The Justice Department will seek to merge the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit and the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section in an effort to “ramp up” the department’s prosecutions of international organized crime groups, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said Monday.
The new Organized Crime and Gang Section will be headed by Bruce Ohr, the current chief of organized crime. Kevin Carwile, the former head of the Gang Unit, will lead the Capital Case Unit, formerly headed by Margaret Griffey. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Doug Crow will serve as the Principal Deputy for Policy and Operations, and Jim Trusty, the current acting Chief in the Gang Unit, will serve as Principal Deputy for Litigation in the new section.
The new unit will have about 36 attorneys, Breuer said.
“It seemed that if we had a larger group of prosecutors who had been very successful not just in organized crime prosecutions but in gang cases that that would give us, with our limited resources, more of an ability, and more of a flexibility to move lawyers depending on the moment,” Breuer said in a briefing with reporters Monday. “They can share strategies, there can be some efficiencies in scale. And I wouldn’t have done this if I thought for one moment it was going to take away from the mission. It’s going to enhance both.”
The changes “will allow us to use our resources much more efficiently and effectively to combat gangs and other organized crime groups,” Breuer added.
The Gang Unit was established as a standalone section in 2007 to target major local, national and international gangs. Its emphasis has been on violent street gangs involved in narcotics and weapons trafficking.
The Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, by contrast, is best known for dismantling the Mafia in the U.S. and has more recently focused on sophisticated international criminal networks involved with financial and cybercrimes.
The merger has the support of Attorney General Eric Holder, members of Congress, and the White House, Breuer said, and the section will begin to operate as a merged unit pending official approval.
The National Gang Targeting, Enforcement and Coordination Center, known as GangTECC, also will be merged into the new section, Breuer said. The DOJ will make changes to improve the way GangTECC shares information about open gang cases with federal agents across the country. A November Inspector General’s report (PDF) found the National Gang Intelligence Center and GangTECC had not made a significant impact on the department’s anti-gang activities.
Changes to the way information is shared “will greatly enhance GangTECC’s ability to identify connections between gang cases being investigated in different parts of the country; to help make sure evidence is shared to benefit all of those cases; and to coordinate takedowns of those cases where appropriate for maximum impact,” Breuer said.
Breuer said in an interview with Main Justice in February that the Justice Department was taking a “hard look” at division resources.
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Additional reporting by Joe Palazzolo.