Philadelphia’s Organized Crime Strike Force, a unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office that has a 20-year record of success in making cases against the mob, is being folded into a larger unit that will also focus on drug dealing and gang violence, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Critics, including former prosecutors and FBI agents, said the consolidation could hinder the development of intelligence-based investigations and marginalize the fight against organized crime.
Louis Pichini, a former strike force prosecutor who directed a case that gutted the local mob family said it was important for “the unit to maintain an identity and expertise” and to be given the time to develop long-term cases. Strike forces were set up in the 1970s to develop broad-based cases and intelligence in the fight against traditional organized crime groups like La Cosa Nostra and the Sicilian Mafia. Strike forces were once separate from U.S. Attorney’s offices. Now they may be the victims of their own successes as well as the changing priorities of the Justice Department.