Transnational Organized Crime: U.S. Policy, Programs, and Related Issues
CRS Report for Congress
Transnational Organized Crime:
U.S. Policy, Programs, and Related Issues
January 8, 2004
Analyst in International Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Transnational Organized Crime: U.S. Policy, Programs,
and Related Issues
Transnational organized crime presents a serious threat to U.S. national security
and global stability. Organized criminal groups have benefitted from the demise of
legal structures following the collapse of the Soviet Union and in many failed states.
They have been able to expand their networks across national borders. Globalism
serves these groups which increasingly rely upon advanced technology and the global
financial system to accumulate wealth from their illicit activities. These groups
engage in a wide array of criminal activities across national borders that include the
illicit drugs trade, trafficking in persons, alien smuggling, and financial crimes.
These transnational crimes directly threaten American communities and businesses.
Experts also warn of the potential opportunistic links between such criminal
groups and terrorist organizations. The recent decrease in state-sponsorship and
support may lead terrorist groups to increasingly rely upon transnational criminals for
finances, weapons, or other forms of assistance. Such alliances between terrorist and
criminal groups could create additional threats to American interests.
This report presents the direct and potential threats which emerge from
transnational organized crime and describes the U.S. government response to combat
global crime. It outlines the overall framework of U.S. policies formulated to combat
transnational organized crime. Both the Clinton and Bush Administration’s response
to transnational crime is framed within the 1998 International Crime Control
Strategy. Federal agencies have formulated additional national strategies related to
specific dimensions of transnational crime. Congress has also directed U.S. policy
and programs, and provided law enforcement agencies with several tools to combat
transnational organized crime
Key federal law enforcement and intelligence programs that focus broadly on
transnational crime are discussed. Some of these programs are designed to monitor,
investigate and prosecute transnational organized criminals. Other programs
facilitate bilateral and multilateral law enforcement cooperation from foreign
government institutions. Moreover, some programs seek to provide law enforcement
training and assistance to foreign governments. Federal agencies leading the U.S.
government’s efforts to combat transnational organized crime include the
Departments of Defense, Justice, Treasury, Homeland Security, and State. Finally,
it examines potential Congressional concerns related to U.S. efforts to combat
transnational crime as organized criminal groups accumulate wealth and leverage
affecting American interests. The report will not be updated.
In troduction ..................................................1
Threats to the United States......................................3
U.S. Response to the Threats.....................................7
The Clinton Administration..................................7
The Bush Administration....................................7
Key Federal Programs......................................8
Potential Congressional Concerns................................13
Transnational Organized Crime: U.S.
Policy, Programs, and Related Issues
Transnational organized crime threatens American communities, businesses and
financial institutions.1 In a larger sense, it is also seen as endangering the security of
the United States and other nations, undermining the rule of law, corrupting
governments, impeding sustainable development, and jeopardizing local and regional
stability by possibly providing arms and supports for terrorists and insurgents. This
report looks at the extent of the threat posed by transnational crime and U.S. efforts
to respond to this threat. It discusses key federal programs of law enforcement and
intelligence agencies designed to monitor, investigate and prosecute transnational
organized crime. It also addresses programs of bilateral and multilateral law
enforcement cooperation with foreign governmental institutions. Finally, the report
suggests some policy concerns for Congress, which has continued to give
considerable attention to U.S. national security dimension of the threat posed by
transnational organized crime. While giving priority to the war on terrorism,
Congress has supported the continuing fight against drugs, trafficking in persons,
intellectual property violations, money laundering, and other crimes that threaten the
day to day activities of American citizens and businesses.
Organized criminal groups exploit the global economy with sophisticated means
to accumulate illicit profits. Furthermore, some criminal groups have been linked2
with terrorist organizations in money laundering and other activities. According to
a United Nation’s estimate, organized crime controls one quarter of the world’s gross3
domestic product. The International Monetary Fund estimates that figure to be
between two and five percent.4 Another study estimates that nine percent of the U.S.5
gross domestic product is under the control of organized crime. Should U.S. policy
1 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs,
Fiscal Year 2003 Budget Congressional Justification, May 2002.
2 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs,
Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Congressional Justification, June 2003. (Hereafter cited as INL,
FY04 Budget Justification.)
3 Fletcher N. Baldwin, Jr., Organized Crime and Money Laundering in the Americas:
Introduction, Florida Journal of International Law, vol. 14, no. 1, fall 2001, p. 44.
(Hereafter cited as Baldwin.)
4 Congressional finding in Title III of the USA-PATRIOT ACT of 2001 (P.L. 107-56).
5 Reference made to Rowan Bosworth-Davies’ study in the Financial Times Fraud Report.
and programs neglect to address transnational crime, experts fear that criminal groups
might expand their activities and perhaps strengthen their alliance with terrorist
organizations, thereby creating more serious strategic threats to U.S. interests for the
sake of their own profits.
