Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division convened a meeting with five U.S. Attorneys and the department’s key leaders, prosecutors, and contributors to Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA) in Washington, D.C., yesterday to discuss JTFA’s work dismantling human smuggling and trafficking networks operating along the Southwest Border.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Argentieri was joined by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani for the Southern District of Texas, U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas, U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez for the District of New Mexico, U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino for the District of Arizona, and U.S. Attorney Tara K. McGrath for the Southern District of California, who are key partners in JTFA.
“Human smuggling and trafficking are insidious crimes,” said Attorney General Garland. “Human smugglers and traffickers prey on vulnerable migrants’ dreams of better lives. They endanger and exploit people for profit. And human smuggling and trafficking networks threaten the safety of our communities and our national security. So far, Joint Task Force Alpha’s work has resulted in over 260 domestic and international arrests; more than 170 convictions; significant jail sentences; and substantial seizures and forfeitures of assets and contraband – including hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, property, vehicles, firearms, ammunition, and drugs.”
During the meeting, Acting Assistant Attorney General Argentieri highlighted JTFA’s work to hold accountable those who prey on migrants’ desperation, put migrants in danger, and undermine the rule of law through human smuggling. She expressed appreciation for the continued commitment from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and law enforcement partners to JTFA’s critical mission. Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Southern District of Texas, Western District of Texas, District of New Mexico, District of Arizona, and Southern District of California are detailed to JTFA to investigate and prosecute human smugglers operating in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section leads JTFA in partnership with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and with dedicated support from the Office of International Affairs; Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training; Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section; Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section; Office of Enforcement Operations; and Violent Crime and Racketeering Section. JTFA also relies on substantial law enforcement investment from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and other partners. JTFA coordinates closely with foreign law enforcement partners on cross-border investigations, arrests of foreign targets, and extraditions.
At the meeting, JTFA leaders discussed ways to use limited resources to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts to combat the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking networks operating in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras and strengthen our relationships with our foreign partners in those countries. Acting Assistant Attorney General Argentieri reaffirmed the Criminal Division’s commitment to leading and supporting JTFA’s critical work to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks who exploit migrants and threaten public safety.
From left to right: U.S. Attorney Restaino, U.S. Attorney Uballez, Acting Assistant Attorney General Argentieri, Attorney General Garland, U.S. Attorney McGrath, U.S. Attorney Hamdani, and U.S. Attorney Esparza.