Good morning. It’s great to be back in New Orleans. I want to thank the
members of the IACP for hosting this conference, and, in particular, I want to
thank Chief Joe Carter for his service as president this past year.
This morning, I want to spend a few moments talking about
terrorism, but I also want to focus on violent crime, because
the context in which we are operating has changed. We are
realizing that national security is as much about reducing
the number of homicides on our streets as it is about reducing
the threat of terrorism.
Today, in pockets around the country, we are seeing the
first steady increase in street-level crime since 1993. As
a result, we must view criminal threats differently than
we did in the immediate aftermath of September 11.
Time has passed, and, through our collective efforts, we
have so far succeeded in preventing another terrorist attack
here at home. But in the public eye, the pendulum has shifted,
from the potential of terrorism to the reality of guns and
gang activity. Consequently, terrorism cannot always be on
the front burner for many of you, and that is understandable.
Yet time has not diminished the threats we face, nor should
it lull us into a false sense of security. Al Qaeda is regrouping
in Pakistan and North Africa, with new leaders, new recruits,
and new plans for destruction. Unknown extremists from visa-waiver
countries may cross our borders with great ease and little
notice. And homegrown terrorists with no connection to al
Qaeda will continue to plan attacks the world over.
For these reasons, terrorism will remain our top priority
in the FBI. But it is by no means our only priority. We recognize
that we need your eyes and ears to prevent terrorist attacks,
and we can provide help on the criminal side.
I know that our reallocation of resources has impacted
your work. Some of you may have less daily contact with FBI
agents on drug cases, bank robberies, and smaller white collar
criminal cases. You may have asked of us at one time or another, “Where
Let me assure you: We are with you. Our emphasis has changed,
but we still understand the impact of violent crime. However,
with limited resources, we must focus on those areas where
we bring something unique to the table.
Since 2001, our gang cases have doubled. And we have stood
up Safe Streets Task Forces in more mid-size cities—those
most affected by the increase in violent crime and gang activity.
In recent years, I have talked a great deal about the importance
of partnerships. Today is no exception. Yet the word “partnership” implies
that we have simply combined our resources and our expertise.
The end result is far greater than that.
Take gang violence, for example. When you face a rash of
homicides or armed robberies, you must act quickly. You may
not be able to devote the time or the resources to initiate
a long-term investigation to disrupt that gang. But we can.
Our joint efforts provide a balance between an immediate
response and a long-term solution. Together, we can cut off
the criminals from the street level up. And we can use intelligence,
undercover work, and surveillance techniques to dismantle
the group from the top down.
While we do not work as many drug cases as we once did,
we are well aware of the connection between drugs and gangs.
And although gangs are highly competitive, they are willing
to work together when there is money to be made.
In Memphis, members of the Almighty Latin Kings, the Gangster
Disciples, and the Vice Lords joined forces with local drug
traffickers. The Latin Kings moved down from Chicago, opened
a tire shop as a front, and distributed drugs to neighborhood
street gangs like the Castelo Crew.
Together, the Memphis Police Department, the Shelby County
Sheriff’s Office, Drug Enforcement Agency, Immigration
and Customs Enforcement, and the FBI’s Safe Streets
Task Force dismantled this drug ring. To date, they have
arrested more than 40 individuals and seized $1.5 million
in cash, more than 3,500 pounds of marijuana, and 26 kilos
These criminals target new communities and new victims
every day. If we are to be successful, we must present a
united front. And when the lines between criminals and their
activities begin to blur, we must be ready to respond, together.
In Aurora, Illinois, a five-year investigation of the Latin
Kings led to the convictions of 58 gang members on drug-related
charges—a strong result in and of itself.
However, during the investigation, witnesses testified
to other crimes, including many unsolved murders dating back
to the 1980s. The FBI and the Aurora Police Department formed
a Cold Case Homicide Initiative.
In June, they arrested 31 members of the Latin Kings on
179 counts of first degree murder in 22 separate cases. The
murder rate has dropped from a peak of 28 in 2002, when the
investigation began, to just four in 2006.
Although our primary focus is on long-term takedowns, we
stand ready to serve in times of crisis, whether it be a
child abduction or a rash of violent crimes.
When three teenagers were executed in cold blood on a Newark
basketball court, we reached out to help. Together with the
United States Marshals, our state and local partners in New
Jersey and Virginia, and the Northern Virginia Regional Gang
Task Force, we developed source information that led to the
swift arrest of one of the suspects in the Washington, D.C.,
Here in New Orleans, the murder rate jumped 182 percent
in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Last February, FBI agents
began working with Chief Warren Riley and the New Orleans
Police Department, targeting the most dangerous criminals
for federal prosecution.
