The External Effects of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Reprioritization Efforts
(Redacted for Public Release)
Audit Report 05-37
Office of the Inspector General
According to the FBI, a criminal enterprise is a structured organization engaging in acts of criminal conspiracy and/or criminal activity. Among the common criminal enterprises are drug-trafficking organizations, street gangs, and organized crime syndicates. These organizations are the focus of the FBI’s efforts in combating criminal enterprises.
Overall, the FBI utilized fewer agents on criminal enterprise matters in FY 2004 compared to FY 2000, and it opened fewer criminal enterprise cases during this timeframe. While the FBI used fewer agents on narcotics trafficking and organized crime investigations, the FBI did not alter its agent utilization on overall gang-related investigative efforts between FYs 2000 and 2004. The following sections discuss the results of our review of the FBI’s criminal enterprise investigative efforts, as well as the specific areas of narcotics trafficking, street gangs, and organized crime.
Allocation and Utilization of Agent Resources
As discussed in Chapter 2, the FBI’s Criminal Enterprise Plan, which was created in FY 2004, pooled drug, gang, organized crime, and major theft resource allocations into criminal enterprise allocations. However, FY 2004 field agent resources were allocated according to the CID’s old structure, before the implementation of the Criminal Enterprise Plan. These allotments were not altered with the implementation of the Criminal Enterprise Plan in mid-FY 2004. For FY 2005, the FBI allocated criminal agent positions according to its new organizational structure.45
While we were unable to determine the change in the FBI’s allocation of criminal enterprise agent positions from FYs 2000 to 2004 because of the reasons stated above, we were able to identify changes in the actual utilization of agents on criminal enterprise matters. We also analyzed agent utilization data at the subprogram level to obtain a more specific perspective on these changes. As evidenced in Exhibit 6-1, all criminal enterprise subprograms, except Violent Gangs, experienced on-board agent reductions between FYs 2000 and 2004, amounting to an overall decrease of 1,285 positions, or 45 percent.
The reduction in resources noted above corresponds with a significant decrease in case openings for criminal enterprise matters. As detailed in Exhibit 6-2, the number of criminal enterprise cases opened decreased by 3,994, or 52 percent, between FYs 2000 and 2004. Additionally, most of the criminal enterprise subprograms experienced substantial decreases in case openings during this period, with 6 of the 9 subprograms showing a reduction of at least 50 percent. In contrast, violent gangs, which experienced an increase in agent utilization of 49 agents or 18 percent, had more case initiations in FY 2004 than in FY 2000, increasing by 58 percent.
The FBI targets various criminal enterprises involved in illegal drug trafficking. For some criminal enterprises, drug trafficking is the organization’s primary mission; for others, it is a means to financially support its other criminal operations. According to the DEA, the United States is one of the most profitable illegal drug markets in the world, attracting ruthless, sophisticated, and aggressive drug traffickers.
Overall Allocation of FBI Drug-Related Resources
As part of its reprioritization efforts, the FBI assessed the areas in which it had concurrent jurisdiction with other law enforcement agencies, particularly with the DEA. As a result, the FBI significantly shifted resources away from investigating drug-related crime more than any other criminal area over the last 4 years.
Specifically, the FBI reduced drug-related field agent allocations from 890 agents in FY 2001 to 339 in FY 2004.49 This 551-agent reduction accounts for almost half of the reduction in the FBI’s total criminal agent FSL allocation of 1,143 positions. The FBI also staffs its drug-related investigations with reimbursed OCDETF agent positions. Between FYs 2000 and 2004, the number of FBI OCDETF positions decreased by 45 positions from 533 to 488, a reduction of 8 percent. As noted in Exhibit 6-1, the FBI actually used 540 agents on OCDETF matters during FY 2004. While this number is above the reimbursed number of 488 positions, it is significantly less than the 1,062 agents that actually worked OCDETF matters in FY 2000.
