- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2008

A new strategy in the Justice Department’s fight against international organized crime calls for an “unprecedented cooperative effort” by federal law-enforcement agencies to identify, disrupt and dismantle the gangs, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said yesterday.

“As international organized criminals have adapted their tactics over time and embraced emerging technology, we too must adapt,” Mr. Mukasey said at a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “With this strategy, we’re building a new, 21st century program that we believe will be nimble enough to fight the threat of international organized crime for years to come.”

In what Mr. Mukasey described as a “comprehensive and detailed plan,” the new strategy will enable the Justice Department and nine federal law-enforcement agencies to gather their resources to more effectively combat the threat of international organized crime.

Ultimately, he said, the strategy aims to create consensus among U.S. law-enforcement authorities in identifying the most-significant priority targets, followed by unified action to bring those involved to justice. He said it aims to ensure that criminal laws and operating procedures “reflect the modern realities and needs of international crime fighting.”

Prior to the new program, the department and its law-enforcement partners conducted a comprehensive assessment of international organized crime, which laid out the threat it posed to U.S. national security, the stability of the U.S. economy, and the integrity of government institutions, infrastructure and systems in the U.S.

The assessment was based on the best available information known to the U.S. government through the combined efforts of the law enforcement, intelligence and interagency communities.

Mr. Mukasey said the new strategy establishes an investigative and prosecution framework “as committed and connected as the international organized crime structure it must combat,” with the federal agencies sharing international organized crime information and intelligence, identifying and prioritizing the most significant threats and putting that expertise and resources to ending the threats.

“International organized criminals have broadened the scope and depth of their illegal activities, reaching into a variety of sectors to sustain their inherent quest for money and power. These modern-day criminals threaten our physical, economic and national security, indeed, in many circumstances without even setting foot inside U.S. borders,” said Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher, who heads the department’s criminal division.

“With this strategy, international organized criminals will be targeted and prosecuted in the same determined and concerted manner in which they pursue their illegal activities,” said Mrs. Fisher, who attended the forum.

The strategy’s targets include international organized criminals who have penetrated the energy market and other strategic sectors of the U.S. and world economy; those who provide logistical and other support to terrorists, foreign intelligence services and foreign governments; others who traffic in people and contraband; and those who exploit the international financial system to move illegal profits and funds.

Also, international organized criminals use cyberspace to target U.S. victims and infrastructure; those who manipulate securities exchanges with sophisticated fraud schemes; others who have corrupted public officials worldwide; and those who use violence and the threat of violence as a basis of power.

“By increasing international cooperation and information sharing, together we can disrupt and dismantle these global, sophisticated organizations that have exploited geopolitical, economic, social, and technological changes over the last two decades to become increasingly active worldwide,” said FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole, who also attended the forum.

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