WASHINGTON (CN) – Four international criminal organizations might face liquidity problems after President Obama ordered their assets frozen as part of a new policy, and the Justice Department is expected to ask Congress to expand the surveillance powers of police and intelligence agencies along the way.
The National Security Council announced a new strategy to fight criminal cartels this week, in cooperation with the Departments of Treasury and Justice.
Russia’s Brothers’ Circle, Italy’s Camorra, Japan’s Yakuza and Mexico’s Zetas are the immediate targets of the president’s order. But the Secretary of the Treasure can extend the sanctions to anyone found to be supporting those groups and to any other organized criminal networks.
The National Security Council says its Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime “applies all elements of national power to protect citizens and U.S. national security interests from the convergence of 21st century transnational criminal threats.”
The sweeping proclamation the president signed allows barring entry to anyone the United States claims is a member of one of the cartels, or has been targeted for financial sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, or is subject to a United Nations Security Council travel ban.
The list will include extortionists, slave traffickers and drug runners of the four targeted criminal organizations, and political pariahs such Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and former Liberian President Charles Taylor.
The nexus between criminals, terrorists and violent political movements is at the heart of the new strategy. The National Intelligence Council, which recently concluded a yearlong review of threats to national security from criminal organizations, said that terrorist groups are increasingly turning to criminal networks to help fund and arm themselves.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that one of the centerpieces of the new strategy would be a series of legislative proposals designed “to enhance the tools that our nation’s Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners at every level can bring to bear in the fight against transnational organized crime,” including updates that would “extend the reach of anti-money laundering provisions.”
Holder indicated that Congress would be asked to expand surveillance capabilities of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to “enhance our ability to identify and respond to the most common, and often evolving, tactics and methods of communication that criminal organizations use to conceal their illicit operations and profits.”