The Obama administration announced several new plans including executive orders, legislative proposals, and intelligence initiatives as part of its Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime. As a part of the strategy, groups designated as transnational organized crime (TOC) groups face sanctions, including blocking of their financial transactions, starting today, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said at the briefing. He named Los Zetas, Yakuza, Brother’s Circle, and Camorra as initial targets of the sanctions.
Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns referenced Hezbollah's illegal activities in Latin America as evidence that this policy can help fight terrorist organizations. He said that terrorists are increasingly turning to "relationships of convenience" and linking up with organized crime groups. Twenty-nine of the 63 top drug trafficking organizations identified by the Department of Justice had links to terrorist organizations, according to a White House Fact sheet.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said the strategy brings new tools to the table in combating the cartels in the Southwest, which have been a growing problem. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized 75 percent more currency, 31 percent more drugs, and 64 percent more weapons compared to the last two years of operations, she said. “This is important progress, and we want to continue to build on it,” she said.
The groups named today seem to be the largest and best organized, said Cohen.
The Brothers’ Circle, also known as the Moscow Center, is a multi-ethnic criminal group composed of leaders criminal organizations largely based in countries of the former Soviet Union. Many Brothers’ Circle members share a common ideology based on the “thief-in-law” tradition, which seeks to spread their brand of criminal influence around the world.