WASHINGTON (AP) _ Attorney General Dick Thornburgh says a restructuring of the Justice Department's organized crime strike forces will enhance efforts against both traditional organized crime families and new organized crime elements.

Starting Jan. 1, the Justice Department's 14 strike forces will be folded into 23 U.S. attorneys offices across the country, Thornburgh said Wednesday in announcing plans to proceed with the reorganization, despite some congressional claims the move is unwarranted.

He defended the reorganization, which had been revealed previously, on the grounds that traditional organized crime run by Mafia families has changed, with the mob often working in tandem with Colombian drug cartels and others.

Moreover, organized crime is also operated by elements in the Asian community and gangs ''such as the Crips and Bloods and the Jamaican posses,'' he said.

--- Army Flooded With Panama Volunteer Offers

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Army has set up a 24-hour operation to screen the flood of offers it's had from volunteers who want to go to Panama and help restore battered public services.

So many have volunteered, spokesman Maj. Henry Fitts said Wednesday, that he's been unable to get a count.

The Pentagon already has dispatched 25 reserve civil affairs specialists along with 107 active duty experts to Panama.

Civil affairs specialists act as liaison officers between the military and the civilian government to help re-establish public services disrupted by fighting, such as utilities and transportation.

Virtually all the Army's civil affairs specialists are in reserve units, and the Pentagon paged those units for volunteers, said Fitts, a spokesman at the U.S. Army Reserve Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.

The Army particularly sought specialists, such as engineers or people familiar with transit systems or sanitation programs.

--- Mexico Denies Cuba Using Its Territory for Arms Shipments

WASHINGTON (AP) - Mexican officials are denying U.S. allegations that its territory has been used by Cuba to transport weapons to leftist rebels in El Salvador.

An official Mexican source on Wednesday rejected the allegation ''categorically'' because Mexico has built up a ''surveillance infrastructure'' to avoid use of its territory for such purchases.

U.S. officials have said that there are strong indications that Cuban- supplied weaponry is being sent to the Salvadoran rebels via a remote route that begins in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Mexican source, asking not to be identified, called the statements by the U.S. officials ''irresponsible, lacking in substance and false.''