President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order today declaring the threat of transnational organised crime networks a national emergency.The executive order freezes U.S. property and assets owned by four major international criminal organisations — including Mexico’s powerful Los Zetas criminal network — and anyone who conspires with them.
A related presidential proclamation gives U.S. Immigration authorities more authority to keep suspected organised crime members out of the United States.
The other groups targeted are the Brother’s Circle, an organised crime network that operates in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America; the Camorra, an Italian crime group that specialises in counterfeit goods; and the Yakuza, a Japanese organisation whose profits primarily come from methamphetamine and human trafficking.
From Obama’s letter to Congress announcing the Executive Order:
“Significant transnational criminal organisations have become increasingly sophisticated and dangerous to the United States, and their activities have reached such scope and gravity that they destabilize the international system. These groups have taken advantage of globalization and other factors to diversify their geographic scope and range of activities. They have increased and deepened their ties to governments and the international financial system, relying not only on bribery and violence, but also more and more on the ability to exploit differences among countries and to create and maintain legal facades to hide illicit activities.”
The administration also notes that transnational criminal organisations are increasingly working with terrorists. (We recently illustrated ties between Mexico’s drug trafficking networks and Hezbollah militants.) In 2010, 29 of the top 63 drug traffickers had ties to terror groups, according to U.S. Department of Justice data.
Today’s executive order is part of a broader national security strategy to combat international organised crime groups, which the White House unveiled this morning. We will post highlights from the new initiative this afternoon.
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