U.S. Statement to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Luis E. Arreaga Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

U.S. Statement

Luis E. Arreaga

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Vienna, Austria
May 22, 2017

Thank you very much. On behalf of my delegation, I would like to thank the Bureau, Executive Director Fedotov, and UNODC for organizing this 26th session of the CCPCJ.

Ambassador Nincic, a pleasure to see you in the chair today.

Transnational crime is one of the gravest threats to public safety in the United States.

In fact, our President issued a new Executive Order in February directing our government to intensify our efforts to combat transnational organized crime.  This includes improving cooperation between U.S. government agencies to identify deficiencies in U.S. laws, improve data collection, support police, and consult with local authorities and victims’ groups.

We are also providing assistance to criminal justice authorities in over 90 countries, including as a donor to UNODC and 17 other organizations.

As one example of these partnerships, we hosted a side event just a few moments ago featuring law enforcement officials from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.  This event underlined our work to reduce violence, poverty, and factors that drive recruitment into criminal gangs, such as MS-13.

While crime rates in the United States remain low, gangs pose a serious threat.  MS-13 now has over 10,000 members in at least 40 states in the United States.  This spring, U.S. authorities arrested nearly 1,400 gang members and associates in the United States during a six-week operation.  These individuals are from 21 countries spanning four continents.  They are accused of murder, rape, and transnational organized crimes like migrant smuggling and trafficking in drugs, firearms, and human beings.

The Crime Commission has the lead responsibility in the UN for helping prevent and respond to crime.

But in an era of limited resources, we must focus on the most urgent challenges facing law enforcement today.  We have an obligation to articulate how this forum benefits our experts who investigate gangs, prosecute cybercriminals, or counter radicalization.

What makes Vienna unique – unlike many other UN bodies, is that we directly support the institutions that safeguard our citizens, and we have several opportunities this week to do so.  For instance:

— We look forward to adopting a resolution to continue the work of the Expert Group on Cybercrime.  We need to focus on operational challenges that cybercrime poses and help police and prosecutors address them.

— We will also adopt a resolution on counterterrorism.  In this regard, UNODC provides essential training to criminal justice authorities.  We should ensure its mandate accurately reflects the work we do to share information; improve cooperation; and manage violent extremist offenders.

— Finally, we must ensure that substantive anti-crime matters remain at the heart of our long-term work.  We support an agenda for the 2020 Crime Congress that responds to today’s crime, security, and rule of law challenges, in keeping with its core mandate.

As we move forward, we remember that today’s criminals, evidence, and stolen assets are often located outside our borders – meaning that our police and prosecutors must work together to keep citizens safe.

At a time when many question the value of multilateral engagement, organized crime and terrorism pose threats that can only be answered through multilateral cooperation.

The Commission must answer this call over the coming week.  My delegation looks forward to supporting you, and I wish everyone a fruitful deliberation.

Thank you very much