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Net-centric Partnerships for Leveraging and Synchronizing Full Spectrum Capabilities To Dismantle Converging Transnational Criminal Threats and Networks

OT-1024E | Date: 9/30/2010

David M. Luna
Director for Anticrime Programs
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Keynote Address at the Customs Border Enforcement Workshop
Taipei, Taiwan
September 23, 2010

Good Morning.

I would like to thank Taiwan Customs and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for their kind invitation to participate at this regional workshop and for their leadership in jointly hosting this event.

I would also like to applaud Taiwan Customs' commitment to work with other jurisdictions to strengthen international cooperation across the Pacific on these important law enforcement issues. Let me also take this opportunity to personally commend the efforts by Tatum King, ICE Attache, DHS, who I believe is doing some of the more important work in combating today's cross-border threats and developing innovative capacities and training to support our committed partners.

Finance Minister Lee Sush-Der, AIT Deputy Director Eric H. Madison, Director General Wu Ai-Kou, Taiwan Customs, and Deputy Director General Jao Ping, Taiwan Customs, Deputy Director Liu Stella, Taiwan Customs, Mr. King, distinguished colleagues, your participation this week at this workshop advances the growing collaborative efforts of our respective governments to decisively take action to disrupt and dismantle many of today's converging transnational threats and networks and to develop innovative partnerships to more effectively protect our borders and homeland.

I have just come from APEC meetings in Sendai, Japan, where we discussed ways to strengthen regional cooperation to combat transnational threats such as corruption and illicit trade, an area that we hope President Barack Obama further elevates next year as the United States hosts the APEC Leaders' Summit.

As evidenced in Sendai, and here this week, regionally and globally, more partners in both public and private sectors recognize the increasing harm caused by enterprising criminals. These criminal actors and networks continue to corrupt and destabilize both political and criminal justice institutions, and impede our mutually-shared agenda - one that centers on fostering greater prosperity and security.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has noted on numerous occasions: no economy alone can solve today's complex challenges. It requires creative partnerships and joint responsibility based on common interests, shared values, and mutual respect. The fight against transnational crime and corruption is one of these challenges.

Threat Convergence: Destabilizing Threats to Our Common Security

And we can understand why. Transnational criminal organizations and third generation gangs, for example, threaten our joint interests by forging alliances with corrupt government officials, undermining competition in key global markets, diversifying their illicit enterprises into legitimate commerce, and unraveling the social fabric of all economies.

Criminal entrepreneurs who smuggle billions of dollars of illegal goods across borders - drugs, arms, humans, natural resources and endangered wildlife parts, counterfeit medicines and pirated software, as well as embezzled public funds - create insecurity, cost our economies jobs and tax revenue, endanger the welfare and safety of our families and communities, and overwhelm law enforcement counter-measures.

These criminal networks are also becoming more fluid and sophisticated. They exploit not only the openness of our economies but areas where law enforcement is weak as places for safe haven and to expand their illicit operations. Moreover, today's technologies allow the borderless nature of cyber criminals to cooperate globally and in real time.

Smart Power: Fighting Networks with Networks

So one of the ways to get ahead of these determined and well-resourced adversaries, is for us to coordinate and cooperate better and build our own law enforcement networks.

At the U.S. Department of State, we are working across the U.S. law enforcement and interagency community to develop more vibrant partnerships and collaborative platforms to combat today's transnational threat networks. For example, my colleagues and I at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) help lead diplomatic efforts to raise awareness of the destabilizing impact of transnational organized crime and illicit activities, and help to strengthen global efforts to plug criminal nodes of opportunity including where organized crime and terrorism intersect.

We are enhancing international cooperation to dismantle criminal networks and combat the threats that they pose -- not only through more holistic law enforcement efforts and full spectrum responses, but also by building up governance capacity, supporting committed reformers, and strengthening the ability of citizens to monitor public functions and hold leaders accountable for providing safety, effective public services, and efficient use of public resources.

We are also developing more dynamic inter-regional partnerships that strengthen cross-border cooperation. For example, in November 2009 in Honolulu, we sponsored, with ICE, the Trans-Pacific Symposium on Dismantling Transnational Illicit Networks. The event brought together participants from approximately 25 economies from Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands, as well as senior representatives from international organizations such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Asia Pacific Group on Money-Laundering (APG), INTERPOL, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The United States was represented by senior officials from the Departments of Justice, Treasury, Homeland Security, State, Defense, and their law enforcement components including and the Joint Interagency Task Force-West, US Pacific Command.