There is no single accepted definition of transnational organized crime. In 1994,
researchers defined “transnational crime” to include offences whose inception,
prevention and/or direct or indirect effects involve more than one country.6 Other
experts suggest that “transnational organized crime” involves “any concerned or
organized group of people, which continuously practices its criminal activity and
whose main goal is to make a profit everywhere, without reference to national state
boundaries.”7 U.S. law defines organized crime as a “transnational threat” to the
national security of the United States.8
Transnational organized crime thrives especially in nations where law
enforcement institutions are weak, money laundering and corruption are rampant, and
citizens have few viable economic alternatives. Following the collapse of the Soviet
Union, for example, transnational criminal groups took advantage of the decline of
government institutions, reduction in border controls, and resurgence of ethnic and
regional conflicts in the states of the former Soviet Union and Easter Europe to
expand their criminal activities and networks across national borders. Criminal
groups also took advantage of economic globalization, expanded international travel,
faster and more direct communications, and the rapid transfer of money in the
financial system.9 Regions most affected by organized crime include Sub-Saharan
Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.10 But all regions are
affected by the growth in transnational organized crime globally.
Transnational organized crime has particular characteristics that distinguish it
from other types of crime. Experts in a United Nations pilot survey distinguish
transnational criminal groups from other criminal groups in that they have a durable
hierarchical structure, employ systematic violence and corruption, and extend their
See Baldwin, p. 43.
6 Gerhard O. W. Mueller, Transnational Crime: Definitions and Concepts, Transnational
Organized Crime, vol. 4, autumn/winter 1998, numbers 3&4.
7 Yuriy A. Voronin, Measures to Control Transnational Organized Crime, Summary, U.S.
Department of Justice, National Criminal Justice Reference Service, October 5, 2000.
8 Definition of “transnational threat”: “(A) [A]ny transnational activity (including
international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction and the delivery systems for such weapons, and organized crime) that threatens
the national security of the United States. (B) [A]ny individual or group that engages in an
activity referred to in paragraph (A).” 50 U.S.C. 402(i)(5).
9 Phil Williams and Ernesto U. Savona, The United Nations and Transnational Organized
Crime, Frank Cass (London, UK), 1996, p. 8. (Hereafter cited as Williams.)
10 M2 Presswire - UN: “Third Committee focuses on corruption, organized crime, as debate
begins on illicit drugs, criminal justice issues,” M2 Communications Ltd., October 10, 2003.
activities into the legal economy.11 These groups vary considerably in structure,
strength, size, geographical range and the scope and diversity of their operations.12
Other experts describe these groups as decentralized flat networks that take
advantage of modern technology to frequently adapt their criminal activities.13 A
Central Intelligence Agency study predicts that groups based in North America,
Western Europe, China, Colombia, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia will
increasingly form networks with each other to expand their criminal activities.14
Threats to the United States
Experts caution that measuring the true extent of transnational organized crime
is difficult because the clandestine nature of criminal activity means that much of the
crime is unreported. In some countries, law enforcement officials manipulate data
to produce self-serving reports.15 Another challenge for those trying to get a
complete picture are the differences in criminal penal codes and definitions of crime.
Despite these challenges, there is a consensus that transnational organized crime has
The U.S. government’s International Crime Threat Assessment has been
developed by an interagency working group to provide various measures of global
crime. The latest assessment, released in December 2000, concludes that the most
significant areas of criminal activity include: (1) terrorism and drug trafficking; (2)
illegal immigration, and trafficking in persons; (3) trafficking of products across
international borders; (4) economic trade crimes; and (5) financial crimes.16 From
this and other recent assessments, the following picture emerges:
!Every year illegal drugs kill more than 19 thousand Americans, and
impose $160 billion in social and economic costs17 and $50 billion
in direct costs to the United States.18 Only half of the estimated
$750 billion to $1 trillion laundered globally each year is attributed
11 R.T. Naylor, “Mafias, Myths and Markets: On the Theory and Practice of Enterprise
Crime,” Transnational Organized Crime, vol. 3, no. 3, 1997, p. 6.
12 Williams, p. 6.
13 Melvyn Levitsky, Transnational Criminal Networks and International Security, Syracuse
Journal of International Law and Commerce, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 227-249, summer 2003.
(Hereafter cited as Levitsky.)
14 National Intelligence Council, NIC 2000-02: Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the
Future With Nongovernment Experts, December 2000, p. 41.
15 Gene Stephens, “Global Trends in Crime,” The Futurist, vol. 37, issue 3, May 1, 2003.
16 International Crime Threat Assessment, December 2000. Available at [http://www.fas.org
/irp/threat/pub45270index.html], last accessed on January 7, 2004.
17 U.S. Department of State and United States Agency for International Development,
Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2004-2009, August 2003, p. 15.
