Justice Marks Anniversary of Disruptive Tech Strike Force


On Feb. 7 and 8, the Justice Department's National Security Division hosted a summit in Phoenix, Arizona, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the launch of its Disruptive Technology Strike Force - an interagency law enforcement effort aimed at preventing critical technologies from being acquired by authoritarian regimes and hostile nation-states.

Strike Force co-leads Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department's National Security Division and Asisstant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew Axelrod of the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), were joined in Phoenix by U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino for the District of Arizona.

The two-day event began with a law enforcement-only day focused on case studies, best investigative practices, briefings on cutting-edge technologies, and one-year reports from all 15 of the local cells. On the second day, the Strike Force was joined by private sector and academia representatives from across the country for sessions describing the work of the Strike Force across multiple subject areas, corporate compliance, best practices for building trade compliance programs, and law enforcement outreach efforts.

Along with U.S. government officials, the summit consisted of presenters from the private sector and academia, including officials from Arizona State University, which hosted the event at its Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law.

Members of the Ukrainian government attended the summit as honored guests to present on the use of advanced technology by Russia in its unlawful and full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine, and how the work of the Strike Force can assist Ukraine's war efforts. Yuriy Bielousov, the Head of the War Crimes Department in the Office of the Prosecutor General; Dr. Nataliia Nestor, the Deputy Director of the Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise in the Ministry of Justice; and Vladyslav Vlasiuk, an advisor on sanctions in the Office of the President of Ukraine represented Ukraine at the summit.

The three were among the Ukrainian officials with whom AAG Olsen and Assistant Secretary Axelrod met during their trip to Kyiv in late 2023. The Strike Force is grateful for its close partnership with the Ukrainian government.

Strike Force Expands

During the event, AAG Olsen and Assistant Secretary Axelrod announced the expansion of the Strike Force to three new metropolitan areas and formally recognized the Defense Department's Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) as a partner in the Strike Force. All five agencies that make up the Strike Force-the Justice Department's National Security Division, the Commerce Department's BIS, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and DCIS-were represented at the one-year summit.

Monaco's Remarks

Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, who first announced the creation of the Strike Force one year ago, delivered virtual remarks to commemorate the one-year anniversary.

[Remarks as Delivered]

A year ago, I announced the launch of the Disruptive Technology Strike Force. In partnership with the Commerce Department, we at the Department of Justice set out to achieve a major national security priority: to strike back against adversaries trying to steal our most powerful technology and use it against us.

You — our nation’s top technology experts and Strike Force members — are gathered in Phoenix today. You are prosecutors, agents, and analysts from our National Security Division, the Commerce Department, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security’s HSI, the Department of Defense, and designated U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. You are leaders in the private sector and at research institutions and universities. And you are working as one to respond to an ever-evolving threat landscape.

And respond you have: In the last year, you have executed the arrests of more than a dozen corporate executives, engineers, distributors, and other high-profile targets from across the world. They will now answer as criminal defendants in U.S. courts for alleged sanctions and export control violations, smuggling conspiracies, and other offenses involving the unlawful transfer of sensitive information and technology.

You have issued denial orders against 29 businesses, including defense companies, airlines, and freight forwarders, cutting off their access to U.S. technology.

By unearthing vital information about key threat actors, your work has resulted in additions to Commerce’s Entity List and Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List.

You have engaged with international partners in every corner of the globe to combat this threat by expanding collaboration on technology protection measures.

And here at home, you’ve grown the Strike Force by adding interagency partners — including Defense Criminal Investigative Services — and enforcement teams from additional U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.

Of course, none of this would be possible without potent partnerships in the private sector and with research institutions. We’re working more closely than ever before with companies involved in the manufacture, sale, and shipment of sensitive export-controlled items — along with leading universities at the vanguard of R&D in emerging technology. To those partners joining today — welcome and thank you.

I also want to offer special appreciation to the two co-leads of this important initiative: Assistant Attorney General Matt Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matt Axelrod of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security. They have done a fantastic job spearheading the Disruptive Technology Strike Force.

Through their remarkable efforts, we have built — and will continue to build — a broad coalition of partners here and abroad to fight this threat together. In November, they traveled to Ukraine to reaffirm our commitment to curbing the illegal flow of advanced technology to Russia.

And I’m proud to welcome the Ukrainian delegation joining today. Working together to combat this threat is so critical to both of our countries.

Over the last year, the Disruptive Technology Strike Force has made great strides in neutralizing threats posed by our adversaries.

And I want to be clear: we will not stop. No, we are just getting started.

To all of you: thank you for the work you are doing to strike back against our adversaries, and to attack tomorrow’s national security threats today.

You are the engine of our efforts, and I look forward to our second year of work together, with many more years to come. Thank you.