James Dinkins’ 28-Year Law Enforcement Career

Robert Kowalski

James Dinkins
Head of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) (Ret.)


Jim Dinkins began his 28-year law enforcement career with the federal government in 1986, as a co-operative education student the U.S. Customs Service in Washington, DC. After graduating in 1988, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Detroit, Detroit, MI, he became a Special Agent with U.S. Customs, at the Special Agent in Charge office in San Francisco, California. At that time in American’s history, Columbian drug cartels were one of the greatest threats to the nation, and Jim developed an investigative expertise in undercover money laundering and drug smuggling investigations. During this time, Jim also became a founding member of the Warrant Entry & Tactical Team, and later the Special Response Team (SRT), a team of highly trained and specially equipped officers responsible for executing high-risk search & arrest warrants.

In 1996, Jim transferred to Detroit, MI, where he was promoted to Supervisory Special Agent and later Assistant Special Agent in Charge. After the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, Jim led the formation of the Department of Treasury’s first certified Undercover Operations targeting terrorist financing.

Following the 2002 establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and the 2003 formation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Jim was promoted to Chief of Cornerstone and Financial Investigation Programs at ICE headquarters in Washington, DC. This unit was responsible for developing global initiatives and programs designed to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in the US financial and trade systems that could be exploited by terrorist and other criminal organizations. In 2006, he was promoted to the Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore field office, and in 2008 became Special Agent in Charge of the Washington, DC.

In January 2010, Jim was selected to become the ICE, Director of Investigations, where he led the formation and served as the first head of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in June 2010, as the Executive Associate Director. HSI became the principle investigative component of DHS and was formed by merging the Office of Intelligence, Office of Investigations, and Office of International Affairs. This newly formed agency devoted to the investigation of a wide array of transnational crime, including: terrorism; national security threats; narcotics smuggling; transnational gang activity; child exploitation; human smuggling and trafficking; illegal exports of controlled technology and weapons; money laundering; financial fraud and scams; worksite and employment crimes; cybercrime; intellectual property theft and trade fraud; identity and benefit fraud; and human rights violations and war crimes. As head of HSI, Jim supervised a 9,000+ employee organization with 200 US offices and 72 overseas locations in 47 countries. Jim served as head of HSI until his retirement from federal law enforcement in April 2014.

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