18 Statement of John P. Walters, Director, Executive Office of National Drug Control Policy,
before the House Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug
Policy and Human Resources, February 27, 2003.
to drug trafficking suggesting that other crimes produce a major
share of criminal profits.19 Experts identify trafficking in cocaine
and heroin as the most profitable criminal activity for transnational
groups.20 A national survey reveals that one third of state and local
law enforcement agencies nationwide identify cocaine as their
greatest drug threat.
!Following trafficking in drugs and weapons, trafficking in persons
is widely seen as the most profitable activity for organized criminal
groups,21 and is globally estimated to generate between $3.5 billion
and $10 billion per year.22 Approximately 18,000 to 20,000 people
are trafficked into the United States every year according to the
annual trafficking report.23 Experts note that trafficked humans
forced into bondage can keep paying returns to the criminal
organization,24 so trafficking in persons can generate both short and
long term profits.
!Organized smugglers also make short-term profits from transporting
undocumented migrants into the United States for work in licit and
illicit industries.25 Alien smuggling is estimated to generate a global
profit of $9 billion per year.26 One expert estimates that organized
criminal groups smuggle 10 to 50 percent of illegal migrants.27
Another observer calculates that approximately one million people
are smuggled every year from poor to wealthier countries.28
19 INL, FY04 Budget Justification.
20 Levitsky, pp. 227-249.
21 Paul Jaskunas, “Activists Combat Sex Trafficking in east Europe,” The Post-Gazette
(Pittsburgh, PA), July 1, 2002.
22 Andreas Schloenhardt, “Migrant Trafficking and Regional Security,” Forum for Applied
Research and Public Policy, vol. 16, no. 2, summer 2001, p. 85. (Hereafter cited as
23 U.S. State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2003.
24 Louise I. Shelley, Transnational Organized Crime in the United States: Defining the
Problem, Kobe University Law Review, 1998.
25 Statement of Charles Demore, Interim Assistant Director of Investigations of Bureau of
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, before the
Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Corrections and Victims’ Rights, July
26 Statement of Tom Homan, Interim Associate Special Agent in Charge for Bureau of
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, San Diego, Department of Homeland Security,
before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and
Claim, June 24, 2003.
27 Schloenhardt, p. 85.
!The global trade in counterfeit goods is estimated to be $450
billion.29 U.S. businesses estimate annual losses of up to $250
billion from this form of counterfeit and intellectual property crime.
Transnational criminal groups organize and control the manufacture,
transport, storage and sale of counterfeit or pirated groups. Like
trafficking in persons, intellectual property crime is dominated by
criminal organizations due to the relatively low level of risk and
comparatively high level of profits.30
!Organized criminals are attracted to the United States’ open society
and free markets, and some of these groups have been known to
invest the proceeds of their illegal activities into legitimate
American financial institutions through direct and indirect means.
Other groups, mainly those involved with trafficking in drugs,
engage in bulk cash smuggling to place their illicit profits in
jurisdictions with lax financial regulations and law enforcement.
Drug traffickers use various methods to launder their profits both
inside and outside of the United States. In the United States, the
primary drug money launderers are Colombian and Mexican
One issue of considerable concern is the possibility of opportunistic links
between criminal and terrorist organizations. Both terrorist and organized criminal
groups thrive in areas with weak governmental control and law enforcement, and lax
border controls. Both groups operate in cell structures, use similar means to move
and launder money,32 and threaten the destabilization of third world governments.33
In addition, both groups target civilian populations and youth for recruitment.34
Despite these similarities, there are fundamental differences between organized
criminals and terrorists.
29 Statement of Ronald K. Noble, Secretary General of Interpol, before the House
International Relations Committee, July 16, 2003.
30 Statement of Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary of Border and Transportation Security,
Department of Homeland Security, before the House International Relations Committee,
July 16, 2003.
31 U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat
Assessment, January 2003.
32 Statement of Deborah A. McCarthy, Under Secretary of State of Bureau of International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Department of States, before the Senate Judiciary
Committee, May 20, 2003.
33 Robert S. Mueller, III, Director of Federal Bureau of Investigation, before the House
Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary, June
34 Statement of Raphael Perl, Specialist in International Affairs of Congressional Research
Service, Library of Congress, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, May 20, 2003.
Organized criminal groups are distinct from terrorist organizations in that they
focus on profit, and engage in terror only to provide a more congenial environment
for their criminal enterprises. Organized criminal groups do not generally seek to
overthrow the existing power structure,35 whereas terrorist groups by definition have
a political motivation. Some criminal organizations have used terrorist attacks
against foreign governments to disrupt investigations, eliminate effective law
enforcement officials, coerce judges into more lenient sentencing policies, and create
an environment conducive to more criminal activity. In contrast, terrorist
organizations usually engage in organized criminal activity, aside from terrorism,
only to support themselves financially,36 because terrorists view crime as a means to
a political end.