Overall FBI Agent Utilization on Drug-Related Matters
FBI Headquarters managers stated that most Mexican and Colombian criminal enterprise investigations involved drug-related matters, so we focused our analyses of the FBI’s narcotics trafficking efforts on three subprogram areas: (1) Mexican/Criminal Syndicates, (2) Colombian/Caribbean, and (3) OCDETF. Exhibit 6-3 provides data on the resource reductions in FBI drug-related investigations. As the exhibit demonstrates, the FBI operated its drug-related efforts in FY 2004 at less than half the staffing level it utilized in FY 2000. Specifically, the Mexican/Criminal Syndicates subprogram utilized 278 fewer agents in FY 2004 as compared to FY 2000, a decline of 79 percent in investigative resources. The Colombian/Caribbean subprogram experienced a decline of 111 agents, down from 146 agents in FY 2000 to only 35 in FY 2004. In addition, the FBI used over 50 percent fewer agents on OCDETF matters in FY 2004 than in FY 2000.
Overall FBI Drug-Related Casework
The significant decline in the number of FBI agents investigating drug-related crime has affected the number of drug-related cases opened by the FBI. Comparing case openings in the OCDETF, Mexican/Criminal Syndicates, and Colombian/Caribbean subprograms, the FBI opened 874 fewer cases in FY 2004 than in FY 2000, a decrease of 70 percent. Exhibit 6-4 displays the FBI case openings in these subprograms.
Aside from the decrease in the number of case openings, we also observed a reduction in the number of case serials associated with FBI drug-related investigations. FBI agents show evidence of their work on a case by submitting documents to the appropriate case file. Each document entry receives a serial, or tracking, number. Therefore, in evaluating the level of effort the FBI afforded drug investigations, the difference in the number of serials opened within each FY for a specific crime category provides additional perspective on the level of effort within active cases. In FY 2004, the FBI filed 50 percent fewer case serials on OCDETF matters than it had in FY 2000, declining from 391,275 serials to 195,954.
FBI officials acknowledged that its shift in resources away from narcotics has resulted in fewer drug-related cases. [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
Overall FBI Referrals of Drug-Related Matters to the USAOs
In addition to FBI casework statistics, we assessed the FBI’s investigative efforts in drug-related matters by analyzing information from USAOs. Specifically, we computed the change in the number of criminal matters reported to USAOs by federal investigative agencies for all drug-related violations, which is presented in Exhibit 6-5. Our analysis showed that the federal agencies submitted almost 2,000 fewer drug-related matters to the USAOs in FY 2004 than in FY 2000, a 10-percent reduction. In line with the FBI’s resource and casework reductions, overall FBI drug-related matters referred to federal prosecutors decreased by about 50 percent between FYs 2000 and 2004, from 3,292 referrals in FY 2000 to 1,699 in FY 2004.
The USAO tracks drug-related matters in three specific categories: (1) drug trafficking, (2) OCDETF, and (3) simple drug possession. During FY 2004, drug-trafficking violations comprised 85 percent of the overall drug-related matters referred to USAOs, while OCDETF matters accounted for an additional 14 percent of all drug matters received by the USAOs. The remaining one percent consisted of simple drug possession referrals. We performed additional analyses of drug trafficking and OCDETF referrals to USAOs.
Drug-Trafficking Matters – The FBI, DEA, ATF, and ICE accounted for 96 percent of the total 15,543 drug trafficking matters received by the USAOs during FY 2004. As Exhibit 6-6 shows, between FYs 2000 and 2004, total drug-trafficking matters received by the USAOs remained at nearly the same level, decreasing by only one percent. However, there were significant changes among federal agencies submitting the drug trafficking matters. For instance, the FBI decreased its drug trafficking referrals by 905, or 44 percent, between FYs 2000 and 2004, while the DEA increased its drug referrals by 811 during this period, covering a majority of the FBI’s reduction. Also noteworthy is that the ATF more than doubled its drug-trafficking referrals to the USAOs between FYs 2000 and 2004.
As shown in the preceding table, other federal law enforcement agencies, particularly the DEA and the ATF, appeared to compensate for the FBI’s decrease in drug trafficking matters, as total referrals to USAOs did not significantly change between FYs 2000 and 2004.
