White House taking on crime syndicates

Under the order, the government will block any property that crime organizations have an interest in, and will prohibit Americans from engaging in business with them.

It also authorizes the Treasury Department, working with the Justice and State Departments, to identify for sanctions any person or business that provides support to the crime groups.

By signing the order, the president has already imposed sanctions on several groups, including Italy's largest crime organization, the Camorra; the notorious Yakuza crime syndicate in Japan; Los Zetas, a Mexican-based group that helps traffic drugs into the U.S.; and the Brothers' Circle, a multi-ethnic Eurasian crime organization.

The White House noted that these and other crime groups are deepening their reach in many governments, citing a World Bank estimate of $1 trillion in bribes to public officials being made every year.

As these groups gain influence in government, they could in turn damage the world financial system by subverting legitimate markets, the administration said.

In addition, terrorist and insurgent groups are increasingly turning to crime syndicates to acquire funds and help with logistics. In fiscal 2010, the Justice Department determined that 29 of the 26 top trafficking groups had links to terrorist organizations.

And as technology develops, so too have the syndicates. Intellectual property theft is on the rise, as are growing incidents of cybercrime.