Counter Terrorism Fusion Center Opens in Las Vegas - 8 News NOW

Edward Lawrence, Reporter

Counter Terrorism Fusion Center Opens in Las Vegas

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Equipment able to identify radiation, chemical, or biological substances can be called on to examine anything suspicious. Equipment able to identify radiation, chemical, or biological substances can be called on to examine anything suspicious.

The first Counter Terrorism Fusion Center is officially open in Las Vegas. But it has actually been gathering information since October.

The information collected is shared between federal, state, and local authorities to prevent terrorism or other crimes. It has already proved successful in identifying men with ties to al Qaida.

It doesn't look like much, but the work there could save lives and the Las Vegas economy. The bullpen of Nevada's Counter Terrorism Fusion Center is hard at work.

"In Vegas, if we are responding to an event, we have already lost," said Metro Lt. Tom Monahan. He runs the Fusion Center, designed to share information preventing a terrorist attack. It has already paid off.

Recently, a tip led detectives in the Fusion Center to a group of men acting suspiciously. Sources say they were stopped in McCarran Airport trying to leave the country. Those sources told Eyewitness News cell phone records linked the men directly to al Qaida.

They were detained, put on notice -- but released because they broke no laws. Authorities say they caught up to the men solely because of information sharing at the Fusion Center.

The rooms are non-descript. The cubicles like any other office -- the information coming in and going out of there prevents not just terrorism, but other crimes.

Det. Joe Martin is on the front lines. "Most of the things that we end up investigating end up being regular crimes," he said. Metro assigned him to the Fusion Center.

"The speed that we get information is key in catching the people we are looking for," said Det. Martin.

Not only does Detective Martin have access to information, but also the latest technology. Equipment able to identify radiation, chemical, or biological substances can be called on to examine anything suspicious.

Det. Rick Breeden said, "We put it in a little vial, put in there. Close it. Arm the laser and it will actually read the substance."

All of it massed together in one building for one reason.

"Do we think that Las Vegas is a target? Of course we do, and everybody in the world thinks that," said Lt. Tom Monahan.

In addition to representatives from the FBI, Henderson police, North Las Vegas police, Metro, and the Clark County Fire Department, Phoenix police and the Los Angeles police departments have detectives assigned to the Nevada Fusion Center to share information.

Email your comments to Reporter Edward Lawrence.

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