Progress in Efforts to Combat International Crime

Progress in Efforts to Combat International Crime

December 15, 2000


The spread of international crime since the end of the Cold War is a significant, complex and growing phenomenon that threatens U.S. citizens and vital interests both at home and abroad. The same attributes of globalization – more open borders, increased volume of international trade, advances in technology and communications – that have promoted important U.S. interests have also facilitated the dramatic growth of international crime. International crime threatens the safety, security and prosperity of Americans everywhere, and can undermine our nation’s ability to promote stable democracies and free markets as well as our ability to preserve global security and stability.

The Clinton Administration has placed a high priority on efforts to combat international crime. To meet this challenge, the Administration implemented a broad U.S. Government attack on international crime through the issuance in October 1995 of PDD-42, the Presidential Decision Directive on International Organized Crime. As a result, leading federal agencies have worked more closely than ever before in identifying, targeting, investigating, prosecuting and disrupting the major transnational crime groups.

U.S. intelligence, law enforcement, diplomatic and other key officials have coordinated their efforts in addressing all facets of this global problem, including but not limited to drug and arms trafficking, money laundering, migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons, intellectual property theft, and foreign official corruption. These efforts, many of which have been undertaken pursuant to the President’s International Crime Control Strategy released in May 1998, have resulted in substantial progress against international crime.

Drug Trafficking and Abuse

The United States has implemented a balanced and multifaceted approach to addressing this urgent problem, including a full range of demand reduction, treatment and supply reduction programs carried out both domestically and in cooperation with countries around the globe. By 2007, the Administration hopes to cut illegal drug use and availability in the United States by 50 percent.

Effective eradication and interdiction programs, typically in cooperation with international partners, have prevented tons of illicit drugs from reaching U.S. and other world markets.

Sustained efforts by the United States, working closely with international partners, have led to the dismantling of several major international trafficking organizations, including the Cali and Juvenal organizations in Colombia.

New programs have been implemented to identify and target drug kingpins and their organizations using economic sanctions pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. These sanctions block drug trafficking assets in the United States and shut off U.S. markets and financial institutions from designated drug traffickers and their associates.

A $1.3 billion emergency supplemental provided a substantial increase in U.S. support for Plan Colombia, President Pastrana’s comprehensive effort to combat drug trafficking and to strengthen democracy and the economy. This package of enhanced U.S. assistance, approved by Congress in June 2000, will help Colombia to improve illicit drug interdiction and eradication capabilities, promote alternate crops and jobs, expand the rule of law, protect human rights and promote the peace process. In addition, the United States has increased assistance for other countries in the region, primarily to consolidate counter-drug gains in the major Andean drug-producing countries and to ensure that successful law enforcement efforts in Colombia do not simply drive illicit drug cultivation and production into neighboring countries.

At the second Summit of the Americas held in Santiago, Chile, in 1998, 34 Presidents, including President Clinton, agreed to create a new Hemispheric Alliance Against Drugs. The centerpiece of this Alliance is a pledge to create a Mutual Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) for hemispheric information sharing and cooperation. The MEM is an unprecedented initiative designed to catalog the counter-drug initiatives undertaken by the countries in the hemisphere, share best practices, and provide a basis for comparing and improving national actions.

Arms Trafficking

The United States has taken a wide range of steps to address growing international concern about trafficking in small arms and light weapons. U.S. efforts have promoted regional security, peace and reconciliation in regions of conflict and helped to shut down illicit arms markets that fuel the violence associated with terrorism and international organized crime.

The United States was a leader in concluding the OAS Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, the first international agreement designed to prevent, combat, and eradicate illicit trafficking in firearms, ammunition, and explosives. The United States continues to work toward completion of the Protocol to Combat the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components. This protocol to the recently adopted United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime would build on and globalize the standards incorporated in the precedent-setting OAS Convention.

Money Laundering

The Departments of Treasury and Justice have implemented the first-ever National Money Laundering Strategy, a comprehensive action plan to target illicit crime proceeds. Among other measures pursuant to this strategy, the United States, in cooperation with the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, is identifying, exposing and sanctioning countries with inadequate money laundering regimes. Financial institutions from persistently uncooperative states face penalties including loss of access to the U.S. banking system.

Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons

Today, the Departments of State and Justice announced the establishment of a Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons Coordination Center pursuant to the goals established in the President’s International Crime Control Strategy.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants are moved by international smuggling organizations, often in harsh or even inhumane transit conditions, from their countries of origin to the United States. The United Nations estimates indicate that migrant smuggling has grown to a $7 billion per year global criminal industry.

Trafficking in persons, with women and children as the predominant targets of criminal enterprises, involves at least 700,000 new victims annually and occurs both within countries and across national borders. At least 45,000 – 50,000 victims are trafficked to the United States each year. These victims are typically coerced or lured through fraud into slavery-like conditions.

This interagency initiative will achieve greater integration and overall effectiveness in U.S. Government enforcement and other response actions. The Center will bring together representatives from the policy, law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic communities in one central location. These personnel will facilitate information sharing and support the work of U.S. government entities with policy coordination responsibilities and law enforcement-related task forces that separately address migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. The Center will also promote and assist intensified efforts by foreign governments and international organizations to combat migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons.

The Center will help to advance the three primary objectives of the U.S. Government strategy to counter migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons: (1) prevent and deter smuggling and trafficking activity; (2) investigate and prosecute the criminals involved in this activity; and (3) protect and assist victims as provided in applicable law and policy.

Earlier initiatives in furtherance of this strategy included the establishment of the President’s Interagency Council on Women to coordinate the U.S. Government response to trafficking in persons; passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and formation of the Alien Smuggling Task Force by the Department of Justice.

Intellectual Property Theft

The Department of Justice has launched a major initiative to promote increased domestic enforcement against violations of intellectual property rights. This initiative also encourages other nations to enact appropriate laws protecting intellectual property rights and to take effective enforcement action. In addition, the Customs Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation established an Intellectual Property Rights Center to coordinate an improved flow of intelligence information in support of enforcement action by the United States and other countries.

Foreign Official Corruption

In 1999, Vice President Gore hosted the first global forum to fight corruption among government officials responsible to uphold the rule of law. Ninety countries participated in the Global Forum on Fighting Corruption: Safeguarding Integrity Among Justice and Security Officials. They agreed on a declaration that calls on governments to adopt effective anti-corruption measures and to assist each other in these efforts through mutual evaluation and other means. The Netherlands will host a follow-up forum in May 2001 and expects over 130 countries to participate.

International Engagement

The United States has significantly increased its engagement abroad to promote closer international cooperation and greater overall effectiveness in combating transnational crime. Leading examples include: creation of the Lyon Group of Experts on International Crime within the G-8 framework; negotiation of additional mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties; posting of an increasing number of new law enforcement officials overseas; establishment of the International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs) to conduct training on a regional basis; and formation of bilateral mechanisms to promote closer law enforcement cooperation with key countries, including China, Mexico, Russia and South Africa.

International Crime Threat Assessment

The Clinton Administration today released a comprehensive International Crime Threat Assessment addressing all aspects of this threat to the United States. President Clinton directed preparation of the assessment as part of the International Crime Control Strategy approved in May 1998. The new assessment is a major step forward in achieving a better understanding of the global dimensions of international crime and the various ways in which it threatens U.S. interests.

International Crime Control Act

Another initiative undertaken pursuant to the President’s International Crime Control Strategy was the development of the proposed International Crime Control Act. This comprehensive proposed legislation, which was introduced in Congress in 1998, would close key gaps in current federal law, criminalize additional types of harmful activities, and promote a strengthening of both domestic and foreign criminal justice systems to respond to the new challenges posed by crime that crosses international boundaries. The bill would substantially improve the ability of U.S. law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute international criminals, to seize their money and assets, to stop them from crossing our borders, and to prevent them from threatening Americans and our institutions.

UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime

Earlier this week in Palermo, Italy, the United States, together with many other nations, signed the first multilateral treaty specifically targeting international organized crime. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, together with two supplementary Protocols addressing trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, was previously approved by the United Nations General Assembly on November 15, 2000.

Over the past several years, the United States played a leading role in negotiating the Convention and Protocols with over 120 countries in Vienna, Austria. The purpose of the Convention is to prevent and combat international organized crime more effectively by requiring parties to criminalize certain conduct and providing for enhanced cooperative mechanisms.

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