Drug trafficking investigations37 reveal that 14 of the 36 designated foreign
terrorist organizations38 engage in “narco-terrorism, often in alliance with other
traffickers.”39 Much like transnational organized crime, there is no formal definition
of “narco-terrorism.” The Department of Defense (DoD) defines the term as
“terrorism conducted to further the aims of drug traffickers. It may include
assassinations, extortion, highjackings, bombings, and kidnapings directed against
judges, prosecutors, elected officials, or law enforcement agents, and general
disruption of a legitimate government to divert attention from drug operations.”
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA):
“[N]arco-terrorism [i]s a subset of terrorism, in which terrorist groups, or
associated individuals, participate directly or indirectly in the cultivation,
manufacture, transportation, or distribution of controlled substances and the
monies derived from these activities. Further, narco-terrorism may be
characterized by the participation of groups or associated individuals in taxing,
providing security for, or otherwise aiding or abetting drug trafficking endeavors40
in an effort to further, or fund, terrorist activities.”
[A] narco-terrorist organization [i]s an organized group that is complicit in the
activities of drug trafficking in order to further, or fund, premeditated, politically
35 Williams, pp. 24-25.
36 Speech of Louise I. Shelley, Director of Transnational Crime and Corruption Center,
American University, before the National Defense University, February 20, 2002.
37 Statement of Steven W. Casteel, Assistant Administrator of Intelligence, Drug
Enforcement Administration, before the before the Senate Judiciary Committee, May 20,
38 U.S. Department of State Fact Sheet: Foreign Terrorist Organizations, May 23, 2003.
Available at [http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/2003/12389.htm], last accessed on December
39 DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, as amended through June 5, 2003.
Available at [http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/doddict/index.html], last accessed on
December 5, 2003.
40 Statement of Asa Hutchinson, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration,
Department of Justice, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on
Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information, March 13, 2002. Available at
[http://www.state.gov./g/inl/rls/rm/2002/9239.htm], last accessed on December 18, 2003.
motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets with the intention41
Experts warn about other potential links between transnational criminal groups
and terrorist organizations. Some fear that terrorists may start relying upon criminal42
group’s alien smuggling infrastructures to move between countries. Academic
experts allege that in some parts of the world terrorists have used criminal
organizations’ transportation networks to move operatives. Researchers caution that
nuclear weapons grade material might be passed to terrorist groups or pariah states43
attempting to acquire some kind of strategic nuclear capability by criminals. Some
transnational criminal groups are believed to act as weapons providers to insurgent44
and terrorist groups worldwide. The growing number of arms-for-drugs deals since
the late 1990s illustrates the relationship between organized crime, the illicit drug
trade, and arms smuggling.
U.S. Response to the Threats
The Clinton Administration. The threat of international crime to U.S.
national security was recognized in October 1995 with the Presidential Decision
Directive 42 (PDD-42). In a joint response to this threat, several federal agencies
developed the U.S. government’s International Crime Control Strategy in June
1998.45 This strategy intends to serve as “a dynamic, evolving roadmap for a
coordinated, long-term attack on international crime,” and to supplement previous
crime strategies. Despite the Administration’s efforts, an international crime control46
bill, consisting of measures designed to deter and punish international crime and
promote global cooperation, was not enacted by the 105th Congress or subsequently.
The Bush Administration. In April 2001, the Assistant to the President for
National Security Affairs established a multiagency Policy Coordination Committee
on International Organized Crime (PCC) under the National Security Council (NSC),
to coordinate policy formulation, program oversight, and new initiatives related to
transnational crime issues. According to a General Accounting Office (GAO) report
41 Drug Intelligence Brief, Drugs and Terrorism: A New Perspective, Drug Enforcement
Administration, September 2002. Available at [http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/intel/
02039/02039p.html], last accessed on December 18, 2003. (Hereafter cited as DEA
42 INL, FY04 Budget Justification.
43 Williams, p. 23.
44 Tamara Makarenko, “Tracing the Dynamics of the Illicit Arms Trade,” Jane’s Intelligence
Review, September 1, 2003.
45 National Security Council, International Crime Control Strategy, June 1998. Available
at [http://clinton4.nara.gov/media/pdf/iccs.pdf], last accessed on December 4, 2003.
46 On July 14, 1998, the International Crime Control Act (S. 2303) was introduced, and
referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
on international crime control,47 the Administration is reviewing “the issue of
international crime and the framework of the U.S. response.” Meanwhile, the
framework for the U.S. response, created by PDD-42 and the International Crime
Control Strategy of 1998, remain in effect until the Administration completes its
review. Other national security priorities related to transnational crime include the
National Security Strategy of the United States, the National Strategy for Homeland
Security, and the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.48
Congressional Action. Congress has relied upon the authorization and
appropriation process to direct U.S. policy and programs to combat transnational
crime. Congress has taken a lead role in pressing federal agencies to develop
programs dealing with crimes such as trafficking in persons. During formal
committee hearings, Members have questioned executive officials about their
agency’s activities related to combating transnational crime. Officials from the
Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and State, among others, have testified
about their respective programs and responded to Members’ queries. A number of
hearings have focused on crimes such as drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, and
smuggling in counterfeit products. Appropriation hearings also have addressed
transnational crime issues in the context of reorganization of law enforcement
agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In addition to authorizing and funding programs, Congress has provided law
enforcement agencies with several tools to combat transnational organized crime
through legislation. Prosecutors and law enforcement officials have relied upon
forfeiture laws to seize criminal assets. Congress continues to add offenses to federal
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) provisions of the Organized
Crime Control Act of 1970 on a regular basis. Congress expanded federal
extraterritorial criminal jurisdiction in 2002 by passing the USA PATRIOT Act and
other homeland security and counterterrorism legislation.
