Law enforcement leaders celebrate opening of Cleveland OCDETF Strike Force facility
(STL.News) U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman joined local and federal law enforcement leaders today for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the Cleveland Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force facility. The new facility will allow police, federal investigators and both state and federal prosecutors to collaborate and share resources on investigations into criminal organizations at one central location.
Joining U.S. Attorney Herdman in the announcement were representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Cleveland Division of Police (CPD); Internal Revenue Service (IRS); United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio (USAO-NDOH); Immigration and Customs Enforcement/United States Department of Homeland Security (ICE/HSI); United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); United States Marshals Service (USMS); United States Border Patrol (USBP); Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDTA) Task Force; and Independence Mayor Gregory Kurtz and Police Chief Michael Kilbane.
“This new facility will allow members of the Cleveland OCDETF Strike Force to more efficiently share intelligence and coordinate resources on investigations into drug trafficking organizations and others responsible for violent crime in the city of Cleveland and the outlying suburbs,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “I want to thank everyone involved in the planning, construction and operation of this facility. This building will greatly enhance our law enforcement presence and operational capacity for years to come.”
“As illicit drug production, transportation, and distribution plague our nation and the safety of our citizens, OCDETF remains the premier targeting, coordination, and intelligence platform for combatting high-level drug trafficking and its attendant violent crime,” said OCDETF Director Adam W. Cohen. “The Cleveland Strike Force does not just join 18 other OCDETF Strike Forces; it joins the largest anti-crime task force in the country. The Cleveland OCDETF Strike Force will bring to bear the full resources, authorities, and expertise of the OCDETF Program, maximizing its impact against priority threats.”
“Cleveland is one of the largest Strike Force’s in the nation,’ said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith. “The need for such a capability comes as a response to a persistent and growing crime rate, but it also serves as a bulwark and a predictive unit to address the new threats we see ahead. This Strike Force represents the best of our combined efforts – law enforcement resources working violence, drugs, gangs, carjackings, and armed robberies – TOGETHER – under one roof. We know this unanimity of purpose and unity of effort will only enhance our efforts to combat, disrupt and dismantle criminal activity.”
“The OCDETF Strike Force is another tool we are using to collectively combat those distributing poison throughout Ohio and committing violent acts to further their enterprise at the expense of the safety and security of our communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin. “We have already seen results from our collaborative efforts with our state, local and federal partners in Ohio and I fully expect this initiative to only get better. “
The organizational structure of the new facility allows for real-time, collaborative, centralized intelligence sharing between member agencies. Present in the facility are officers, investigators and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District, FBI, DEA, HSI, IRS, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service, Cleveland Division of Police, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Border Patrol, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the Independence Police Department and several other local area law enforcement agencies.
Launched in 2018, the Cleveland OCDETF Strike Force brings together local police agencies, federal agents and prosecutors to work collaboratively on investigations into major criminal organizations and their subsidiaries trafficking narcotics, weapons, humans and the proceeds of those crimes. Cooperative investigations are focused on dissolving these organizations, their financial infrastructure, and the violence that accompanies their activities.
In addition, the Strike Force also targets violent street gangs involved in retaliatory homicides, carjackings, commercial robberies and other violent activities, as well as people and organizations involved in trafficking opioids.