OCDETF Matters – Similar to drug-trafficking referrals, the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, and ICE comprised 96 percent of the total OCDETF matters received by the USAOs during FY 2004.50 However, unlike drug trafficking referrals, overall OCDETF matters received by the USAOs decreased by 34 percent between FYs 2000 and 2004, as evidenced in Exhibit 6-7.51 Moreover, each of these agencies referred significantly fewer OCDETF matters between FYs 2000 and 2004. As in the drug-related matter referrals, the FBI accounted for the greatest reduction in the number of OCDETF referrals, dropping from 1,127 OCDETF matters in FY 2000 to 485 in FY 2004.
The FBI’s reduction in these OCDETF referrals correlates to its resource reductions in OCDETF and general drug-related investigations and the resulting decreases in cases.
Drug-Related Resource Changes within FBI Field Divisions
At the FBI field office level, we reviewed the FBI’s agent utilization data in the three drug-related subprogram areas: (1) Mexican/Criminal Syndicates, (2) Colombian/Caribbean, and (3) OCDETF. This analysis afforded insight into changes within those investigative areas.
Exhibit 6-8 illustrates the 10 FBI field divisions with the greatest agent utilization reductions for these 3 drug-related subprogram areas combined. The Miami Division experienced the greatest decrease in agent utilization, declining by 69 agents between FYs 2000 and 2004. Five of the other 10 field divisions are located on or near the U.S. southwest border: El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Antonio.
Impact of FBI Drug-Related Resource Changes within the Field
Effect on FBI Drug Squads and Related Casework – One of the major effects from the FBI’s reduction in agents assigned drug cases was the impact on squads focusing on drug crime. In FY 2000, the Miami Division had at least nine drug squads; however, at the time of our review in April 2005, it operated with only three such squads. Similarly, the Phoenix Division used at least four separate drug squads in its pre-9/11 narcotics trafficking investigative efforts. During our visit to Phoenix in March 2005, FBI managers informed us that they scaled back to two drug squads. These FBI officials in Phoenix further commented that they believe that operating with fewer drug squads and resources caused drug crime in their jurisdiction to be significantly under-addressed by the FBI. The New York City Division did not reduce the number of its drug squads but operated each squad at significantly reduced staffing levels.
With fewer resources and fewer squads addressing drug-related crime, FBI field divisions, as a whole, opened fewer drug cases in FY 2004 than they did in FY 2000, as evidenced in Exhibit 6-4. Of the seven field offices where we conducted fieldwork, Exhibit 6-9 shows that six experienced substantial reductions in case openings. The FBI Los Angeles and Chicago Divisions were among the top five divisions experiencing the greatest decreases in case openings. Compared to FY 2000, the Los Angeles Division opened 93 percent fewer drug cases in FY 2004, declining from 72 case openings in FY 2000 to only 5 in FY 2004. In contrast, the New Orleans Division initiated two more cases during FY 2004 than it opened in FY 2000.
In addition to field offices initiating fewer drug cases, FBI field managers reported that the timeliness and quality of such investigations has been impaired. FBI representatives in the New York City and San Francisco Divisions stated that it takes their offices longer to close drug cases than it had prior to the shift in resources because fewer agents work on each drug case; however, both divisions asserted that the quality of work had not suffered. [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
Nearly all of the FBI field divisions we visited submitted fewer drug-related matters to federal prosecutors. Five of the seven FBI divisions referred fewer drug-related matters to their respective USAOs between FYs 2000 and 2004. As the following exhibit reflects, the Los Angeles, Miami, and New Orleans Divisions submitted significantly fewer drug matters to the USAOs in FY 2004 than in FY 2000. In contrast, there were nominal increases in the Phoenix and Chicago Divisions.
During our fieldwork, comments from representatives at various USAOs on the FBI’s drug-related efforts supported our data analyses. For example, [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]. Exhibit 6-10 shows that the FBI Los Angeles Division did, in fact, refer fewer drug-related matters to the USAO between FYs 2000 and 2004. Additionally, officials at the Eastern District of Louisiana USAO observed that the FBI reduced its drug-related work, which is reflected in the fewer number of such FBI referrals in the preceding table.
