Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Enhance Intelligence and Information Sharing

A shift in U.S. intelligence collection priorities since the September 11, 2001 attacks left significant gaps in TOC-related intelligence. Meanwhile, the TOC threat has worsened and grown in complexity over the past 15 years. The fluid nature of TOC networks, which includes the use of criminal facilitators, makes targeting TOC increasingly difficult.

Enhancing U.S. intelligence collection, analysis, and counterintelligence on TOC is a necessary first step, but should be accompanied by collaboration with law enforcement authorities at Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial levels and enhanced sharing with foreign counterparts. We will also supplement our understanding of TOC involvement in licit commercial sectors to better enable policymakers to develop specific interventions. Our aim is enhanced intelligence that is broad-based and centered on substan- tially upgraded signals intelligence (SIGINT), human intelligence (HUMINT) and open sources intelligence (OSINT). This effort will be aided through greater information sharing with foreign partners and closer cooperation among intelligence, law enforcement, and other applicable agencies domestically.

We will augment our intelligence in step with the new TOC threats described previously. The Administration will review its current intelligence priorities, including the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, and determine how best to enhance our intelligence against the highest-level TOC threats to national security. Priorities will include:

  • Enhancing SIGINT and HUMINT collection on TOC threats, especially taking into account the potential role of TOC to facilitate WMD terrorism;
  • Employing the Open Source Center to draw upon “grey” literature, smaller press outlets that cover crime in foreign countries, and social media fora to develop profiles of individuals, com- panies, and institutions linked to TOC networks;
  • Coordinating with the interagency International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) to utilize existing resources and databases of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Fusion Center (OFC) and SOD to share intelligence, de-conflict operations, and produce actionable leads for investigators and prosecutors working nationwide;
  • Expanding collection and immigration, customs, transportation, and critical infrastructure screening capabilities in TOC “hotspots” around the world;
  • Developing protocols to ensure appropriate TOC data flows to agencies conducting screening and interdiction operations to disrupt TOC activities at the border and at critical points of the supply chain;
  • Using specialized intelligence centers such as the El Paso Intelligence Center, the Bulk Cash Smuggling Center, the National Export Enforcement Coordination Center, and the Cyber Crimes Center to coordinate the collection and analysis of intelligence regarding various aspects of the TOC threat;
  • Using the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, an interagency and inter- national law enforcement task force established in 2000 and led by ICE, to assist with combating intellectual property theft and maintaining the integrity of public health, public safety, the military, and the U.S. economy; and
  • Enhancing Department of Defense support to U.S. law enforcement through the Narcotics and Transnational Crime Support Center.


  1. Enhance U.S. intelligence collection, analysis, and counterintelligence on TOC entities that pose the greatest threat to national security.
  2. Develop greater synergies between intelligence analysts, collectors, and counterintelligence personnel; ensure their efforts directly support operational law enforcement needs and screening requirements.
  3. Strengthen ties among U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence, law enforcement, and military enti- ties, while strengthening cooperation with international intelligence and law enforcement partners.
  4. Develop and foster stronger law enforcement and Intelligence Community relationships among Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial authorities.
  5. Support multilateral senior law enforcement exchanges to promote the sharing of criminal intel- ligence and enhance cooperation, such as the “Quintet of Attorneys-General” and the “Strategic Alliance Group” fora established with the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
  6. Update the National Intelligence Priorities Framework to ensure that it is aligned with current TOC threats.
  7. Enhance support to Intelligence Community analysis of TOC by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, specifically by the National Intelligence Council and the National Intelligence Managers.
  8. The National Counterproliferation Center shall develop a plan that assesses the links between TOC and WMD proliferators.
  9. Establish a comprehensive and proactive information-sharing mechanism to identify TOC actors and exclude them from the United States or uncover them within the United States.


The Special Operations Division

Established in 1994, the Special Operations Division (SOD) is a DEA-led multi-agency operations coor- dination center with participation from Federal law enforcement agencies, the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, and international law enforcement partners. SOD’s mission is to establish strategies and operations to dismantle national and international trafficking organizations by attacking their command and control communications. Special emphasis is placed on those major drug trafficking and narco-terrorism organizations that operate across jurisdictional boundaries on a regional, national, and international level. SOD provides foreign- and domestic-based law enforcement agents with timely investigative information that enables them to fully exploit Federal law enforcement’s investigative author- ity under Title III of the U.S. Code. SOD coordinates overlapping investigations, ensuring that tactical and operational intelligence is shared among law enforcement agencies.

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Fusion Center

Created in June 2006, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Fusion Center (OFC) serves as a central data warehouse for drug intelligence, financial intelligence, and related investigative information, and is designed to conduct cross-agency integration and analysis of such data with a view to creating comprehensive intelligence pictures of targeted organizations, including those identified as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets—the United States’ most wanted international drug and money laundering targets. The OFC provides agencies with operational human and financial intelligence, and is staffed with agents and analysts detailed from 14 participating investigative agencies. These personnel conduct analysis to produce investigative leads, develop target profiles, and identify links between drug organizations and other criminal activity in support of drug investigations.

The International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center

In May 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the establishment of the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2), an entity that marshals the resources and information of U.S. law enforcement agencies and Federal prosecutors to collectively combat the threats posed by inter- national criminal organizations. Understanding that international criminal organizations are profit-driven, IOC-2 also works with investigators and prosecutors to target the criminal proceeds and assets of inter- national criminal organizations. In recognition of the demonstrated interrelationship between criminal organizations that engage in illicit drug trafficking and those that engage in international organized crime involving a broader range of criminal activity, IOC-2 works in close partnership with the OFC and SOD.

The Bulk Cash Smuggling Center

ICE established the National Bulk Cash Smuggling Center (BCSC) in 2009 to combat bulk cash smuggling. The BCSC is an operations support facility providing real-time investigative assistance to the Federal, State, and local officers involved in enforcement and interdiction of bulk cash smuggling and the transportation of illicit proceeds. The BCSC is partnered with the El Paso Intelligence Center to further identify and target the financial infrastructure of drug trafficking organizations. These organizations seek to avoid traditional financial institutions by repatriating illicit proceeds through commercial and private aircraft, passenger and commercial vehicles, maritime vessels, and pedestrians crossing at our U.S. land borders. These combined interagency efforts, successful financial investigations, Bank Secrecy Act requirements, and anti-money laundering compliance by financial institutions has strengthened formal financial systems and forced criminal organizations to seek other means to transport illicit funds across our borders.

The EPIC Border Intelligence Fusion Section

The El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), managed by the DEA, was established in 1974 to support enforce- ment efforts against drug and alien smuggling along the Southwest border. EPIC has grown over time to better support Federal, State, local and tribal law enforcement. The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis established the Border Intelligence Fusion Section (BIFS) at EPIC in November 2010 with the objective of providing U.S. law enforcement, border enforcement, and investigative agencies with multi-source intel- ligence and law enforcement information to support investigations, interdictions, and other law enforce- ment operations related to the Southwest border. The BIFS is a joint, collaborative effort of the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and partners in the Intelligence Community and, as a multi-source/all threats intelligence section at EPIC, the BIFS will access and analyze intelligence and information received by and developed at EPIC in order to produce a common intelligence picture and common operating picture.