FBI regional office reflects on impact in 2022

January 19, 2023 3:00 am

The seal of the FBI hangs in the Flag Room at the bureau’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

For many of us, the start of a new year is a time for reflection, gratitude and the implementation of strategies to achieve even more in the year to come. For the FBI’s Omaha Field Office, we reflect on our impact in 2022, express appreciation for our vibrant and enduring community partnerships and hone our strategy to continue increasing the breadth and depth of our core mission: protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.

Last year from our Nebraska offices in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island and North Platte, and our Iowa offices in Des Moines, Sioux City, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and Quad Cities, we investigated cases spanning a wide spectrum of criminal, counterterrorism, cyber and counterintelligence threats. We investigated and arrested violent criminals, human traffickers, child predators, international and domestic terrorists, cyber criminals, gang members, corrupt public officials, civil rights violators, financial fraudsters and individuals working on behalf of adversarial countries intent on undermining our national security.

In 2023, FBI agents, analysts and professional staff throughout Iowa and Nebraska will continue to respond to the most significant criminal, cyber and national security threats in our community.

We are proud of the impact we had in 2022. Our investigations resulted in 382 arrests across Nebraska and Iowa.  By no measure did we accomplish this alone.  We stood shoulder to shoulder with our state, local, tribal and federal law enforcement partners to mitigate the most urgent criminal and national security threats of the day.  We are also grateful for the robust partnerships we have with businesses, academia, local governments and community groups in our two states.

In 2022, FBI Omaha’s task forces took 157 weapons off the streets. In 2023 we will continue to focus efforts on generating momentum in the fight against the violent gangs, violent criminals and drug trafficking organizations victimizing our neighborhoods and communities. Last year we provided active shooter awareness training to hundreds of citizens representing churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, community groups and businesses.

In 2023 we will continue focusing efforts to prevent and respond to acts of violence against members of our community because of who they are, how they identify, or where they work or worship.

While it is unthinkable, every year children continue to become victims of crime, whether it’s through kidnappings, sexual abuse or online predators.  In 2022, FBI Omaha’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force put 64 child predators behind bars.  One of those arrested has already been sentenced to 45 years in prison for producing child pornography.  Throughout this new year, our mission to identify, locate, and recover child victims and bring predators to justice will be remain one of our highest priorities.

We connect our lives more and more to the digital world. Our adversaries are exploiting that fact and gaining insight into our lives and protected information.  The cyber threats we are seeing today are more pervasive, target a wider variety of victims and carry the potential for greater damage than ever before. This impacts every one of us and our families living here in Nebraska and Iowa.  Wherever you may live, the cyber risk to our businesses, schools, governments, and hospitals is growing larger every day. The FBI expects the cyber threat to continue to expand and evolve in 2023.

Among our accomplishments in 2022 was the disruption of a planned cyberattack on a David City, Nebraska, hospital.  After a tip from our partners in Ireland, Omaha cyber agents helped the hospital pinpoint the compromised server and take it offline before any patient information was compromised.

In 2023 we will be laser-focused on three cyber threats: the halting of business operations due to ransomware attacks, especially against critical infrastructure; the theft of our data, technology, and innovation by foreign adversaries, notably the People’s Republic of China; and the risk posed by adversarial nation states implanting malware on our industrial control systems.

Our goal in the cyber arena is prevention and disruption — hitting hackers before or during their attacks, getting information to people who need it as quickly as we can and working with our partners to impose risk and consequences on our cyber adversaries. By partnering with businesses, we can shut down malicious activities and improve our collective ability to protect against the cyber threat.

FBI Omaha is poised to have an even greater impact in the year to come.  We look forward to strengthening our current law enforcement and private sector partnerships, as well as building new ones.  But we need your help. We can only prevail with the assistance and trust of the community we serve.

As the criminal, cyber and national security threats we face continue to evolve, some things remain steadfast – the FBI’s ability to innovate and address the threats coming over the horizon, and our commitment to working with our partners to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution.

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Eugene Kowel
Eugene Kowel

Eugene Kowel joined the FBI as a special agent in 2005. He now serves as the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Omaha field office, which covers Iowa and Nebraska.