Organized Crime Task Force
The Cuyahoga County Organized Crime Task Force was formed by the Prosecutor in May 2013 to investigate and prosecute criminal enterprises. Like other task forces in Cuyahoga County law enforcement, this allows the prosecutor’s office to work in close coordination with other agencies to share resources and bring criminals to justice quickly, efficiently and effectively. The Office of the Ohio Attorney General provides funding to support the Cuyahoga County Organized Crime Task Force through the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission. The commission authorizes task forces to investigate organized criminal activity that crosses city, township, and county borders. Details of the investigation and the identities of authorities involved, as well as the identity of the person or group being investigated, are kept confidential until an arrest or indictment has been filed.
What is organized crime?
"Organized criminal activity" is any combination of activities, or conspiracy to engage in activities, that constitute "engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity." It is defined in the Ohio Revised Code, section 2923.32.
Any criminal activity that relates to the corruption of a public official, or of a public servant; Or any violation, combination of violations, or conspiracy to commit one or more violations of these sections of the Ohio Revised Code. Examples include:
-Breaking & entering
-Theft in Office
-Credit Card Fraud
-Receiving Stolen Property
The Organized Crime Task Force at the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office targets specific types of organized crime that most impact Cuyahoga County and the surrounding community.
What is the impact of organized crime in Cuyahoga County?
Often criminals will commit crimes separate from where they live, in multiple communities, to avoid being traced. This activity may stymie one police agency. However, a collaborative approach between municipalities sharing resources and intelligence often will lead to identifying the perpetrators through an analysis of their pattern of crimes, fingerprints or DNA left at the scene, or interrogation of suspects.
Left unchecked, this organizational crime, whether burglaries, theft, or fraudulent scams can go on for months or years.
Most people think of large-scale, national or international crime organizations such as the Mafia when they hear "organized crime." While large criminal organizations like this commit the same offenses as smaller enterprises, this task force and others like it seek to identify organized crime in its early stages, before the organization can grow to epidemic proportions.
A 2010 study from the National Institutes of Health examined the costs to society of certain crimes. For one offense of robbery, the total cost to society is estimated to be more than $40,000. As an isolated incident, this is a major drain on the community; left unchecked, an organized robbery ring could cost the community millions of dollars.
Authority and mission of the Task Force
The Cuyahoga County Organized Crime Task Force was formed in May 2013. The task force is co-sponsored by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The task force is granted its authority under Section 177.02 of the Ohio Revised Code.
The mission of the task force is to identify, investigate, arrest, and prosecute, as part of a joint law enforcement operation, persons who commit offenses under ORC 2923.32, 2913.02, 1315.53/55, 2913.42, 2921.41, 2913.45, 2921.41A, 3599.42, 2921.42, 2923.01/01b1 as well as others that violate the public trust. The unit engages in traditional methods of investigation, and where appropriate, conducts undercover operations that will result in effective prosecution before the courts of the United States and the State of Ohio.
The formation and investigative actions of the task force and its agents is the joint responsibility of the Executive Director of the Ohio Organized Crime Investigation Commission and the Task Force Director.
Due to the covert nature of the task force, participating agencies and task force officers are not named. However, partner agencies contribute expertise as well as necessary equipment that enhances the capabilities of the unit, including covert vehicles, communication devices, and any other items the agency and task force director deems available for task force use.
Upon his discretion, the Task Force Director may request that participating officers be deputized by the County Sheriff to extend their jurisdiction, enable them to execute arrest and search warrants, and execute subpoenas. Cooperating agencies share investigative reports, findings, and intelligence in furtherance of the mission of the task force. All task force information is kept strictly confidential.
The proceeds from forfeited assets is shared in a manner set forth by the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.
Cuyahoga County Organized Crime Outlook
The nature and scope of public corruption and organized criminal activity is wide reaching and diverse in Cuyahoga County, resulting in time-consuming and detailed investigations and prosecutions. Individuals committing these crimes have no regard for their victims. The extensive work conducted by the more than 50 law enforcement agencies in Cuyahoga County is commendable, as are their tireless efforts to contain crime in their jurisdictions.
Task Force Model Advantages
Physical boundaries, man power, rising costs, and increases in certain types of crime challenge the effectiveness of each agency’s ability to combat large-scale crime. Task force operations of this nature are a proven method of cooperation between agencies to achieve one mission. It allows for increased jurisdictional boundaries, subpoena power, administrative assistance, and the combined use of manpower, equipment, and expertise. Police agencies from around Cuyahoga County and adjoining counties provide personnel for temporary assignment to investigate and solve repetitive organizational crime that crosses jurisdictional borders. This model has proved effective for other task forces because it allows for shared resources and flexibility of assigning personnel from any one agency to target criminal activity that touches more than one community.