Key Federal Programs. A number of federal programs have been put in
place to fight transnational organized crime unilaterally and in cooperation with other
countries. The NSC has identified 34 federal entities that have significant roles in
fighting transnational crime, but cautioned that it is not an exhaustive compilation.49
Federal agencies leading the U.S. government’s efforts to combat transnational
organized crime include the Departments of Defense, Justice, Treasury, Homeland
Security, and State. Each agency has offices and programs that address some element
of the United States’ fight against transnational crime. For some types of crime,
agencies have designed programs that require coordination among federal law
enforcement and intelligence officials to develop an integrated approach to their
activities. While other programs treat specific elements of international crime, the
following programs focus broadly on transnational organized criminal activities.
47 General Accounting Office Report to Senator Ben N. Campbell, International Crime
Control: Sustained Executive-Level Coordination of Federal Response Needed, GAO-01-
48 INL, FY04 Budget Justification.
49 GAO Report, p. 38.
Drug Interdiction and Monitoring Operations. According to the
Executive Office of National Drug Control Policy, interdiction can damage the drug
trade because agencies such as the DoD rely on intelligence to narrow the search and
seek out natural choke points where drug trafficking organizations exist.50
Department of Defense. As the lead federal agency for detecting and
monitoring aerial and maritime movement of illegal drugs toward the United States,
DoD provides intelligence support to U.S. law enforcement agencies to disrupt the51
flow of drugs while in transit into the United States. Intelligence analysts are
deployed to key countries, where illicit drug production and transit occurs, to assist
the DEA in planning and executing major counternarcotics cases. Joint interagency
task forces coordinate interdiction operations in the transit zone, and the Customs’
Domestic Air Interdiction Center monitors air approaches into the United States. In
addition, under the Department of Justice’s Southwest Border Initiative, the Armed
Forces’s Joint Task Force-Six and Operation Alliance coordinate drug-control
activities along the southwest border of the United States.
Criminal Investigations. Both the Departments of Justice and Homeland
Security have programs in place to investigate transnational crimes. Whereas some
of these investigations require coordination among federal, state, and local law
enforcement officials and U.S. Attorneys, others require federal law enforcement
officials to coordinate transnational investigations with foreign governments.
Department of Justice. The Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and
Racketeering Section (OCRS) provides prosecutors to U.S. Attorneys’ Offices’
Crime Strike Force Units, who supervise investigations and prosecutions of52
transnational organized criminal groups. OCRS prosecutors work with U.S. and
foreign law enforcement agencies to facilitate the necessary flow of information and
evidence among these agencies, and to counsel U.S. agents on timing and strategy
issues.53 The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Organized Crime program
places Special Agents in domestic field offices to investigate criminal organizations
within their jurisdiction. Joint task forces composed of federal, state and local law
enforcement officials allow the FBI to pool additional resources to combat organized
50 Executive Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Drug Control Strategy
Update 2003, III. Disrupting the Market: Attacking the Basis of the Drug Trade, February
iiidisrpt_mkt.html], last accessed on December 18, 2003.
51 The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Drug Control
Strategy, FY2004 Budget Summary, February 2003, p. 13. Available at
[ h t t p : / / www.whi t e ho u s e d r u gp o l i c y. go v/ p u b l i c a t i o n s / p o l icy/ 04budget/fy04budgetsum.pdf],
last accessed on December 8, 2003.
52 U.S. Department of Justice Fact Sheet: Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.
Available at [http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/ocrs.html], last accessed on December 2, 2003.
53 Statement of Bruce S. Swartz, Deputy Assistant General of Criminal Division, Department
of Justice, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on European
Affairs, October 30, 2003.
crime.54 Currently, the Organized Crime Section has 245 ongoing cases dealing just
with Eurasian organized crime,55 of which the most cited cases involve fraud, money
laundering, extortion, drug trafficking and auto theft.