Agents have assisted the Homicide Unit in nearly every
murder investigation since then, processing evidence, working
crime scenes, and locating witnesses across the country.
The homicide clearance rate has more than doubled, in part
due to our collaboration.
We are also working with the New Orleans Police Department
to encourage residents to contact law enforcement with violent
crime information. When this community outreach program started,
we received roughly one tip every two weeks. Today, we receive
six to eight tips every day.
I want to turn to organized crime for a moment. Public
perception of organized crime may be largely based on “The
Sopranos,” but the reality is far different. While
La Cosa Nostra still poses a threat, criminals from Asia,
Armenia, Albania, and Russia have become major players here
These groups run drugs, launder money, and threaten witnesses.
But, like other multinational corporations, they are diversifying,
from human trafficking to health care fraud.
In Glendale, California, Armenian organized crime has established
a presence. The unsolved murder rate is high; incidents of
fraud, bribery, and witness intimidation run rampant. Many
residents are scared silent, and our state and local counterparts
are not adequately staffed to address the problem.
We are working with Los Angeles and Glendale police and
sheriffs’ deputies on the Armenian Organized Crime
Task Force. Together, we are fighting street-level crime,
while at the same time collecting the intelligence necessary
to dismantle entire organizations. We have similar task forces
in New York, Chicago, Denver, and Detroit.
But our work is not limited to the United States. Cell
phones, cyber space, and jet travel have blurred borders
and boundaries. We must cut crime off at the source, before
it arrives on our shores. This, by definition, requires a
Our Legal Attachés are working with their international
partners in Armenia to identify individuals traveling to
and from the United States. They are sharing this information
with the Glendale task force, amongst others.
In addition, FBI agents are embedded with police departments
in Italy and Hungary. Together, they are tracking fugitives
and investigating criminal syndicates—identifying key
players, who they are talking to, and what they are planning.
This cooperation is key to our violent crime investigations.
One case illustrates the point. In September 2005, a Glendale
resident named Artur Khanzadyan killed his girlfriend and
left her body in the trunk of his car. By the time police
discovered the body, he had already fled to Armenia. Our
Legal Attaché in Tbilisi notified the Armenian authorities,
who then arrested him.
The Armenian courts refused to compel his return to the
United States, but the Armenian Prosecutor General charged
him with murder. Through our Legal Attaché, the Glendale
Police Department provided their files to the Armenian authorities.
Two detectives from Glendale testified at the trial. In August
2006, Khanzadyan was convicted and sent to a long term in
prison. Without our close cooperation, this man would have
These are not isolated examples. They represent the work
we are doing together across the country and around the world
every day. But we know we must do more—more task forces,
both domestic and international; more joint investigations,
both domestic and international; and better technology.
Those of us who count ourselves old enough to earn the
designation “baby boomer”—and I am one
of them—remember the rise in violent crime during the
1970s and ‘80s. There was no quick fix then, and there
is no quick fix now. Today, we face the added threat of terrorism
and the increased strain on our resources and our personnel.
I have testified before Congress my firm conviction that
you in this room represent the first line of defense against
crime and terrorism. And the country needs to provide the
resources you need, particularly for those of you serving
on federal, state, and local task forces.
We all face financial shortfalls and limited resources.
Criminals and terrorists will not change professions, and
technology will not turn back.
Being here in New Orleans brings two things to mind: good
food and great music. Walk down any street in the French
Quarter, and you will find fantastic Creole fare and some
of the best jazz in the world. Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong,
Kermit Ruffins—all earned their stripes here in the
Any jazz musician will tell you that the whole of the music
is greater than that played by any one instrument. In any
piece, at any given time, one instrument may take the lead,
but not for long.
The same is true for all of us. The whole of what we are
doing together far surpasses what each of us brings to the
table. At any given time, one of us may take the lead, and
one of us may be the backbone of the investigation, but we
are in it together. Like the best jazz, our best work is
In recent years, our responsibilities have grown greater,
and the consequences more grave. We have been asked repeatedly
to do more with less, and we have all done just that. We
must continue to do more. Criminal and terrorist threats
demand it, and the American people deserve it.
Thank you for what you do day in and day out. Thank you
for what you do to protect the American people, and to keep
our streets safe. Thank you, and God bless.
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