DEA Resource Adjustments – Other law enforcement officials we interviewed commented on the reduction of FBI drug resources and the resultant diminished FBI effort in narcotics-related matters. In particular, DEA Headquarters officials stated that the DEA recognized the FBI’s resource reductions and incorporated that factor into its decisions related to allocation of DEA agents to its field divisions. According to DEA and FBI managers, the DEA attempted to place additional resources in those locations where the FBI greatly decreased its drug-related investigative effort. The locations with the largest actual DEA agent increases are displayed in Exhibit 6-11. All of these field divisions, except Chicago, were among the 10 locations in which the FBI reduced its drug resources the most, as indicated in Exhibit 6-8. However, resources in the DEA’s New York, Miami, and Los Angeles offices still fell significantly short of the FBI’s drug-related reductions. In contrast, the DEA El Paso Division compensated fully for the FBI’s shift in priorities, while the DEA Chicago Division increased its on-board agents by more than double the FBI’s agent reduction.
A DEA Headquarters executive who oversees the agency’s domestic and international operations told us that he believed the DEA would be able to handle a greater number of drug cases than in the past, filling at least some of the gap left by the FBI’s reduction of investigative resources in this crime area. DEA field division managers echoed this sentiment, generally agreeing that their offices have been and will continue to be able to address the drug trafficking crime in their respective jurisdictions in light of the FBI’s reduced drug investigation efforts.
For example, officials at the Chicago DEA Division stated that because the FBI is investigating fewer drug-specific cases the DEA has experienced an increased number of requests from local law enforcement agencies regarding drug-trafficking matters in the Chicago metropolitan area, and they believe the DEA has been able to address these requests. Similarly, officials at the DEA in New Orleans said they have compensated for the FBI’s reduction in drug investigations by adding more agents to their office’s investigative operations.
[SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED]
Local Law Enforcement Perspective – Generally, local law enforcement agencies reported to us that they consider the DEA its primary federal contact for drug-related crime issues. For example, in California both the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department consider the DEA its principal partner in drug-related operations. Additionally, the San Jose, California, Police Department also considers the DEA its primary partner in drug-related matters. Local police departments in the Phoenix, Miami, and New Orleans metropolitan areas expressed similar viewpoints. Even though officials at many local law enforcement agencies viewed the DEA as their primary federal contact for narcotics-related matters, representatives at some of the local police departments we visited commented that the FBI was more involved in their departments’ drug-related investigations prior to the FBI’s shift in resources than the FBI had been recently. Overall, the state and local law enforcement officials we interviewed indicated that their agencies were not negatively affected by the FBI’s reprioritization in the area of drug-related crime.
Drug Task Force Operations
In our discussions with law enforcement representatives, we were told by numerous officials that a multi-agency task force is an essential tool in investigating certain crime matters such as narcotics trafficking. Task force operations bring together law enforcement personnel, and at times industry representatives, to cooperatively address a pervasive crime issue. Several officials stated that task forces provide “the biggest bang for the buck” by multiplying each agency’s efforts through utilizing each others’ resources and expertise. During our audit fieldwork, we learned of two particularly effective drug task forces that assisted in coordinating agencies’ efforts in addressing narcotics trafficking.
OCDETF Strike Force – The OCDETF Strike Force (Strike Force) in New York City is an example of a task force operation. The Strike Force, which began operation in May 2004, is a co-located, co-managed, multi-agency task force with over 20 investigative squads. The Strike Force is comprised of over 200 participants from various agencies, including the ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE, Internal Revenue Service, New York City Police Department (NYPD), New York State Police, and USAOs of the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. Participants are detailed to one of the investigative squads so that each squad consists of personnel from multiple agencies. Management is shared throughout agencies on the Strike Force, from executive management to squad supervisors. The Strike Force’s top-level management consists of a Chief (a DEA Associate SAC) and two Deputy Chiefs (an FBI Assistant SAC and an NYPD official).
During the development of this Strike Force, the FBI stated it would allocate 40 agents to this effort. However, at the time of our review, only 25 FBI agents participated on the Strike Force and FBI officials in the New York City Division expressed concern that the FBI may be required to reduce its resource contribution even further. A DEA Headquarters official commented that an FBI withdrawal from the Strike Force would be a significant blow to the task force’s capabilities and effectiveness.
Officials from the FBI, DEA, ATF, and ICE New York City Divisions, as well as the Southern District of New York USAO and the NYPD, endorsed the value of the Strike Force, considering it successful even in its infancy and calling it a model for large-scale, multi-agency task force ventures.
