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Violent and Organized Crime Section

Section Overview

AUSAs in the Violent and Organized Crime Section (VOCS) prosecute some of the most dangerous criminals in the Central District, including cases involving kidnapping, prison murders and assaults, firearms offenses, and armed robberies of banks and other commercial establishments. AUSAs in the Section also investigate organized crime groups, including traditional domestic, Asian, Eurasian, and emerging criminal organizations.

The Violent and Organized Crime Section serves as the liaison with the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program, which seeks to coordinate efforts by federal and state law enforcement, as well as community groups, to combat criminal firearm use, particularly by violent gangs. In conjunction with the PSN program, AUSAs work with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to develop criminal cases against the leaders of organized street gangs responsible for much of the Central District’s gun violence. In these and other cases involving violent organized crime, AUSAs are often involved in long-term investigations that use undercover agents, court-authorized wiretaps, surveillance, and other covert investigation tactics to develop racketeering (RICO), narcotics, and money laundering cases. AUSAs also work with the Violence Reduction Network Program, which combines federal and state law enforcement resources to tackle violent crime in the Compton area.

In conjunction with the national Project Safe Childhood Program (PSC), AUSAs in the Section lead the Office’s efforts to combat crimes against children, particularly the sexual exploitation of minors through the production, advertisement, distribution, and possession of child pornography via the Internet. The Section also coordinates the prosecution of human trafficking offenses, including those who traffic minors and adults for sex, perpetuate indentured servitude, and engage in labor trafficking.

Section Leadership

Joanna Curtis

Joanna Curtis has been a prosecutor for 17 years—five years with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and 12 years with the Central and Southern Districts of California.  Ms. Curtis has conducted and supervised scores of jury trials in federal and state courts.  Throughout her prosecutorial career, she focused on gang and violent crime prosecutions.  Since 2012 when Ms. Curtis joined the Violent and Organized Crime Section, she led prosecution teams in obtaining racketeering indictments against over 80 MS-13 members and associates, including three juvenile defendants.  In July 2019, Ms. Curtis obtained an indictment charging 22 MS-13 members with racketeering, first degree murder, and VICAR murder.  According to the Capital Crimes Section, Joanna’s case included the most capital-eligible defendants of any case in 2019.  Her federal prosecution of other high profile murder cases includes a cruise ship murder and the November 1, 2013 murder of a Transportation Security Administration Officer at LAX—both resulted in sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.  Ms. Curtis earned a Juris Doctor degree from Pepperdine University School of Law.

Recent Cases

November 4, 2022
Press Release
Inland Empire Man Arrested on Complaint Alleging He Engaged in Unlicensed Firearms Dealing in Which He Sold ‘Ghost Guns’

November 2, 2022
Press Release
Vineland Boys Member Who Helped Run the Gang’s Drug Trafficking Operations Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for RICO, Drug Crimes

October 24, 2022
Press Release
Judge Sentences South Bay Accountant to Life in Federal Prison for Producing Child Sexual Abuse Material of Filipino Victims

October 21, 2022
Press Release
Two Men Arrested on Federal Charges Alleging They Shot Guard During Armored Truck Armed Robbery Earlier this Week

October 6, 2022
Press Release
Inland Empire Man Sentenced to 5 Years in Federal Prison for Two-Month ‘Smash-and-Grab’ Robbery Spree Targeting Cellphone Stores

Section Contact Information

The United States Attorney's Office
Central District of California
Criminal Division
Attn: Violent and Organized Crime Section
312 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Updated December 2, 2022