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Jennifer Shasky, senior counsel to the Deputy Attorney General (photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

Jennifer Shasky, senior counsel to the Deputy Attorney General on organized crime and gangs, has been named Chief of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.

Shasky took the reins from acting Chief James Meade on Monday.

AFMLS (“Af-Mills,” in DOJ speak) plays a key role in U.S. efforts to starve large-scale criminal organizations of resources. Shasky brings to the position a panoramic view of those efforts, as the driving force behind the department’s international organized crime strategy since 2008.

Shasky wore several hats in the the deputy’s office, including acting Director of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Counsel and head of the Anti-Gang Coordination Committee. Shasky said her work with prosecutors and agents fighting drug-trafficking on the Southwest Border, in particular, drew her to AFMLS.

“The thing that had become apparent to me is that we really need to go after the money. That’s where U.S. law enforcement is going to make the difference,” Shasky said. “Oftentimes defendants are more concerned about their assets and property, their toys, than even going to prison.”

Before joining the deputy’s office, Shasky was senior counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division and Deputy Chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. In the past two years, Shasky has helped hoist international organized crime high among the department’s priorities — as  evidenced in the budget — and raised its profile in other agencies, including in the intelligence community.

Shasky helped fuel the first National Security Estimate on organized crime since 1995. She also played a key role in the development of a 2008 strategy , advanced by the Obama administration, that aims to pool more intelligence among domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies to target leaders of international criminal syndicates.

“Jennifer has absolutely spearheaded the government’s efforts to take on international organized crime and has been largely responsible for putting it on the map of the department’s top priorities,” said David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General in the first year of the Obama administration.

Ogden, now a  partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, said Shasky’s understanding of the inter-working pieces of law enforcement would be a “tremendous asset” for AFMLS.

Shasky’s appointment caps a five-month search for a permanent replacement for Richard Weber, who resigned as Section Chief in February to lead a new economic crimes bureau in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Meade had been Deputy Chief for Policy before taking over for Weber.

The longtime Principal Deputy Chief of AFMLS, Lester Joseph, left in March to manage a financial investigations unit at Wells Fargo & Co.

In addition to its work on U.S. policy and legislation, AFMLS works closely with the State Department and other agencies to promote international asset recovery. The section also coordinates money laundering prosecutions that span multiple federal districts, and provides guidance and litigation assistance in major cases around the country.