MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In a secretly located bunker-like building in Miami-Dade, detectives and analysts from Key West to the Palm Beaches work to connect the dots on potential terror.
The Southeast Florida Fusion Center, or Homeland Security Bureau, fuses local, state and federal intelligence on potential threats. They have been hugely busy since Friday’s terror in Paris.
CBS4 News was granted exclusive access to the center Monday.
“The last few days we’ve had a heightened vigilance,” said Lt. Gina Dominguez of the Homeland Security Bureau. “Our detectives, as you’ve noticed, many of them are not here because they’re at meetings with our federal partners.”
The Homeland Security Bureau has a monitor titled “Situational Awareness Alerts.” It listed quite a few on Monday, which CBS4 was not permitted to reveal.
Although the bureau said it is aware of no current credible threat in South Florida, it follows countless leads and tips, and monitors a variety of people and groups.
“A lot of things end up coming this way prior to going elsewhere,” said the bureau’s chief, Juan Santana. “There’s a lot of connection with South Florida to the various groups out there that are unfortunately trying to hurt us.”
Most of the 9/11 hijackers lived and trained in South Florida.
The terror in Paris has complicated the work of anti-terror specialists, because at least five of the terrorists were Frenchmen, not Arab radicals.
While all the high-tech cameras, computers and technical gear are helpful to law enforcement, they said now more than ever they need the public to be aware, on guard to anything suspicious.
“Reporting that information, whether you think it’s small or you don’t think it’s a big deal, is a major part of our efforts now,” said Lt. Dominguez. “If you see something, say something.”
At Miami International Airport Monday, it was pretty much business as usual. Passengers reported only minor delays due to security issues.
“Just a little bit,” said passenger Mark McDonald arriving from Boston. “When we landed here, there was a dog sniffing our bags as we got off the plane.”
That bomb-sniffing dog may have greeted the American flight from Boston, based on a tip received at the Homeland Security Bureau at its secret location in Miami-Dade.
Citizens wanting to report suspicious activity can call (305) 470-3900 or a 24-hour citizen tip line at 1-866-58-ALERT.