< Back


Did our question catch your eye? We’d love to chat with you at this year’s GEOINT conference in Aurora, Colorado. Visit us at Booth 1109.

April 24- 27, 2022

How did our actionable intelligence link the Maduro regime to Iran’s military?

External state actors’ influence in the Western Hemisphere is a growing threat, and U.S.-sanctioned Venezuela has strengthened cooperation with Iran in the last year.

How did we prove these ties run deeper than they appear in unclassified reporting?

In this rare instance, we delivered unclassified insights on this highly consequential link within our region. Our reporting was one of the first delivered to the intelligence community at this level of depth and completely in the open.

The Mission: 3GIMBALS was tasked with providing an actionable, trustworthy report using a trove of data sources to track a complex web of state-level connections between Venezuela and Iran.

How we did it: It started with a supermarket. A new grocer built in Caracas had ties to the Iranian military and led to a number of other investigations into the Venezuela-Iran connection.

While at surface-level there was no clear story, a deeper application of tradecraft and tools provided all the evidence required to see the deepening ties between the two states.

An Iran-flagged cargo ship delivered food to Venezuela and returned carrying alumina, discharged last year at Venezuela’s La Guaira port and returned to Iran carrying back an undisclosed cargo. Using multiple data sources and methodologies, we revealed clear military underpinnings to these transactions.

Iran provided food, medicine and gasoline to Venezuela and equipment to repair its depleted refineries, while Venezuela has paid Iranian companies with jet fuel, heavy crude and other commodities it produces. But the story went even deeper.

From pineapples and mangos to weapons-grade minerals, the 3GIMBALS team followed mobile devices, transportation methods, and other data sources in multiple languages to provide faster, more direct insights. We identified geospatial centers of gravity and unrivaled opportunities for subsequent classified collection and exploitation.

Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) furthered connections with the Maduro regime in Venezuela beyond gasoline deliveries in 2020. Iran provided foodstuffs and possibly weapons or weapons components in exchange for Venezuelan mineral resources, some of which could be used for Iranian weapons programs.

The result: In this rare instance, we delivered unclassified insights on this highly consequential link within our region. Our multifaceted approach to analysis and reporting was one of the first delivered to the intelligence community at this level of depth and detail and completely in the open. We helped the intelligence community further their knowledge and gather more. By going beyond imagery to show a multi-faceted picture, our insights provide the detail needed to ensure adversarial awareness and monitoring.

How do you find an at-large cartel leader in less than a week?

When a law enforcement agency could no longer further their hunt with their current data set, 3GIMBALS was activated to create actionable information to find the target.

The mission: Locate a high value target associated with a transnational criminal organization in northern Mexico. The target is aware of investigations and is constantly avoiding arrest.

The start points are basic biographic information and social media activity.

Here’s how it worked:

Step 1: We received the full, unique data from Law Enforcement that was no longer yielding results.

Step 2: We began spinning the data into new start points.

Step 3: We applied new methodologies to integrate new data points, beyond social media activity such as commercial telemetry data, pattern-of-life re-recreation, imagery, business data, and breach data.

Step 4: 3GIMBALS developed and delivered analysis in real-time.

Step 5: Law enforcement and partner nations used the analysis to confirm the presence of the target at the location highlighted by COGINT.

To further the broader mission, 3GIMBALS is conducting modeling to understand regional stability in Mexico and the Bahamas, and global drug trafficking trends, like the use of drones to move drugs into the U.S.

How did we enable diplomats to confront China on its illegal activities in Latin America?

Transnational threats are often cloaked in innocuous guises. In 2020, a rising threat from China took the shape of illegal fishing across the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility (AOR) and turned into more nefarious findings.

The mission: 3GIMBALS was called upon to quickly integrate powerful technologies to identify, track, and analyze Chinese vessel activity in the region, illuminating the connection between Chinese state-owned enterprises, and consequently highlighted disturbing human rights issues and criminal activity throughout the USSOUTHCOM AOR.

How we did it: We were tasked to identify scope, locations, and patterns of activity for a Chinese distant water fishing company in the USSOUTHCOM AOR to include connections with Winson Fuel, a bunkering fuel company which has evaded UN sanctions against North Korea.

We curated AIS, high- and medium-resolution imagery, social and digital media, corporate websites, and business registry data to create nearly 20 reports exploring Chinese illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The reports documented the fleets’ pattern of life to predict future movements, highlighting illegal activity onboard their vessels, diving deep into vessel ownership to illuminate ties to sanctioned companies, and the businesses providing logistical support.

What now? Illumination of refueling events by Winson Oil for DOF vessels, IUU fishing, and dark activity by DOF vessels, associated corrupt business deals, connections with foreign crewing companies that facilitate human trafficking are providing diplomats and leaders new opportunities to curtail these nefarious practices.

Back to Blog