For overseas investigations, the FBI’s Office of International Operation directs
the Legal Attache Program to foster cooperation with foreign law enforcement
officials. FBI agents, known as Legats, are stationed overseas in 52 countries to
provide foreign law enforcement agencies assistance with training activities, and in
turn receive foreign cooperation in gathering evidence related to domestic
investigations of crimes such as drug trafficking.56 In addition, DEA special agents
are stationed in 58 foreign countries to work with foreign law enforcement agencies
in bilateral drug investigations. Tasks of DEA agents include: to develop sources of
information and interview witnesses; to provide information about drug traffickers
to their foreign counterparts and pursue investigative leads; and, to seek indictments
against major foreign traffickers who have committed crimes against American
Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) is the Department of Homeland Security’s largest investigative
bureau. Within ICE, the Office of Investigations has a mission of investigating
crimes including alien smuggling, narcotics and contraband smuggling, and financial
crimes.58 The Financial Investigations Division seeks to protect American financial
service systems from money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, intellectual property
rights violations, counterfeit goods trafficking, and other financial crimes. The
Smuggling/Trafficking Branch seeks to disrupt and prosecute criminal organizations
that smuggle people into the United States or traffic in persons. In addition, the
Contraband Smuggling Branch focuses its investigations on organized smuggling
Multilateral Investigative Cooperation. Federal agencies have designed
certain programs for U.S. law enforcement officials to participate in international
organizations and foster regional and global cooperation. Agencies involved in these
programs include the Departments of Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security.
54 FBI Investigative Programs Fact Sheet: About Organized Crime. Available at
[http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/orgcrime/aboutocs.htm], last accessed on December 2, 2003.
55 Statement of Grant D. Ashley, Assistant Director of Criminal Division, Federal Bureau
of Investigation, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on
European Affairs, October 30, 2003.
56 FBI Fact Sheet: Legats, Available at [http://www.fbi.gov/contact/legat/legat.htm], last
accessed on December 2, 2003.
57 DEA Programs Fact Sheet: Foreign Cooperative Investigations. Available at
[http://www.dea.gov/programs/fci.htm], last accessed on December 2, 2003.
58 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Fact
Sheet: Office of Investigations. Available at [http://www.bice.immigration.gov/graphics/
about/organization/org_oi.htm], last accessed on December 3, 2003.
Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. The International
Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), promotes cooperation among foreign
law enforcement institutions in different countries to combat transnational criminal
activities such as organized crime, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, trafficking
in persons, money laundering, and financial crimes. A National Central Bureau
(NCB) in every INTERPOL member country serves as the single point of contact for
cooperating in overseas criminal investigations. Each member country staffs its
Bureau with its own law enforcement officials who are authorized to act within its
The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security jointly control the USNCB,
which coordinates U.S. federal, state and local law enforcement efforts to assist U.S.
and foreign law enforcement agencies in INTERPOL member countries in
investigating international criminal activities.59 INTERPOL’s new global
communication system, I-24/7, allows NCBs to search and cross-check law
enforcement intelligence from multiple sources within seconds. INTERPOL hopes
that this network will assist NCBs in responding more quickly and efficiently to
transnational criminal activities.60
Department of Treasury. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
(FinCEN) supports U.S. law enforcement agencies in international financial crime
investigations, and provides U.S. policymakers with strategic analyses of global
money laundering developments, trends, and patterns. FinCEN cooperates with 32
counterpart foreign government institutions in the Financial Action Task Force
(FATF), an inter-governmental organization, to address global money laundering
issues. FATF encourages countries to adopt agreed standards, designed as a blueprint
for national anti-money laundering legislation and programs.61 In June 2000, FATF
engaged in a major initiative to identify non-cooperative countries and territories
(NCCTs)62 which either have deficient anti-money laundering systems, or have
refused to cooperate in international anti-money laundering efforts. The United
States has reviewed the countries and territories on the NCCT list, and issued
advisories to U.S. financial institutions about the risks they face in those countries’
FinCEN acts as the United States’ Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to
participate in global networks that coordinate strategies to combat transnational
59 U.S. Department of Justice, USNCB Fact Sheet: Mission. Available at
[http://www.usdoj.gov/usncb/usncborg/mission.html], last accessed on December 8, 2003.
60 INTERPOL Fact Sheet: Connecting Police: I-24/7, Interpol’s Global Communication
System. Available at [http://www.interpol.int/Public/ICPO/FactSheets/FS200301.asp], last
accessed on December 8, 2003.
61 FATF’s newest anti-money laundering standards were released on June 20, 2003. For
more information on FATF, visit [http://www.fatf-gafi.org/], last accessed on December 8,
62 As of December 2, 2003 the current list of NCCTs includes: Cook Islands, Egypt,
Guatemala, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), Nauru, Nigeria, Philippines, and Ukraine. FATF
document, June 20, 2003. Available at [http://www.fatf-gafi.org/pdf/PR-20030620_en.pdf],
last accessed on December 8, 2003.
crime. In general, FIUs analyze financial information to support their respective
governments’ anti-money laundering efforts. The Egmont Group is an international
network comprised of FinCEN and FIUs from 68 other countries. The Group
supports expanding and systematizing the exchange of financial intelligence
information, and applying technology to foster better and secure communication
among the FIUs.
