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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York


New York, NY
United States

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning.

In just a few minutes, U.S. Attorney Williams and I will meet with some of our New York law enforcement partners. I am grateful to each of them for being here. And I look forward to our discussion.

While these kinds of meetings between the Justice Department and our law enforcement partners are always important, the current global threat environment makes this one particularly urgent.

Over the past several days, over 40 hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th have been released. Among them is Avigail Idan, a 4-year-old American.

We welcome Avigail’s return and hope to see the return of more hostages in the days to come.

The Justice Department’s victim services programs – including our Office for Victims of Crime and the FBI’s Victim Services Division – stand ready to provide assistance to released American hostages and their families.

We also remain committed to working with our partners across the U.S. government to secure the return of all missing Americans, including those still being held hostage.

As always, but especially right now, the Justice Department is remaining vigilant in the face of the potential threats of hate-fueled violence and terrorism.

We are closely monitoring the impact that the conflict in the Middle East may have in inspiring foreign terrorist organizations, homegrown violent extremists, and domestic violent extremists both here in the United States and abroad.

All of us have also seen a sharp increase in the volume and frequency of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities across our country since October 7th. 

There is understandable fear in communities across the country. Even as we speak, the ATF and FBI are investigating the tragic shooting of three men of Palestinian descent in Vermont. That investigation, including whether this is a hate crime, is ongoing. Investigative updates by law enforcement officials in Vermont will be coming soon. The Justice Department is poised to provide any assistance that our state and local law enforcement partners need as we work together to protect our communities.

Last month, I directed the FBI and each of our U.S. Attorneys to meet with law enforcement and community leaders to discuss what they are seeing on the ground and how we can best support them with regard to these threats.

Senior leadership at the Justice Department and I have done the same. In my conversations with law enforcement, community, and religious leaders, I have reiterated that the Justice Department has no higher priority than protecting the safety and civil rights of everyone in our country.

Protecting all people and all communities from hate-fueled violence was the Justice Department’s founding purpose in 1870, and it remains our urgent responsibility today.

No person and no community in this country should have to live in fear of hate-fueled violence. Fulfilling that promise motivates us every single day.

While we are confronting this elevated global threat environment, we also know that we cannot lose sight of other pressing challenges.

That includes working closely with our state and local law enforcement partners to combat violent crime. And it includes working together to disrupt the flow of fentanyl, the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced.

Earlier this fall, this office charged four people after a one-year-old boy tragically died from being poisoned by fentanyl at his daycare. The Southern District of New York’s investigation found that there were kilograms of fentanyl hidden in the Bronx facility, including underneath the floorboards where the children napped and played.

Although one of the defendants in that case fled to Mexico, we were able to secure his return to the United States to ensure that he will face justice here in New York.

And just last month, because of this Office’s efforts, another drug dealer who sold fentanyl-laced cocaine that killed three people was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.

This office is also an important part of the Justice Department’s broader strategy to disrupt and dismantle every link in the global cartel-driven fentanyl trafficking networks.

In April, we announced charges in this District against 23 members, leaders, and associates of the Sinaloa Cartel, which runs the largest, most violent, and most prolific fentanyl trafficking operation in the world.

Since that indictment, one of the defendants, Ovidio Guzman Lopez, a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel and a son of El Chapo, was extradited from Mexico to the United States.

Just last week, another defendant, Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas, also known as “El Nini,” one of the Sinaloa Cartel’s lead sicarios, or assassins, who led security operations for the cartel, was captured by the Mexican government. We are seeking his extradition to the United States.

And in June, this office charged a China-based chemical company and arrested two of its employees for producing and distributing to the United States and Mexico the building blocks needed to manufacture deadly fentanyl.

These are just a few examples of the work we are doing in this office and across the country to combat fentanyl trafficking and to hold accountable those responsible for flooding our communities with this poison.

And these examples represent just a fraction of what this office is doing to help fulfill the Justice Department’s overall mission: to uphold the rule of law, to keep our country safe, and to protect civil rights.

I am very proud of the incredible men and women of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

And I am proud of the partnerships they have built with the law enforcement leaders who are here with us today.

We are now going to begin our meeting.

Updated November 27, 2023