Thank you, and good morning.
I am proud to be here today at the opening of this new facility and to highlight the importance of the job being done by the dedicated men and women who work here.
I just received a briefing from the leadership of these centers, and I was impressed not only by the scope of your work and its importance, but by the commitment and sincerity of those doing it.
The threat of violent crime in general, and gangs specifically, is near the top of any list of concerns of parents and police chiefs alike. Gangs are a direct threat to the peace and tranquility that we must have to lead our lives freely. They target for membership the young people we must look to as our future.
Whether they are national, transnational or regional, these gangs often share common characteristics—and the intelligence we gather on them can prove invaluable to our efforts to stop them.
Of course, like many features of crime in America, gangs are not solely the responsibility of the federal government. They are often, at root, a local issue, best addressed by local authorities with local knowledge and expertise. But all of us know that there is much that we at the federal level can do to help our local colleagues, especially with national and international gangs. We have resources and our own expertise and knowledge that can be extremely useful.
I know that you, the people in this room, have helped directly in some of the most significant gang cases we‘ve seen in the last few months, including the MS-13 cases in Maryland and Nashville. The intelligence you gather about gangs provides vital information to establish the pattern of racketeering activity we need to bring these as RICO cases. And you are showing, every day, how we can help our local counterparts and fight gang violence. At the end of the day, your contributions matter; and there can be no higher praise.
The work being done here -- collection of intelligence and the integration of resources -- will have an impact not just on individual investigations and prosecutions, but on also our fundamental understanding and approach to the gang problem for a generation.
For instance, in the course of assisting with an FBI case against a major prison gang, NGIC investigators uncovered an individual outside the prison who was helping to move information and money for the gang, in both the United States and Mexico.
By analyzing telephone records, FBI and BOP were able to identify this individual, who was in contact with more than 40 members of the gang in state and federal prisons, and who was operating at the behest of the incarcerated gang leadership. The individual was subsequently indicted for participation in the ongoing criminal activity of a large-scale prison gang.
This is a big day for interagency cooperation. The NGIC, with its partners in Gang Squad and the National Gang Targeting, Enforcement and Coordination Center, can offer a model for true, multi-agency, “badgeless” collaboration among federal law enforcement components.
We have learned that in much of what we at the Department of Justice do, we must work as a team if we are to succeed. Whether we are trying to stop gangs, or other criminals, or terrorists, competition amongst ourselves can hurt rather than help the overall effort. These centers, in continuing and expanding the Department‘s anti-gang efforts here and abroad, offer valuable help in promoting inter-agency cooperation.
I can tell you that I consider it my responsibility as Attorney General to create an atmosphere and set expectations that the entire Department will function together, cooperate, and bring out the best in each other and in each agency. The stakes are too high to tolerate anything less. We can succeed here, as we have in many of our efforts against organized crime, but only if we work together.
Your work is vital to that effort. Congratulations on this important day. I am grateful for your service.