Foreign Law Enforcement Training and Assistance. Endeavoring to
improve cooperation with foreign governments and law enforcement authorities, U.S.
government agencies have developed foreign assistance programs to build
relationships and capabilities. Programs designed by the Departments of State,
Justice, and Defense seek to provide foreign law enforcement officials investigative
training, equipment, and related assistance.
Department of State. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law
Enforcement Affairs (INL) develops, implements, and monitors U.S. international
narcotics control strategies and foreign assistance programs that support the
President’s National Drug Control Strategy and other anti-crime policies. After
recognizing a nexus between drug traffickers, terrorists, and other criminal groups,
INL shifted to a more integrated law enforcement effort.63 The Bureau also funds and
oversees several programs to combat trafficking in humans through the Department’s
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
INL’s International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) Global
Anticrime Programs bring in multiple federal agencies to assist foreign governments
in strengthening their capacity to investigate and prosecute major drug trafficking
organizations and attack narcotics production and trafficking centers. INCLE global
anticrime programs require U.S. law enforcement officials to engage in bilateral
cooperation with foreign governments through extradition and mutual legal
assistance treaties, information exchanges, technical assistance, law enforcement
training and provision of equipment. These programs focus on financial crime and
money laundering, corruption, alien smuggling, border security, cyber- and
intellectual property crime, and other law enforcement training needs.
Several U.S. law enforcement agencies participate in the U.S. sponsored
International Law Enforcement Academies’ (ILEAs) programs, coordinated among
the Departments of State, Justice, Treasury and foreign governments. The ILEAs
provide training and technical assistance to foreign law enforcement and judicial
officials, foster relationships between U.S. agencies and their counterparts in the
regions where the ILEAs are located, and promote international law enforcement64
cooperation generally. Specialized training programs, coordinated with INL, the
Department of Justice entities and research institutions, familiarize foreign
63 INL, FY04 Budget Justification, p. 4.
64 Currently, INL is operating ILEAs in Budapest, Bangkok, Gaborone and Roswell, and
negotiating with the Government of Costa Rica to establish an ILEA in San Jose. U.S.
Department of State Fact Sheet, International Law Enforcement Academies, May 7, 2003.
Available at [http://www.state.gov/g/inl/rls/fs/20280.htm], last accessed on December 3,
prosecutors and investigators with problems unique to organized crime cases, and
provide them practical exposure to investigative tools.65 The ILEA in Roswell, New
Mexico, opened in 2001 to provide training and assistance to foreign officials who
have graduated from the regional ILEAs. One of the ILEA Roswell courses teaches
techniques for conducting statistical research in crime analysis, transnational crime
trends and rates, community expectations, and employee perspectives. The course
also exposes students to strategies for addressing cultural, social, legal, and political
obstacles to effective policing.66
Department of Justice. Under the auspices of the INCLE anticrime programs,
officials from the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program
(ICITAP) assist foreign governments in enhancing capabilities of police forces in
emerging democracies.67 These training and assistance programs intend to develop
professional civilian-based law enforcement institutions, and foster team-building
approaches to detect, investigate and prosecute organized crime. In an effort to
strengthen bilateral investigations, the DEA Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU)
Training program identifies and trains foreign drug enforcement officials at the DEA
Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. This five-week specialized training
program is organized by DEA’s Office of International Operations, and has provided
training to over 1,500 SIU personnel in countries that include Mexico, Colombia,
Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.68
Department of Defense. DOD is also authorized to provide training for U.S.
and foreign drug law enforcement agencies and foreign military forces with drug
enforcement responsibilities. Section 1004 of the National Defense Authorization
Act (NDAA) authorizes DOD to assist foreign military, law enforcement, and
intelligence agencies, and our domestic law enforcement with activities such as:
establishment of bases of operations or training facilities; detection, monitoring, and
communication of trafficking activities; and aerial and ground reconnaissance
missions. Section 1033 of the NDAA allows DOD to provide foreign governments
with various types of non-lethal equipment for their counternarcotics activities.
Potential Congressional Concerns
Does the United States Give Adequate Priority to Transnational Crime,
with the Heightened Focus on Terrorism? While recognizing the impact of
65 Statement of Steven Schrage, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and
Law Enforcement Affairs, Department of State, before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, Subcommittee on European Affairs, October 30, 2003.
66 U.S. Department of State, International Law Enforcement Academy - Roswell, Course
Description, June 2001. Available at [http://www.ilearoswell.us/pdf/course.pdf], last
accessed on December 5, 2003.
67 U.S. Department of Justice Organization Fact Sheet: International Criminal Investigative
Training Assistance Program. Available at [http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/icitap/
index.html], last accessed on December 2, 2003.
68 DEA Training Programs Fact Sheet: International Training. Available at
[http://www.dea.gov/programs/training/part19.html], last accessed on December 2, 2003.
transnational criminal activities on American communities and businesses, U.S.
policymakers also have to concentrate on other national security threats. Following
September 11, 2001, federal agencies have restructured their programs and resources
to focus on the war on terrorism. Analysts who criticize the level of federal spending
on counterterrorism programs compared to other anti-crime efforts argue that the
economic losses from terrorist attacks are small by comparison to transnational
crimes such as drug trafficking. However, other analysts warn policymakers that
psychological and political costs, in addition to direct economic losses, are
potentially enormous and unquantifiable.
