A Disruptive Technology Strike Force focusing on investigating and prosecuting criminal violations of export laws and enhancing the administrative enforcement of U.S. export controls is expanding after seeing a number of successes during the year since it was launched.

The strike force aims to prevent end-users of national security concern (e.g., China and Russia) from obtaining technologies such as those related to supercomputing and exascale computing, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing equipment and materials, quantum computing, and biosciences. Although technologies in these fields have important commercial uses, they can also threaten U.S. national security when used by adversaries for disruptive purposes, such as improving calculations in weapons design and testing, increasing the speed and accuracy of military or intelligence decision-making, and breaking or developing unbreakable encryption algorithms that protect sensitive communications and classified information.

The strike force is led by the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. Other agencies involved include the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations. Most recently the Defense Department’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service became a partner and operations expanded to an additional three metropolitan regions from the original 12.

Earlier this month members of the strike force held a two-day summit to review progress to date. A law enforcement-only event on the first day focused on case studies, best investigative practices, and briefings on cutting-edge technologies. A broader meeting on the second day that included representatives of the private sector discussed issues such as corporate compliance and best practices for building trade compliance programs.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco reported to the meeting that over the last year strike force members have arrested more than a dozen corporate executives, engineers, distributors, and other high-profile targets on charges that include sanctions and export control violations and other offenses involving the unlawful transfer of sensitive information and technology. They have also issued denial orders against 29 businesses, including freight forwarders and defense companies, which cut off their access to U.S. technology. Monaco said the strike force’s work has also resulted in additions to the DOC’s Entity List and Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List.

For more information on export controls and how to ensure your company is in compliance, please contact attorney Kristine Pirnia at (202) 730-4964 or via email.

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