Among the recommendations that emanated from the trans-Pacific symposium included many ideas on ways to better equip ourselves against illicit threats across the region. These include devising more strategic frameworks and information-sharing arrangements, leveraging international cooperation across regional and global law enforcement networks, strengthening capacity building in law enforcement, coordinating joint investigations to target "money conduits" and corruption nodes, and securing borders by optimizing border controls.

Almost one year later, this workshop reinforces the aims of that successful symposium. In the next two days, we will explore a variety of topics including cybercrime, trade security, combating narcotics and pre-cursor chemical smuggling, protecting intellectual property rights, investigating money laundering crimes, and ways to plug vulnerabilities in the illicit circle of opportunity that may also make it possible for criminals to deal in sensitive commodities or weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and related critical technologies.

Multilaterally, and bilaterally, the United States will continue working with committed international partners to combat the growing wave of crime and other illicit threats and to employ our diplomatic tools and technical assistance to support our committed partners to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal networks including highlighting some of these transnational threats in the coming months at the APEC and G20 Leaders' Summits in Japan and Korea respectively and at the 14th International Anticorruption Conference (14th IACC) in Thailand. We also applaud the Government of New Zealand for partnering with the United States on the follow-up to the trans-Pacific symposium and hosting the workshop on "Interagency Cooperation on Combating Transnational Illicit Networks" in Christchurch, New Zealand, on November 17-18, 2010.

Leveraging International Cooperation Frameworks

Within the past decade, our jurisdictions, working together, have also succeeded in globalizing the fight against transnational organized crime, as well as the fight against corruption The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols, which for the first time require criminalization of a broad range of activities by crime groups, and the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which requires the criminalization of bribery and other corrupt conduct and the taking of preventive measures, also establish a broad, near global framework for intergovernmental legal cooperation.

These instruments have already been used numerous times by governments to enable and facilitate extraditions and mutual legal assistance to reduce the advantage to organized crime gains by operating across borders. Our region should lead the way in their ratifications, accessions, and enforcement. By fully implementing both the UNTOC and the UNCAC, jurisdictions will demonstrate that they are committed to staying ahead of the criminals by utilizing the incredible breadth of these Conventions, and to help strengthen and facilitate international cooperation on extradition, mutual legal assistance, transfer of sentenced persons, joint investigations and special investigative techniques.

Corruption must also be tackled head on if our governance and economic strategies are to succeed. Criminal entrepreneurs use corruption to launder embezzled public funds, smuggle billions of dollars of illegal goods, and obtain safe haven and protection for themselves and their enterprises. This overwhelms and corrupts law enforcement institutions and fuels insecurity throughout our communities. Corruption spawned by transnational crime groups has expanded at the highest levels of some governments and infiltrated law enforcement structures, compromising further our collective security interests.

Following the money must be an integral part of our strategies in dealing with illicit networks to deny criminals and their networks access to entities and mechanisms used to launder their illicit criminal proceeds and hide the instrumentalities. Depriving the networks of their profit and funding is one of the most effective ways to deter them. This requires a holistic, comprehensive anti-money laundering regime including the ability to trace, freeze, and seize assets related to illicit financial flows, while addressing both formal and informal financial networks.

Another growing threat is the rise of harmful counterfeits throughout Asia Pacific. Transnational criminal groups are flooding the world market with counterfeit (and sometimes deadly) goods. We need to synchronize our efforts to more effectively stem the illicit trade and crackdown on supporting illicit facilitators related to counterfeits, fake medicines and pharmaceuticals that endanger the health of our citizens.

At a June 2010 workshop in Taipei, Taiwan Customs, ICE, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and private industry, provide shared experiences to Taiwan Customs Officers, Coast Guard, Criminal Investigation Bureau, Ministry of Justice, Department of Health, and others, to address the detection and investigation of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. In part due to this training, there have been significant seizures made by Taiwan Customs, which reflects their focus and determination in fighting counterfeit pharmaceuticals which threaten our public safety.

We also now detect the common links between wildlife trade, drug trafficking and human trafficking, which reveals a nexus of crime. Environmental crimes such as, for example, illegal dumping of hazardous waste and materials, illegal fishing, illegal trade in wildlife, and illegal logging are also among the fastest illicit areas of international criminal activity and rank among the most lucrative types of black market commerce.

