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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Issues Comprehensive Report on Transnational Organized Crime in California

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Contact: (415) 703-5837

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued the first comprehensive report analyzing the current state of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) in California and the threats they pose to the state’s public safety and economy. The report also sets forth recommendations to combat the increasingly complex issue of transnational organized crime in California.

“The growth of transnational criminal organizations seriously threatens California’s safety and economic well-being,” Attorney General Harris said. “State and local law enforcement officers are on the front lines of this fight every day. Our response must include sustained funding for their work and strong coordination at all levels of government.”

This new report, Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime, addresses the three emerging pillars of transnational criminal activity: the trafficking of drugs, weapons and human beings; money laundering; and high-tech crimes, such as digital piracy, hacking and fraud.

The report highlights the work of law enforcement to date in combatting transnational crime and details major strides that have already been made to stop this violent, insidious threat. It analyzes how transnational criminal organizations are innovating, and outlines recommendations to adapt to new challenges, including stricter laws targeting TCO leaders, sustained funding for law enforcement, and strong collaboration between federal, state, local and international governments.

The report is a result of extensive research and consultation with federal, state, and local law enforcement, non-governmental organizations and academia.

The full report can be viewed here: https://oag.ca.gov/transnational-organized-crime

Highlights from Gangs Beyond Borders:

  • Mexico-based transnational criminal organizations traffic 70% of imported methamphetamine through the San Diego port of entry alone. California is the primary source of methamphetamine nationwide.
  • The Sinaloa Cartel is the most dominant Mexico-based drug trafficking organization operating in California and is responsible for trafficking most of the Mexico-produced marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine through Tijuana into California.
  • Transnational criminal organizations are using new technologies like social media to facilitate criminal activity, recruitment, intimidation and harassment.
  • Breaches of computer networks by TCOs have increased since 2009 and many originate from organizations based in China, Russia, Romania, and Nigeria, among other countries.
  • Last year, California state drug task forces disrupted 140 drug, money laundering and gang organizations, arrested nearly 3,000 individuals, rescued 41 endangered children, confiscated 1,000 weapons and seized nearly $28.5 million in anti-narcotic law enforcement actions.

The comprehensive report presents the following recommendations:

  • The California legislature should amend state law to target the leaders of transnational criminal organizations operating in California.
  • Federal, state, and local law enforcement should use California’s State Threat Assessment System as a central hub for sharing information about transnational crime.
  • Federal, state, and local authorities should establish a unified maritime task force and associated radar network to counter maritime smuggling operations along California’s coastline.
  • The Legislature and Governor should fund five additional Special Operations Units across California.
  • Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies should increase operational coordination in combatting transnational criminal organizations
  • State and local authorities should develop public-private partnerships to leverage technology against transnational crime.
  • Businesses should adopt industry best practices designed to protect against cybercrime.
  • The Legislature should amend California law to enable prosecutors to temporarily freeze the assets of transnational criminal organizations and their gang associates before the filing of an indictment.
  • The Legislature should strengthen California’s prohibition against financial transaction “structuring.”
  • California prosecutors need advanced training to combat sophisticated money laundering schemes.
  • State authorities should partner with their Mexican counterparts to share intelligence and disrupt the illicit flow of money across the border.

Next week, Attorney General Harris will lead a delegation of state attorneys general to Mexico to strengthen working relationships between the governments of both countries and enhance efforts to combat transnational crime. The delegation will meet with Mexican state attorneys general and federal officials to discuss the issues of drug, human and firearms trafficking, money laundering and high-tech crime.

The Attorneys General will travel to Mexico City from March 24 through the 26. The delegation includes California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and New Mexico Attorney General Gary King.

In 2012, Attorney General Harris released a report, The State of Human Trafficking in California, which outlined the growing prevalence of the crime of human trafficking in the state, the increasing involvement of sophisticated transnational gangs in perpetrating the crime and the modern technologies that traffickers use to facilitate it. (link http://www.oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking/2012 )

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