Skip to main content

Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Announcement of the Transnational Organized Crime Strategy


Washington, DC
United States

Thank you, John [Brennan]. It is a privilege to join with you – and with so many other key leaders and critical partners, as we unveil a cutting-edge, comprehensive strategy that will take our nation’s fight against transnational organized crime to the next level.

Of course, the problem of transnational organized crime networks isn’t new. But after a wide-ranging, year-long review – the first study of its kind in more than 15 years – our understanding of what exactly we’re up against has never been more complete or more clear. And our efforts to prevent and combat transnational organized crime have never been more urgent.

In recent years, the Justice Department has strengthened our fight against these criminal organizations – and expanded on our successful counter-narcotics work. By establishing the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center, or IOC-2, we’re now coordinating the efforts of nine federal law enforcement agencies in combating transnational organized crime networks. We’ve also tapped the leaders of these agencies to serve on the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Council. And, to bring additional resources to bear, we recently merged the organized crime and gang sections within the Department’s Criminal Division.

Each of these steps will help to advance the new strategy we’re announcing today. They also reflect the fact that addressing transnational organized crime is no longer just a law enforcement issue. It is a problem that demands the attention – and assistance – of a broad spectrum of partners.

With this new strategy, leaders across government and law enforcement are signaling our commitment to combat transnational organized crime by sharing information and expertise as never before, by paving the way for broad international cooperation, and by developing the legislative solutions we need to address 21st-century threats. One of the centerpieces of this strategy is a series of legislative proposals designed to enhance the tools that the Justice Department– and our law enforcement partners – can bring to bear in the fight against transnational organized crime. These proposals would help to ensure that our statutory landscape is up to date, and that prosecutors and investigators have the capacity to keep pace with the unprecedented threats posed by criminal enterprises that target the United States – including those that operate beyond our borders.

These essential legislative updates would improve our ability to break the financial backbone of criminal organizations by extending the reach of anti-money laundering provisions. They also would enhance our ability to identify and respond to the most common, and often evolving, tactics – and methods of communication – that criminal organizations use to conceal their illicit operations and profits – which, too often, are used to bankroll drug trafficking and even terrorist activity.

By modernizing current racketeering laws and expanding their reach to cover new forms of crimes, we will enhance our ability to advance cases against transnational organized crime groups that engage in diverse criminal activities, including illegal weapons trafficking, health-care and securities fraud, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. And because we know that many of these organizations have long been involved in counterfeiting, the White House Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator has developed a series of proposals that seek to address the most egregious intellectual property crimes committed by criminal enterprises – including illegal activities that threaten our nation’s infrastructure, and the health and safety of our fellow citizens.

I have every confidence that the implementation of this new strategy – and the advancement of our legislative proposals – will strengthen cooperation among relevant authorities, advance our fight against organized crime networks – no matter where they operate – and allow us to build on the record of progress that has been achieved in recent years.

Once again, I’d like to thank my colleagues across the Administration for their commitment to the goals and responsibilities that we share. I look forward to working with them – and with leaders in Congress – to ensure that prosecutors and investigators have access to the tools that they need to protect the American people.

I am grateful to count each of you as partners. I am proud to stand with you. And I look forward to what we will accomplish together in the critical days ahead.

And, now, I’m pleased to turn things over to a dedicated leader in this work, my good friend, Secretary [Janet] Napolitano.

Updated August 18, 2015