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Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section

Section Overview

AUSAs in the Environmental and Community Crimes Section handle a wide variety of environmental crime cases, including pollution by ocean going cruise vessels, underground fuel storage tank leaks, smuggling and distribution of ozone-depleting substances (CFCs and/or refrigerants) in violation of the federal Clean Air Act, unlawful transportation and disposal of hazardous wastes, destruction and removal of Native American artifacts and native plants on federal lands, and the smuggling of endangered species.  AUSAs in the section participate in community outreach efforts to encourage the reporting of environmental violations.  Members of the section also regularly provide training to agents and staff a variety of working groups and task forces.


Joseph Johns

Joseph Johns is the Chief of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section.  AUSA Johns received a Bachelor of Science in International Politics and Science & Technology from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1986.  He earned his Juris Doctor from Arizona State University’s College of Law in 1989.  AUSA Johns began his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney within the Environmental Crimes Section of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office in 1990.  He later worked as an AUSA  with a focus on federal environmental crimes prosecutions for the United States Attorney’s Office  (“USAO”) for the Eastern District of California from 1995-1997.  AUSA Johns served as the first Director of the Joint Center for Strategic Environmental Enforcement “fusion center” in Lakewood, Colorado, operated by the United States Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency from 1997-1998.  Thereafter, he joined this Office. 

During his time at this Office, AUSA Johns has served as Chief of the Public Integrity and Environmental Crimes Section, and now as Chief of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section.  During his legal career, AUSA Johns has investigated and prosecuted every category of state and federal environmental crime, in addition to hundreds of other public safety crimes, including several high profile forest fire cases, food, drug, and medical device safety cases, and archeological resource looting and smuggling cases.  He has created, managed, and supported various regional and county environmental crimes task forces throughout the country.  AUSA Johns has been a frequent lecturer on subjects and issues related to corporate liability, environmental crimes, and corporate and government compliance.

Recent Cases

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Press Release
Former San Fernando Valley Man Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Protected South American Fish Species to Canada

Friday, November 6, 2015
Press Release
Downey Man Pleads Guilty to Falsely Certifying Beef as Free of E. coli

Friday, October 30, 2015
Press Release
South American Man who Illegally Trafficked in Protected Orchids on Layover at LAX Pleads Guilty to Federal Wildlife Charge

Friday, October 23, 2015
Press Release
Operation ‘Fright Night’ Targets Cosmetic Contact Lenses that are Illegally Sold without a Prescription and Pose Risk to Eyesight

Monday, September 28, 2015
Press Release
Ex-San Fernando Valley Man Extradited from Mexico to Face Wildlife Trafficking Charges Related to Illegal Export of South American Fish

Section Contact Information

The United States Attorney's Office
Central District of California
Criminal Division
Attn: Environmental Crimes Section
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012

Updated November 24, 2015