Courts & the Law, Environment

Apex security company, TigerSwan, cited by regulatory board for surveilling protesters at Dakota Access Pipeline without license

James Reese, president of TigerSwan, based in Apex: The company is under investigation in North Dakota for operating without a license. Those operations included military-style counterterrorism techniques. (Photo: TigerSwan website)

Sandwiched between BounceU of Apex and Potter’s Hand Bible Church on Apex Peakway, the headquarters of security company TigerSwan offers a palette of services: Among them, the “GuardianAngel,” program that allows you to deploy an emergency assistance beacon, even internationally; “secure housing and life support” for people living in Iraq and Afghanistan; and old-fashioned, on-the-ground armed guards.

Such guards, deployed and armed by TigerSwan to surveil protestors of the Dakota Access Pipeline, are part of a civil complaint filed against the company by the North Dakota Private Investigative and Security Board. Several media outlets reported the story today.  TigerSwan allegedly has operated in North Dakota without a license –. even after that state’s security board denied the company a license to do so. According to the civil complaint, TigerSwan allegedly still mans an operation there on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners, which built the pipeline.

The board denied TigerSwan’s license because its company, president James Reese, allegedly has a criminal record. He has denied the allegation, according to media reports.

The company has used military-style counterterrorism measures against protesters, The Intercept reported, based on internal documents and public records requests. A member of the company’s board of directors is a 20-plus-year veteran of the oil and gas industry.

From US News & World Report:

The Private Investigative and Security Board alleges in court documents filed Tuesday that TigerSwan employees with semi-automatic rifles and handguns protected workers and equipment at construction sites, conducted intelligence on protesters, including placing or trying to place undercover agents within the protest groups, and even monitored vehicle traffic on a state highway.

TigerSwan was founded in 2007 by retired members of the US Delta Force. The company has trademarked several “risk mitigation” programs, including F3EAR (Find, Fix, Finalize, Exploit, Analyze and Recur) and NIFE (Network, Individuals, Facilities and Electronics/Environmental).

NIFE, according to the company website, collects data from sources, imports them to a “sentinel visualizer”, then uses that data to target individuals and spit out comprehensive security reports.

TigerSwan’s tactics in North Dakota raises concerns in North Carolina, where James Reese has been issued a private protective license and a security guard license by the state Private Protective Services b=Board. Both expire in January 2019.

Dominion Energy and Duke Energy are proposing to build a segment of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through the eastern part of the state. The pipeline has yet to receive federal approval.

In addition to Reese, the company employs five executives in its Apex office: Shawn Sweeney, a 21-year Army veteran and former police chief in Halifax, Va.; John Bosnjak, who served in the 101st Airborne and Special Forces; Derek Borror, formerly a senior human terrain analyst with US Central Command; Brian Smith, who has a finance degree from NC State; and Loretta Moye, who worked in employee relations for the state Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The board of directors includes James “Spider” Marks, a military analyst with CNN.com; retired Army Lt. Frank Kearney III and Charles Pittman, who worked for 24 years for oil and gas companies, including Amoco.

If the company is found liable in North Dakota, it could be administratively fined just $1,500, although Reese could serve 30 days in jail. The state is also seeking to recoup attorney fees.

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