Crime, Politics

Joint task force launched to combat Baltimore crime

BALTIMORE, MD – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, along with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, on Wednesday announced the Baltimore Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force, a new initiative designed to combat violent crime in Baltimore.

The mission of the Baltimore OCDETF Strike Force is to disrupt and dismantle the most violent gangs and drug trafficking organizations, and their financial infrastructure, in the Baltimore metropolitan area. While the “strike force” has been conducting investigations for more than a year now, the signing of the fiduciary agreement with the Baltimore County government will now allow all strike force investigators to work in one shared location, which is a key part of the OCDETF concept that has proven successful in other cities.

The Strike Force program was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Adam Cohen, Director of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces; Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski; Tom Carr, Executive Director of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA; Special Agent in Charge Jesse R. Fong of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Washington Field Division; Special Agent in Charge “Jimmy” Sung H. Yi of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Rob Cekada of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Special Agent in Charge John Eisert of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; U.S. Marshal Johnny Hughes; Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; State’s Attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn Mosby; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; Secretary Robert L. Green of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Baltimore City Sheriff John W. Anderson; Colonel Woodrow W. Jones, Chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police; Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare; and Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department.

“The Baltimore OCDETF Strike Force is a critical part of our strategy to make Baltimore safer by identifying and focusing on those groups responsible for the most violent crime in our city,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “The Strike Force model has worked elsewhere, and it will work here: By creating blended teams of investigators from more than a dozen local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and tasking them with building investigations of the city’s most violent gangs, we will reduce violent crime together. I’m grateful to all of the many partners who have made it possible for us to bring this model to Baltimore, including Baltimore County Executive Olszewski and the Baltimore County Council for their leadership and agreement to serve as the financial conduit for the federal funds supporting this effort.”

Baltimore and its surrounding communities suffer from criminal violence, much of it driven by gangs and violent drug-trafficking organizations. The Strike Force was born of the desire for federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in the Baltimore area to better coordinate and combine their resources and efforts to combat that violence. The mission of the Strike Force is to reduce violent, firearms-related, and drug-related crime in Baltimore by identifying criminal organizations and individuals most responsible for generating violence, sharing information about drug trafficking, illegal firearms, and violence, and pursuing the proceeds generated by drug trafficking organizations.

“Crime does not stop at the city/county line,” said County Ezecutive Olszewski. “We must do our part to work with the federal government and Baltimore City for a better, safer Baltimore region.”

Participating agencies have agreed to assign full-time personnel to the Strike Force, which is led by the Baltimore DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge and Deputy Chiefs from the FBI, the ATF, HSI, the Baltimore Police Department and the Maryland State Police, as well as prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore City. Police officers, agents, and both federal and state prosecutors will work together in open workspace. The physical and organizational structure will lead to collaborative, centralized intelligence sharing in real time. The efforts of the Strike Force will complement and be a force multiplier to the ongoing efforts of the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDTA) Program.

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