Some analysts have criticized the tendency for law enforcement officials to use
“terrorist,” “criminal,” and “insurgent” to define the same person or organization.
For example, the DEA calls Pablo Escobar a “narco-terrorist,” both a drug trafficker
and a terrorist.69 Some agencies are suspected of using the terrorism nexus to receive
additional funds for programs related to transnational crime under the guise of
counterterrorism. Experts argue that some of the same vulnerabilities in the global
financial system allow both terrorist and criminal organizations to pursue their illegal
activities. A coordinated law enforcement and intelligence approach that targets key
vulnerabilities may effectively combat both groups.
What, If Any, Performance Measures Are in Place to Monitor the
Effectiveness of Federal Programs Related to Transnational Crime?
Following a GAO inquiry, an NSC official revealed that a performance measurement
system, envisioned under the 1998 International Crime Control Strategy, was never
established, because individual agencies were given discretion to devise and70
implement their own measurement systems. Analysts urge agencies to establish a
system to measure the effectiveness of their transnational crime control programs.
Such a mechanism may provide an agency some flexibility to adapt its strategies and
program activities. Agency officials may argue that performance measures are hard
to formulate because of the challenges associated with obtaining accurate
international criminal data. Another challenge for agencies is to establish a uniform
system across programs to measure the overall impact on transnational crime.
Some observers propose developing a network similar to the Department of
Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which
coordinates federal law enforcement efforts to combat national and international
organizations that cultivate, process, and distribute illicit drugs. Whereas OCDETF
focuses on drug trafficking, a parallel task force could focus on other forms of
trafficking that involve transnational criminal organizations. This task force could
also expand its network overseas to include foreign law enforcement and intelligence
officials in pursuing major investigations.
Are Benefits Associated with Increase Overseas Presence of U.S. Law
Enforcement and Intelligence Officials Worth the Corresponding Risks?
Some experts support the increased overseas presence of FBI, DEA and other federal
agents in an effort to gain cooperation from foreign law enforcement officials on
69 DEA Terrorism Brief.
70 GAO Report, pp. 81-83.
criminal investigations to dismantle transnational organizations. Law enforcement
experts commend the ILEA programs for building networks to combat transnational
crime. DOD officials are also supported for their overseas military operations to
pursue counternarcotics activities. Other experts remind policymakers that
objections to American presence have provoked terrorist attacks in the past. For
example, in 1993, Osama bin Laden trained the Somali tribesmen who ambushed
U.S. peacekeeping forces in Somalia.71 In 2003, leftist guerrillas in Colombia
kidnaped three American contractors and, according to a journalist, have killed four
American contractors since 2002.72
Would Increased Participation in Multilateral Institutions Help or Hinder
U.S. Criminal Investigations? Some observers propose that the United States build
additional international law enforcement networks because transnational cooperation
supports domestic investigations, intelligence gathering, and helps to develop a
worldwide strategy to combat transnational crime. Proponents argue that multilateral
institutions can develop international standards for documentation requirements (e.g.,
passports, bills of lading) among nations, and efficient mechanisms to identify
fraudulent documents that facilitate criminal activities. Others are concerned about
possible complications that might arise from the sharing of law enforcement
techniques and intelligence with foreign governments. Organized criminal groups
invest in the corruption of government officials in several countries in order to
weaken law enforcement institutions that would otherwise undermine their activities.
Furthermore, some experts believe multilateral organizations are not very effective,
while participation is time-consuming and labor-intensive.
71 Ivan Eland, Does U.S. Intervention Overseas Breed Terrorism? CATO Institute, Foreign
Policy Briefing, No. 50. December 17, 1998. Available at [http://www.cato.org/
pubs/fpbriefs/fpb50.pdf], last accessed on December 19, 2003.
72 Nicole Elana Karsin, Escalating U.S. Casualties in Colombia, Colombia Report,
Information Network of the Americas, April 14, 2003.
CRS Report 97-139, Crime and Forfeiture, by Charles Doyle.
CRS Report RL30252, Intelligence and Law Enforcement: Countering
Transnational Threats to the U.S., by Richard A. Best, Jr.
CRS Report RL31557, Terrorism and Extraterritorial Jurisdiction in Criminal
Cases: Recent Developments, by Charles Doyle.
CRS Report RS20376, RICO: An Abridged Sketch, by Charles Doyle.
CRS Report RS21032, Money Laundering: Current Law and Proposal, by Maureen
CRS Report RL30545, Trafficking in Women and Children: The U.S. and
International Response, by Francis T. Miko.
CRS Report 98-958, Extradition To and From the United States: Overview of the
Law and Recent Treaties, by Charles Doyle.