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Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Attorney General Sessions Announces New Measures To Fight Transnational Organized Crime
The U.S. Justice Department announced a series
of measures to dismantle transnational criminal organizations.
“The day I was sworn in as
Attorney General, President Trump sent me an executive order to dismantle
transnational criminal organizations—the gangs and cartels who flood our
streets with drugs and violence,” Attorney General Sessions said. “We
embrace that order and we carry it out every single day. Today, to
increase our effectiveness, I am putting in place new leadership to drive our
transnational organized crime efforts and forming a Transnational Organized
Crime Task Force of experienced prosecutors that will coordinate and optimize
the Department’s efforts to take each of these groups off of our streets for
The Attorney General has
appointed Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hovakimian to serve as the
Department’s first Director of Counter Transnational Organized Crime.
Hovakimian has served in Department leadership since early 2017 and also as an
AUSA in the Southern District of California, where he is co-lead counsel in a
series of transnational public corruption and fraud cases. In addition to
his duties as federal prosecutor, earlier this year the President nominated and
the U.S. Senate confirmed Hovakimian to serve as a Commissioner of the Foreign
Claims Settlement Commission of the United States.
Attorney General Sessions has
appointed Adam Cohen as the new Director of Organized Crime and Drug
Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). Cohen is currently the Chief of the
Criminal Division Special Operations Unit’s Office of Enforcement Operations
and has served in the Criminal Division for 10 years. He has also served
as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for five years and as a state
prosecutor in Florida for seven years. He also led the National Gang
Targeting Enforcement and Coordination Center for nearly three years and has
served as a Deputy Chief of the Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Section. He
is a past recipient of the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Reduction and
Deterrence of Violent and Organized Crime, as well as the DEA Administrator’s
Award for his work to counter narcotics trafficking.
On February 9, 2017, President
Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order 13773, which directed the federal
government to “ensure that Federal law enforcement agencies give a high
priority and devote sufficient resources to efforts to identify, interdict,
disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations[.]”
Following this Executive Order,
Attorney General Sessions directed the FBI, DEA, OCDETF, and the Department’s
Criminal Division to identify top transnational criminal groups that threaten
the safety and prosperity of the United States and its allies. As a
result of that review, the Attorney General is designating the following
criminal groups as top transnational organized crime threats:
de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG)
del Golfo, and
The Attorney General’s TOC Task
Force will be led by the Deputy Attorney General and will be composed of
experienced prosecutors. It will be organized into one subcommittee for
each of the target groups.
The subcommittee on MS-13 will be
led by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for
the Eastern District of New York. AUSA Durham has played a significant
role in the FBI’s Long Island Task Force, which has arrested hundreds of MS-13
The subcommittee on Cartel
Jalisco Nueva Generacion will be led by Trial Attorney Brett Reynolds of the
Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Department’s Criminal Division.
Reynolds has led or co-led several investigations into the Cartel that
have led to indictments of some of its highest ranking members.
The subcommittee on the Sinaloa
Cartel will be led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Sutton of the United
States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California. AUSA
Sutton prosecuted several Sinaloa kingpins and led multiple international
investigations targeting Sinaloa Cartel leaders, resulting in seizures of
millions of dollars in drug proceeds and thousands of kilograms of illicit
The subcommittee on Clan del
Golfo will be led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Emery of the United States
Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. AUSA Emery has
secured convictions against the top leadership of Clan del Golfo, including
kingpin Henry de Jesus Lopez Londoño, who commanded over 1,000 armed men for
The subcommittee on Lebanese
Hezbollah will be led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilan Graff of the United
States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. AUSA
Graff is overseeing the prosecution of two alleged members of Hezbollah’s
External Security Organization, the first such operatives to be charged with
terrorism offenses in the United States.
Attorney General Sessions has
ordered each of these subcommittees to provide specific recommendations within
90 days on how to disrupt and dismantle TOC, whether through prosecution,
diplomacy, or other lawful means.
This new Task Force builds upon
work that Attorney General Sessions has already done to dismantle these
groups. On January 11, 2018, Attorney General Sessions established the
Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team (HFNT), a group of experienced
international narcotics trafficking, terrorism, organized crime, and money laundering
prosecutors. HFNT prosecutors and investigators are tasked with
investigating individuals and networks providing support to Hezbollah, and
pursuing prosecutions in any appropriate cases. The new
subcommittee—which will be staffed and led by HFNT members—will aid the ongoing
work of the HFNT.
On October 23, 2017, Attorney
General Sessions formally designated MS-13 as a priority target for OCDETF.
Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime. He has written extensively about organized crime, street crime, sex crime, cyber crime, drug crime, white collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism. Paul Davis' "Crime Beat" column covers crime in both fact and fiction. His online column offers his Q&As with cops, crooks and crime writers. He is also a regular contributor to the Washington Times and Counterterrorism magazine. His work has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and other newspapers, magazines and online publications. Paul Davis has been a student of crime since he was a 12-year-old aspiring writer growing up in South Philadelphia. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17 in 1970 and served on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War. He also served two years on the Navy harbor tugboat USS Saugus at the U.S. nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. After serving in the Navy, he went on to do security work as a Defense Department civilian employee and he later became a freelance writer. You can read Paul Davis' Crime Beat columns, crime fiction and magazine and newspaper pieces on this website. You can also read his full bio by clicking on the above photo.