Sessions, Rosenstein target cartels, gangs with new Justice Dept. task force

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Official portrait.

Oct. 15 (UPI) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said the Department of Justice will create a new task force whose function is to fight criminal organizations around the world.

Speaking at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., Sessions singled out groups — including MS-13, Clan del Golfo, Hezbollah, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Cartel — as targets of the new task force.

MS-13 is a cartel operating out of Central America that President Donald Trump has repeatedly singled out for their violent activities.

“We have hammered the vicious MS-13, which is based in El Salvador,” Sessions said in his speech. “With more than 10,000 members in the United States, this gang is the most violent gang in America today.

Sessions said the task force will include federal prosecutors from the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, ATF, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security, IRS, Department of Labor, U.S. Postal Service, Secret Service, the Marshals Service and the Coast Guard.

The coalition will be led by Adam Cohen, chief of the Office of Enforcement Operations in the Justice Department’s criminal division.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also spoke at the event Monday and called transnational criminal organizations “a scourge.”

“They sow violence and sell poisonous drugs,” he said. “They bribe public officials and fuel corruption. They terrorize law-abiding citizens. And they are increasingly smart about how they commit their crimes. They use the financial system and modern technology — cell phones, social media, encryption, and other tools — in support of their illicit activities.”

Rosenstein called the new project the “beginning of a multi-front campaign” against drug cartels and other criminal organizations that cross national borders. It will have five subcommittees, one for each identified target organization, and will be run by designated prosecutors from across the country.

In introducing Sessions, Rosenstein, whose job security at the Justice Department has been the subject of speculation recently, called him “a public servant of the highest order.”

“He is here to deliver on President [Donald] Trump’s commitment to make America safe.”

Trump has been critical of Sessions since his recusal from the department’s Russia investigation of potential interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump has suggested he is dissatisfied with Sessions’ work on border security and other issues.


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