We must strengthen our domestic laws to better deny criminals, their associates, and family members, safe haven and access to their illicit assets, including use of visa authority to deny visas for entry into our jurisdictions. We must prevent them from enjoying the fruits of their illicit profits including owning real or other property, businesses, or making investments in the U.S, by utilizing the UNTOC and UNCAC cooperative frameworks. We too must disrupt their logistics (routes, transportation means, communication systems), supply chains, and army of professionals - money launderers, lawyers, accountants, and others who help move money and bribe and corrupt public officials.

The accelerating spread of information and communication technologies (ICT) and networked systems provides perhaps the greatest challenge to law enforcement. Criminal organizations use the Internet not only to commit crimes like fraud and identity theft, they utilize technology to recruit and communicate to the extent that criminal networks now operate globally in real time, allowing illegal enterprises unprecedented access to a global audience-including public officials. With that said, it is imperative that we surpass their level of sophistication, utilizing the available resources to foster a coordinated, multi-national response, including fostering a close partnership with the private sector to deny criminals their communications.

Strengthening Partnerships and Networks Across the Pacific

We must be clear-eyed to confront our common challenges that will be discussed over the next two days. Not only should we remain vigilant to our cause, but we must also think creatively in examining the inter-related threats and linkages. As our capability to disrupt the illicit networks strengthens, we undoubtedly see the criminals adapting their practices to avoid detection. It's imperative that we look at these threats through a holistic lens in order to develop panoramic approaches.

The problem is too large for any one of our governments. Rather it will require that we and other governments work together closely at the bilateral, sub-regional, regional and global level. This net-centric approach will prove advantageous as our information sharing will allow us to coordinate out efforts more efficiently.

I also believe that we must do more to promote public-private partnerships on our strategies to combat transnational crime and corruption. The reason for this should be obvious; the overwhelming majority of our industries and businesses are privately owned. Far more often than not, it is our private sector that first encounters intrusions, theft, extortion or other forms of crime from organized networks. Over 90 percent of the world's information technology infrastructure, in fact, rests in private hands. These private sector actors are our first responders in dealing with transnational organized crime. They have more far more timely information at their disposal than law enforcement on how organized crime is attempting to hijack the global economy.

Governments can also play a role in encouraging industry groups to develop and share best practices and standards for preventing organized criminal infiltration of their industries. This is a growing problem around the world; certain key industries are increasingly facing unfair competition from organized crime networks seeking to burrow their way into the legitimate economy. We cannot allow organized crime to hijack the gains of globalization, and undermine the benefits of rule-based trading systems.

Governments must help businesses perform due-diligence in ensuring that criminally-influenced businesses are kept out of the global supply chain. Businesses must adopt internal security measures to make themselves harder targets for global crime. The growing infiltration of transnational crime into licit industry and commerce is a threat to the expansion of open markets and global trading regimes that underpin our modern global economy. Bringing the rule of law to the international flow of goods and services is essential in order to have a long-term impact against transnational crime.

Working Together to Stay Ahead: Net-Centric Partnerships and Panoramic Approaches

Together, the United States joins our partners across the Pacific, and globally, to take the fight directly to these threats, dismantle their networks, unravel the illicit financial nodes that sustain a web of criminality and corruption, develop strong law enforcement and security multi-disciplinary threat mitigation capabilities, and enhance our cooperation through public-private partnerships.

In closing, the United States is committed to working with your governments, and our international partners, to meet the illicit challenges across our respective economies. As President Barack Obama often emphasizes, the United States is keen to forge new partnerships based on shared responsibility.

The threats and challenges we face today across the Pacific are real and complex. Our greatest strength is to work together to stay ahead and trust each other. We must responsibly share this burden together and equally share the progress and successes.

We can cultivate collective action through a trans-Pacific network to advance our common interest to combat transnational criminal threats by leveraging information-sharing arrangements, increasing collaboration and synchronization - including supporting training workshops such as the ICE-Taiwan-Customs this week in Taipei - and strengthening neurally-connected capabilities. Working across borders to defeat a common threat and through coordinated law enforcement cooperation can better empower us to increase a shared awareness of the threat environment, protect our borders and homeland, and anchor a sustainable partnership vital for our prosperity and security.

Thank you.