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Initiative – On a smaller scale as compared to the OCDETF Strike Force in New York City, the Chicago FBI and DEA divisions have developed a co-located, commingled narcotics squad. This squad was formed as part of the HIDTA initiative to attack drug trafficking organizations listed on the Department of Justice’s Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) list. FBI and DEA division managers we interviewed considered this squad a success and cited the cooperation of the agents as the primary factor contributing to its achievements.
Conclusions on Narcotics Trafficking
Since 9/11, the FBI has significantly reduced the number of resources it devotes to drug-related investigations. FBI field divisions have decreased the number of drug squads, the number of agents on the remaining squads, the number of drug cases opened, and the number of drug-related criminal matters referred to the USAOs. Moreover, our analyses showed that the USAOs received 10 percent fewer drug-related matters from federal investigative agencies in FY 2004 than in FY 2000 and that the majority of this reduction occurred in OCDETF matters.
DEA officials commented that the FBI’s work in drug cases is important to the national effort to address drug crime; however, these officials did not believe the FBI’s reduced drug investigative efforts have negatively affected the DEA’s efforts in combating drug crime. Similarly, representatives at the state and local law enforcement agencies we visited indicated that their drug-related efforts had not been negatively affected by the FBI’s reprioritization.
In many communities across the country, particularly urban settings, gang-related crime is a grave threat to public safety. Gangs are involved in many crimes that threaten the security and well-being of many communities. Traditionally, gang activity has encompassed the drug trade and violent crime. However, according to some local law enforcement agency officials, gangs are becoming more sophisticated and are becoming involved in other criminal activity, including identity theft.
Overall FBI Gang-Related Agent Utilization
The FBI did not allocate field agent resources specifically to gangs in FYs 2000 through 2004. Therefore, we were unable to compare the overall change in funded positions dedicated to this area during this period. Instead, we relied on more specific FBI agent utilization data to assess changes in the FBI’s gang-related effort. As Exhibit 6-1 demonstrates, the Violent Gangs subprogram was the only FBI criminal enterprise subprogram area to experience a personnel increase between FYs 2000 and 2004. However, OCDETF matters focusing on gangs experienced a decrease during this period. When added together, the FBI did not alter its overall gang-related investigative effort between FYs 2000 and 2004, committing about 435 agents in each FY, as shown in Exhibit 6-12.
Overall FBI Gang-Related Case Openings
Although the FBI committed approximately the same amount of resources toward investigating gang-related matters in FY 2004 as it did in FY 2000, it increased the number of gang-related case openings between FYs 2000 and 2004 by 264 cases. As Exhibit 6-13 shows, the FBI initiated 826 cases in FY 2004 and 562 cases in FY 2000, a 47-percent increase.
FBI Field Divisions’ Gang-Related Resource Changes
As evidenced in Exhibit 6-14, some FBI field divisions focused fewer resources on gang-related matters from FY 2000 to FY 2004 while others increased their efforts. The Los Angeles and Baltimore Divisions decreased their agent utilization the most, with nine fewer agents working gang-related investigations in FY 2004 compared to FY 2000, amounting to 17-percent and 50-percent reductions in these respective divisions. Conversely, the New York City and Chicago Divisions increased the number of agents working gang-related investigations, utilizing 19 (or 146 percent) and 17 (or 68 percent) more agents, respectively.
FBI Field Divisions’ Gang-Related Casework Changes
The resource utilization changes represented in Exhibit 6-14 do not entirely correspond to the change in gang-related case openings between FYs 2000 and 2004. For instance, while the Atlanta, Miami, and Washington, D.C. Divisions experienced agent utilization reductions of at least 25 percent between FYs 2000 and 2004, each nonetheless opened more gang-related cases in FY 2004 than in FY 2000, as evidenced in Exhibit 6-15.
Of those divisions shown in Exhibit 6-14 as experiencing the greatest increase or decrease of agents involved in gang investigations, Exhibit 6-15 shows that only the Baltimore Division opened fewer cases in FY 2004. The Philadelphia Division increased its gang-related case openings threefold, rising from 10 cases in FY 2000 to 44 in FY 2004. This increase of 34 cases occurred concurrently with the 9-agent increase it experienced in actual agent utilization. The Chicago Division, with 17 additional agents working gang-related investigations, also significantly increased its gang-related case initiations during this period, opening 49 additional cases in FY 2004 than in FY 2000.
