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The Budapest Project

International Partnerships Fight International Crime
The Budapest Project

10/31/03

Imagine you're Director of the FBI and you see an explosion of organized crime in another part of the world that is spilling over into the United States—what do you do?

Do you raise the issue with your colleagues in other countries? Of course.

Do you offer assistance in training and forensics? Of course.

Do you share information and coordinate investigations? Of course.

And, in the case of burgeoning Russian and Eurasian organized crime syndicates in Central Europe following the fall of communism, you go one step further.

In April 2000, the FBI-Hungarian National Police Organized Crime Task Force was created in Budapest, Hungary. Its focus: to investigate and dismantle organized crime groups that had begun to headquarter in this historic Central European center of commerce and finance.

Why a task force? Because it's a proven concept that has unified anti-crime operations across the entire land mass of the United States, joining the efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in common cause. For example, the FBI New York Bank Robbery Task Force pioneered the concept in 1979. Then, in 1980, New York established the first Joint Terrorism Task Force, which has grown to today's 84 Joint Terrorism Task Forces that focus specifically on the threat of terrorism in the U.S. And some 133 Safe Street Task Forces are focused on violent gangs, major theft, and violent fugitives to protect America's streets. In today's era of transnational crime, international task forces that are focused on specific crime problems may well offer communities around the world their best protection against lawlessness.

Who's on it? Members of the Hungarian National Police, FBI Special Agents, Intelligence Analysts, and Language Specialists, all working out of Hungarian National Police Headquarters, supported by their colleagues in other countries.

What success has it had? Lots. Working side by side, Task Force members are collecting evidence that, bit by bit, is unraveling the international leadership of the syndicates as well as their multifarious criminal activities. Already several high profile fugitives have been arrested in the U.S., including a Top Ten Hungarian fugitive.