Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime

For decades, the United States and other countries have dismantled scores of criminal organizations around the world. The U.S. experience with La Cosa Nostra, as well as Colombia’s experience with the Medellin and Cali Cartels—and even the FARC—prove that it is possible to constrain, shrink, disrupt and dismantle criminal and insurgent groups once considered to be untouchable.

This Strategy builds upon such past experience. Today the threat from TOC is more complicated because criminal networks are more fluid and are using increasingly sophisticated tactics. TOC can exploit the interconnected nature of our modern trading, transportation, and transactional systems that move people and commerce throughout the global economy and across our borders. Countering TOC today requires an integrated and comprehensive approach. This Strategy sets out such an approach to raise international awareness about the reality of the TOC threat to international security; galvanize multilateral action to constrain the reach and influence of TOC; deprive TOC of its enabling means and infrastructure; shrink the threat TOC poses to citizen safety, national security, and governance; and ultimately defeat the TOC networks that pose the greatest threat to national security. TOC presents sophisticated and multi-faceted threats that cannot be addressed through law enforcement action alone. Accordingly, we will establish an interagency Threat Mitigation Working Group to identify those TOC networks that present a sufficiently high national security threat as to merit the focused use of complementary law enforcement and non-law enforcement assets and that may be vulnerable to whole-of-government responses. The Working Group will ensure the coordination of all elements of national power to effectively protect our borders, people, economy, and financial system from the threats posed by the most dangerous and sophisticated of these transnational criminal networks.

This Strategy sets out five overarching policy objectives that are consistent with the vision and priorities of the National Security Strategy:

1. Protect Americans and our partners from the harm, violence, and exploitation of transna­tional criminal networks. Our priority is the safety, security, and prosperity of American citizens and the citizens of partner nations. We will target the networks that pose the gravest threat to citizen safety and security, including those that traffic illicit drugs, arms, and people—espe­cially women and children; sell and distribute substandard, tainted and counterfeit goods; rob Americans of their prosperity; carry out kidnappings for ransom and extortion; and seek to terrorize and intimidate through acts of torture and murder.

2. Help partner countries strengthen governance and transparency, break the corruptive power of transnational criminal networks, and sever state-crime alliances. The United States needs willing, reliable and capable partners to combat the corruption and instability generated by TOC and related threats to governance. We will help international partners develop the sustainable capacities necessary to defeat transnational threats; strengthen legitimate and effective public safety, security, and justice institutions; and promote universal values. We will also seek to sever the powerful strategic alliances that form between TOC and states, including those between TOC networks and foreign intelligence services.

3. Break the economic power of transnational criminal networks and protect strategic markets and the U.S. financial system from TOC penetration and abuse. TOC networks—using bribery, fraud, and violence—have the capacity to disrupt economic activity and put legitimate busi­nesses at a distinct competitive disadvantage. We will attack the financial underpinnings of the top transnational criminals; strip them of their illicit wealth; sever their access to the financial system; expose their criminal activities hidden behind legitimate fronts; and protect strategic markets and the U.S. financial system.

4. Defeat transnational criminal networks that pose the greatest threat to national security, by targeting their infrastructures, depriving them of their enabling means, and preventing the criminal facilitation of terrorist activities. We will target, disrupt, and defeat the TOC networks that pose the greatest threat to the safety and security of Americans and U.S. national security interests. These include criminal networks—including transnational criminal gangs—that traffic drugs, bulk cash, arms, people, sensitive documents, or other contraband. Further, we will seek to prevent collaboration between criminal and terrorist networks and deprive them of their critical resources and infrastructure, such as funding, logistical support for transportation, stag­ing, procurement, safe havens for illicit activities, and the facilitation of services and materiel, which could include WMD material.

5. Build international consensus, multilateral cooperation, and public-private partnerships to defeat transnational organized crime. We will build new partnerships—with industry, finance, academia, civil society and non-governmental organizations—to combat TOC networks that operate in the illicit and licit worlds. We will also fight criminal networks with an alliance of legitimate networks, and ensure the freedom of the press so that the media and journalists may safely expose the harms inflicted by TOC. We will expand and deepen our understand­ing, cooperation, and information sharing at home with State and local agencies, with foreign partners, and with multilateral institutions. Internationally, we will further international norms against tolerating or sponsoring crime in all its forms, including in cyberspace.