FBI Safe Streets Task Forces
In January 1992, the FBI announced its Safe Streets Violent Crime Initiative, which was designed to allow field offices the ability to address street gang and drug-related violence through the establishment of FBI-sponsored task forces. These task forces are referred to as the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Forces (SSTF). An SSTF is a multi-agency task force comprised of FBI agents, local police, and other federal law enforcement agents that traditionally focused its efforts on violent crime matters, such as fugitives, gangs, and major theft. In October 2004, the FBI CID Assistant Director stated that the FBI would be expanding its efforts in combating gangs, particularly through its SSTFs.
In FY 2000, the FBI committed over 820 agents to 180 SSTFs nationwide. In December 2004, about 550 FBI agents participated in 143 SSTFs, a decrease of approximately 270 agents and 37 task forces. Recently, the FBI announced that it will add 25 new SSTFs to specifically target violent gangs.
ATF’s Perspective on Gang-Related Matters
In addition to the FBI, many other law enforcement agencies combat gang crime issues, especially local police and sheriff’s departments. At the federal level, the ATF, DEA, and ICE also perform gang-related investigations.54 As an ATF Headquarters official stated, with so many law enforcement agencies investigating gangs the possibility of investigative duplication is significant.
Management at ATF Headquarters stated that there is a duplication of effort in the anti-gang arena among the FBI, ATF, and other DOJ components. FBI and ATF officials in New York City and San Francisco also commented that there was a duplication of effort in gang investigations between the FBI and the ATF, as well as with other agencies.
We found during our fieldwork in March 2005 that sufficient communication and coordination of gang-related investigations did not occur at several locations we visited. For example, FBI New York City Division officials acknowledged that communication with the ATF on gang activity within the city of New York could improve.55 Additionally, representatives from the ATF San Francisco Division stated that while gang issues constituted its number one investigative focus, there was no coordination with the FBI’s on-going gang efforts.
Overall Impact on Law Enforcement Community’s Gang-Related Efforts
In most cases, representatives from local law enforcement agencies did not indicate a significant change in the FBI’s investigative presence in gang matters. However, a few local officials indicated the FBI’s involvement in this investigative area has diminished in the past 4 years. For instance, representatives at the Oakland, California, Police Department remarked that FBI assistance in the police department’s violent crime matters decreased by approximately 60 percent since 9/11.
Top Gangs Meetings
In discussions with law enforcement personnel in Chicago, which has significant gang problems, we were informed about monthly meetings among the federal and local law enforcement community. All law enforcement agencies that investigate gangs in the Chicago area meet once a month to discuss their gang-related operations. These meetings were established by the Chicago Police Department and attended by law enforcement agencies including the ATF, FBI, DEA, ICE, the Northern District of Illinois USAO, and the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. ATF, DEA, and FBI officials in Chicago believe the meetings aided gang investigations throughout the city.
In our discussions with law enforcement agencies at other locations that do not have these types of monthly coordination meetings, many managers stated that it would be useful to incorporate such a practice with regard to gang-related issues in their cities. We believe the FBI and other federal agencies in locations with significant gang problems should consider developing such working groups with each other and their state and local counterparts.
DOJ Anti-Gang Initiative
At our exit conference, the FBI informed us of a new DOJ anti-gang initiative. Under this initiative, the Department intends to examine the possibility of creating an integrated gang database and co-locating the various anti-gang intelligence and information systems maintained within the Department. In addition, the USAOs are to establish an “Anti-Gang Coordinator” position responsible for preparing a comprehensive, district-wide anti-gang strategy and coordinating such investigations at the federal, state, and local levels. Further, the DOJ established the policy that all jurisdictions with multiple anti-gang task forces or initiatives should co-locate such activities if feasible. In July 2005, the FBI promulgated guidance on this anti-gang initiative to its field offices and directed them to work with the local USAOs in implementing the new strategy.
