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January 2, 2018

2017: Law and Order Advancement Under Trump

Dismantling organized crime, combating the opioid crisis, aiding local police and confronting human trafficking.

In his first year, President Donald Trump kept his promise to restore law and order in this country, dismantling organized crime, combating the opioid crisis, aiding local law enforcement and confronting human trafficking. His recent statement underscores his commitment: “I promised to restore law and order to our country, and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge. We will spare no resource so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear.”

The Trump administration continues to aggressively combat organized crime by addressing international criminal organizations, drug cartels and gangs. In February 2017, President Trump signed three executive orders (13773, 13774, and 13776) that confront international criminal organizations, drug cartels and gangs, while also enhancing public safety and preventing violence against law enforcement officials.

Additionally, Attorney General Jeff Sessions named MS-13 as a priority for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which gives federal law enforcement greater ability to pursue and dismantle this criminal organization. The U.S. also joined with the law enforcement of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to pursue and charge the 3,800 gang members of MS-13 and the 18th Street gang in both the U.S. and in Central America. Under Trump’s leadership, the Department of Justice (DOJ) successfully convicted eight members of the Rendon-Reyes Trafficking Organization on federal charges for human trafficking and forced prostitution.

The Trump administration has also prioritized the destructive opioid crisis as a policy objective. In October 2017, President Trump directed Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency. Under Attorney General Sessions, the Justice Department formed the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, a data-utilizing division that aids in the detection of opioid fraud. In addition, federal prosecutors have acted in the takedown of the largest health-care fraud case in the history of the DOJ. This case amounted to approximately $1.3 billion in false billings and charged 120 defendants (including doctors) for their participation in prescribing and distributing opioids and other narcotics. DOJ also seized and shut down Alpha Bay, the largest online “Dark Market” for the sale of illegal drugs. Additionally, Sessions deployed assistant U.S. attorneys to 12 areas across the country for three-year terms. Their aim will be to specifically investigate and prosecute health care fraud with prescription opioids.

The administration has also prioritized local law enforcement. DOJ allocated more than $98 million in grants through the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program, which allows for an increase of 802 full-time law enforcement officers. President Trump signed Executive Order 13809, restoring state and local law enforcement’s access to Department of Defense surplus equipment, including armored vehicles, though we have cautioned about that in the past. DOJ has also directed prosecutors to focus on removing illegal guns from America’s streets. In 2017, there was a 23% increase in criminals charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.

Sessions also established the new National Public Safety Partnership, a cooperative with local communities to reduce violence and crime, and expanded Project Safe Neighborhoods in which U.S. attorneys cooperate with local communities to create customized crime-reduction strategies.

The Trump administration continues to address the tragic human trafficking problem with both compassion and action. Just last week, President Trump proclaimed January 2018 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month stating, “An estimated 25 million people are currently victims of human trafficking for both sex and labor. … Traffickers unjustifiably profit from the labor and toil of their victims, who they force — through violence and intimidation — to work in brothels and factories, on farms and fishing vessels, in private homes and in countless industries. … My administration continues to work to drive out the darkness human traffickers cast upon our world. … Our nation is and will forever be a place that values and protects human life and dignity. This month let us redouble our efforts to endure that modern-day slavery comes to its long overdue end.”

As mentioned earlier, in February 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13773 to address transnational criminal organizations, which includes those involved in human trafficking. The State Department’s $25 million contribution to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery promotes international collaboration to combat human trafficking. The Labor Department’s mobile app, Comply Chain, helps businesses to identify and end forced labor in global supply-chains. Additionally, this month, President Trump will sign into law S. 1536, the Combatting Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act and S. 1532, the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act.

President Trump’s commitment to law and order in 2017 made remarkable gains by combating organized crime, addressing the opioid crisis, supporting law enforcement and acting to end human trafficking. Under his leadership, 2018 holds great opportunity for restoring safety, security, law and order to our neighborhoods and communities.

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