Organized trans-national groups have formed criminal enterprises to commit a variety of financial crimes. The crimes include financial schemes and scams including fencing operations, identity theft, organized retail crime, public aid fraud, cargo theft, money laundering, credit card and bank fraud. These groups victimize legitimate businesses each year for billions of dollars. The organized enterprises often operate in the form of semi-legitimate businesses that commit an ongoing and diverse series of these crimes. Each of these enterprises is connected to numerous other similar criminal enterprises that work together to facilitate these crimes. Many of these criminal enterprises finance and become a conduit for other criminal activity including violence, narcotics trafficking and other gang activity. In turn, they prevent legitimate, sustainable businesses from earning honest profits, creating jobs and growing their businesses. This activity has been documented to create increased violence and is a drain on police resources in the areas they operate, often in low income, at-risk neighborhoods and high crime areas. Further these groups have been tied to a network of criminal activity that expands around the Midwest and internationally. These groups have laundered millions of dollars abroad, some of which have gone to financing terrorist and international crime groups.
In 2010, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) created the Regional Organized Crime Task Force as a private/public partnership to battle these criminal enterprises. The private sector, often victimized by these crimes, has provided their expertise and support, while law enforcement has been able to apply their investigative skills and legal authority. The prosecutor’s office has guided these efforts. A secured website was created to share real-time intelligence on these groups to enhance the identification of offenders and the targeting of criminal enterprises. Over the last two years, the CCROC has managed thousands of alerts and hundreds of arrests. Over 1,000 CCROC members use this site representing over 140 Federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as over 100 private companies. Additionally, in 2012, as part of the CCROC initiative, the SAO drafted a new law passed in Illinois that allows higher class felony prosecution of some these cases and enhanced asset forfeiture. Through a multi-jurisdictional effort collaborating with the private sector and other law enforcement experts, the CCROC improves the investigation and prosecution of these cases and maximizes the recovery of seizures and forfeiture. In order to further this goal, the CCROC seeks to centralize intelligence and combine resources to battle these criminal enterprises.