Conclusions on Street Gangs
Overall, the FBI’s reprioritization efforts have not affected the number of agents working on gang-related matters. FBI agent utilization data illustrated that the FBI essentially maintained the same level of agents investigating gang-related matters in FY 2004 that it had in FY 2000. Additionally, the FBI opened almost 50 percent more gang-related cases in FY 2004 than in FY 2000.
In addition to drug trafficking enterprises and street gangs, the other main type of criminal enterprise that the FBI investigates is organized crime. Contemporary organized crime within the United States has expanded beyond historical La Cosa Nostra and Italian syndicates to include, for example, Asian and African organizations, as well as those of Russian and Albanian descent.
Overall FBI Organized Crime Resources
As illustrated in Exhibit 6-16, the FBI specifically allocated 700 field agent resources for organized crime matters in FY 2001.56 During FY 2004, the FBI assigned 720 organized crime resources to the field, an increase of 20 agents. The FBI’s allocations of agents for organized crime matters showed little change in each of the last four FYs, as shown in the following exhibit.
In our discussions with FBI Headquarters personnel, we found that the following FBI subprograms predominantly comprise the FBI’s investigative efforts in organized crime matters: (1) La Cosa Nostra and Italian organizations, (2) Asian organizations, and (3) Russian and Eurasian organizations. We analyzed actual agent utilization data for these three subprograms and found that although the FBI’s allocation of agents remained relatively static over the past 4 years, the FBI actually decreased its agent utilization rate in organized crime matters since FY 2000. Specifically, the FBI decreased its overall organized crime agent utilization by 236 agents between FYs 2000 and 2004, as shown in Exhibit 6-17. Thus, while the FBI did not plan for the organized crime resource levels to be affected by its reprioritization, it appears that a significant reduction has occurred over the last few years.
Overall FBI Organized Crime Casework
Analysis of FBI organized crime case openings for the three subprogram areas noted in the previous section shows fewer cases opened in FY 2004 than in FY 2000. In total, the FBI initiated 170 fewer cases in these subprograms, with 143 fewer case openings in La Cosa Nostra and Italian organized crime matters alone during this time period. This overall decline corresponds to a 39-percent reduction, as illustrated in Exhibit 6-18.
An FBI Headquarters official confirmed that the FBI was underutilizing organized crime resources and opening fewer such cases. He attributed this to the FBI field divisions’ commitment to fulfilling the FBI’s mandate of addressing all counterterrorism leads. In complying with this requirement, field divisions took resources from their traditional criminal squads, which generally resulted in reductions in both agent utilization and case openings in traditional crime areas. At the field offices we visited, FBI managers confirmed this occurrence.
Overall Organized Crime Matters Referred by the FBI to the USAOs
Exhibit 6-19 shows the six federal agencies referring the most organized crime matters to the USAOs in FYs 2000 and 2004. These agencies comprised at least 97 percent of all organized crime matters received by the USAOs during this timeframe. The FBI accounted for 83 percent of all organized crime matters submitted to the USAOs in FY 2000, but this percentage dropped to 75 percent in FY 2004.
In total, comparing FYs 2000 and 2004, the FBI referred 168 fewer organized crime matters to the USAOs, with 451 matters received in FY 2000 and 283 in FY 2004. As evidenced in Exhibit 6-19, the FBI’s referral reduction matches the total decrease of organized crime matters received by the USAOs during our review period. Although the ATF and DEA increased their referrals by a combined total of 30, this increase did not compensate for the FBI’s reduction in organized crime-related referrals.
FBI Organized Crime Resources within Field Divisions
We found that FBI agent allocations among field divisions for organized crime matters varied considerably. Exhibit 6-20 illustrates the eight FBI field divisions receiving the greatest organized crime allocations in FY 2004. The New York City Division’s 212 funded agent positions for organized crime matters were considerably more than any other field division. Additionally, the chart shows the actual number of on-board agents used to investigate organized crime matters in the field divisions’ jurisdictions.57 In each of these field divisions, organized crime resources were utilized below the planned level. For example, the New York City Division used only 143 of its 212 positions allocated to investigate organized crime.
Looking specifically at agent utilization reductions in organized crime matters between FYs 2000 and 2004, we found that the New York City Division’s reduction of 64 on-board agents accounted for the greatest decrease, as shown below in Exhibit 6-21.
