This module is a resource for lecturers  


Key issues


The traditional model followed by many jurisdictions throughout the world dictates that police investigate, and when they are finished, the case is turned over to the prosecutor's office or the investigative judge for adjudication. Investigative and prosecution priorities are usually agreed upon before the investigation begins. Police and prosecutors or investigative judges, depending on the legal system, consult with each other during the investigation about the types of evidence needed, use of informants and the use of special investigative techniques and authorizations needed for that purpose. Keys to success of these cases include regular communication as the case develops, and, in an ideal case, having the same personnel stay with the case from the investigation stage through all subsequent court proceedings, as appropriate. Developing a sense of ownership over a case from the start also breeds a greater sense of responsibility for the outcome from all parties involved.

The underlying theme of all prosecution efforts is to maximize the ability of the law to be enforced impartially and effectively. In relation to the prosecution of organized crime, there are three themes crucial to the prosecution:

  • Is there a strategy for the prosecution service on countering transnational organized crime?
  • What is the role of prosecutors in investigations?
  • Does the prosecutor have discretion over whether to pursue charges?

Many jurisdictions have developed enforcement and prosecution priorities and strategies based on an empirical assessment of the transnational organized crime situation in their jurisdiction (using threat assessments and other research). Different kinds of illicit products are trafficked and services exploited throughout the world, and corruption and extortion problems vary in nature and extent. Once investigative priorities are established, then a choice of prosecution tools will depend on the circumstances of the case.

Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS) of the United States Department of Justice

The United States Department of Justice's Criminal Division incorporates the Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS) that is a specialized group of prosecutors charged with developing and implementing strategies to disrupt and dismantle the most significant regional, national, and international gangs and organized crime groups.

The OCGS is guided by the Attorney General's Organized Crime Council (AGOCC), which is chaired by the Deputy Attorney General and includes senior representation from nine federal law enforcement agencies. The OCGS leads and coordinates the implementation of national priorities for the organized crime programme - some of which are set forth in the Law Enforcement Strategy to Combat Organized Crime. It also supervises and assists in the investigation and prosecution of organized crime cases in US Attorney's Offices across the country. These cases involve a broad spectrum of criminal statutes, including extortion, murder, bribery, fraud, money laundering, narcotics, and labour racketeering. The OCGS also reviews all proposed federal prosecutions under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute.

The sub-pages to this section provide a descriptive overview of the key issues that lecturers might want to cover with their students when teaching on this topic.


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