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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

May 2, 2022
Press Release
Filipino Seaman Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge for Fatally Stabbing Fellow Crewmember on Los Angeles-Bound Container Ship

April 26, 2022
Press Release
San Fernando Valley Man Indicted on Federal Charges Alleging He Sold Pound Quantities of Meth and Dozens of ‘Ghost Guns’

April 22, 2022
Press Release
Fresno Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Engaging in a Child Exploitation Enterprise and Creating Child Sexual Abuse Material

April 18, 2022
Press Release
Longtime Leader of South Los Angeles Street Gang Found Guilty of RICO Conspiracy, Including Participating in Rival’s Murder

April 14, 2022
Press Release
Ed Buck Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for Providing Methamphetamine to Two Victims Who Suffered Fatal Overdoses

Section Contact Information

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

Updated May 2, 2022

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