Although most of the FBI’s field divisions experienced reductions in organized crime agent utilization, there were a few divisions that had an increase. The San Antonio, Miami, and Detroit Divisions increased by at least one on-board agent in organized crime matters between FYs 2000 and 2004. The San Antonio Division increased from one to eight agents during this time period, equaling its intended FY 2004 resource level.
FBI Miami Division personnel stated that their office’s efforts to investigate organized crime were not affected by the FBI’s shifting of resources. However, although the Miami Division experienced an increase in agent utilization between FYs 2000 and 2004, it utilized only about 20 of the planned 35 organized crime agents it was allocated for FY 2004.
FBI Organized Crime Casework among Field Divisions
Exhibit 6-22 shows the FBI’s organized crime case openings for those field divisions that we visited. The Los Angeles Division opened 19 fewer organized crime cases in FY 2004 than in FY 2000, declining from 32 case initiations to 13. The San Francisco Division experienced a reduction of 18 case openings, opening 9 investigations in FY 2004 compared to 27 in FY 2000. Further, the New Orleans Division did not open any organized crime cases in FY 2004. The table also shows that the New York City Division, which we previously reported utilized 64 fewer agents in FY 2004 than it did in FY 2000, actually increased its organized crime case openings by 6 during this period.
Organized Crime Matters Referred to the USAOs by FBI Field Divisions
For the FBI field divisions we visited, the number of organized crime matters received by the USAOs from the FBI for FYs 2000 and 2004 correlated with each office’s change in case openings. The San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago Divisions’ case opening reductions displayed in Exhibit 6-22 corresponded with decreases in the number of organized crime matters referred to their respective USAOs, as reflected in Exhibit 6-23.
Impact on Law Enforcement Community
In those FBI offices in which we conducted fieldwork, most of the divisions experienced reductions in agent utilization, reductions in organized crime case openings, and reductions in referrals to USAOs. The one anomaly was the FBI’s New York City Division. While experiencing resource reductions in its organized crime investigative efforts, the New York City Division continued to refer similar numbers of organized crime matters to the USAOs. The Southern District of New York USAO in Manhattan confirmed that the FBI has maintained its efforts in pursuing organized crime. Further, federal prosecutors and local police department officials communicated their desire that the FBI continue its assistance in organized crime matters. USAO representatives stressed the need to continue prosecuting organized-crime matters in New York. They also stated that the growing networks of Russian and Asian organized crime require intervention by federal law enforcement. These USAO officials consider the FBI’s role in these efforts to be critical.
In the other FBI field divisions reviewed, officials commented on the negative effect of the FBI’s reduced effort in organized crime investigations. For instance, officials from the Central District of California USAO in Los Angeles, noting the reduction in organized crime matters received from the FBI, stated that the FBI Los Angeles Division needed more agents to address such issues. Additionally, officials at the Southern District of Florida USAO in Miami remarked that the FBI Miami Division’s four squads dedicated to criminal enterprise investigations had been reduced to two, which decreased investigative outcomes.
Conclusions on Organized Crime Matters
Overall, the FBI’s reprioritization has not affected the number of agents allocated to work organized crime matters. However, agent utilization data illustrated that the FBI decreased the actual number of agents investigating organized crime matters, resulting in fewer organized crime case openings and referrals to the USAOs since FY 2000.
The FBI decreased the number of agents assigned to criminal enterprise matters by 45 percent between FYs 2000 and 2004, most notably in drug-trafficking and organized crime matters. During this same period, the FBI’s agent utilization in gang-related matters changed little. FBI criminal enterprise case openings generally reflected the FBI’s resource utilization changes, declining in drug-trafficking and organized crime. However, the FBI initiated 47 percent more gang-related investigations in FY 2004 than in FY 2000.
Overall, the FBI’s drug-related matters were affected the greatest, which correlates with the FBI’s policy decision to most significantly reduce its resources targeting drug cases. However, neither the DEA nor the state and local law enforcement agencies contacted indicated that they had been negatively affected in this area by the FBI’s reprioritization.
Conversely, the FBI intended to slightly increase its organized crime agents, but actually reduced its agent utilization in this area by 35 percent between FYs 2000 and 2004 and several USAO officials indicated that this had a negative effect in their jurisdictions.