in cryptocurrency history out of the Homeland Security Investigations Detroit office was made recently, and a Trenton police officer was right at the center of it all.
Thanks in part to the efforts of Trenton Detective Frank Cavazos, his three-year case with HSI involving 18 people who stole the identities of more than 500 victims was brought to light and arrests made.
The hacking scheme raked in estimated $75 million in cryptocurrency.
Cavazos, who was assigned to the financial investigations arm of Homeland Security Investigations with about 10 other officers, worked the case that reached numerous states and countries.
An accomplishment like that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Cavazos was presented with the HSI Director’s Award at a recent meeting of the Trenton City Council.
This record-setting bust originated with a call from a concerned parent about her juvenile son that Cavazos and another task force officer handled.
“She was a concerned parent who called about her own child,” the detective said. “She knew he was up to no good. Myself and another task force officer talked to him and gave him a stern warning.”
The Canton mother called police back and told officers her son was deeply involved in something nefarious and acting on additional information officers ended up seizing his computer.
The probe was the beginning of a wider investigation that reached into and uncovered a deep criminal network.
Cavazos said the beauty of joint cooperation among local, state and federal agencies is the ability to take something initially on a smaller scale and being able to work the investigation to the full extent, no matter how widespread it goes.
According to the Trenton officer, what the investigation was able to do through local, state and federal cooperation was expose the network of corrupt employees working for cellphone companies who were getting SIM card information, researching people and hacking into cryptocurrency wallets or online exchange accounts.
In this case, the investigation went international.
What began as an investigation in Canton turned into arrests made involving residents in Dublin, Ireland, Pasco County, Florida, Rochester, New York, Tucson, Arizona, Murrietta, California, Warrensburg, Missouri, West Haven, Connecticut and Dubuque, Iowa.
They are all members of a group called “The Community,” according to court documents.
“It was very gratifying to be involved in an investigation of this magnitude,” Cavazos said.
He isn’t aware of any officer in the area receiving such an award and said it’s rare such recognition is given to a branch the size of Detroit’s operation.
Most offices lauded for accomplishments on this scale are seen in much larger cities.
The detective reiterated the importance of seeing something suspicious and saying something to law enforcement about it.
He applauded the mother of the juvenile involved in the scheme for alerting law enforcement when she knew her son was mixed up in something that was unlawful.