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NEW ORLEANS — Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New Orleans announced a new multistate collaboration July 19 to combat organized theft groups by targeting domestic and transnational criminal organizations that profit from organized retail crime. The new Organized Retail Crime Alliance connects federal, state and local law enforcement officials with prosecutors and financial and retail industry partners from Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama.

The alliance provides a multifaceted approach to disrupting and dismantling organized theft groups through partnerships, investigations and consumer awareness. Organized theft groups are sophisticated criminal organizations that profit from illegally obtaining goods that are later sold for economic gain, such as through cargo theft, organized retail crime, and other theft- and fraud-related criminal activities.

“Organized retail crime is not simply shoplifting, and it isn’t a victimless crime; it costs U.S. businesses billions of dollars every year and often local communities and businesses bear the costs of rising retail prices,” said HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Eric DeLaune. “Organized theft groups have become emboldened, stealing in broad daylight and resorting to violence, which has had detrimental impact on the economy, leading to higher prices and lost jobs and creating an unsafe environment for shoppers and employees. HSI is proud to partner with other law enforcement agencies, federal prosecutors and the retail industry to combat organized retail crime.”

According to the 2021 joint report released by the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Buy Safe America Coalition, in 2019, thieves stole nearly $70 billion in goods from retailers. As staggering as the number is, it neither accounts for losses related to cargo theft nor the uptick in organized retail crime during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fiscal year 2021, HSI initiated 59 organized retail crime investigations, representing a 211% increase from 19 investigations initiated in fiscal year 2020, and accounting for 61 criminal arrests, 55 indictments, 59 cases initiated, and $9,287,757 in assets seized. Organized retail theft results in $125.7 billion in lost economic activity each year as criminals use e-commerce platforms to resell stolen merchandise.

HSI’s partnerships with private industry groups, such as the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the Transported Asset Protection Association and others, remain an imperative component to the overarching success of efforts to counter organized theft groups systematically disrupting interstate and foreign commerce.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

For more information on what HSI is doing in the region follow @HSINewOrleans.

ICE breaking news HSI New Orleans launches multistate Organized Retail Crime Alliance Government Agency News