The Criminal Division oversees some of the most complex and wide-ranging criminal cases brought in federal courts. Below is an overview of the Criminal Division units.
Terrorism and International Narcotics
The Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of transnational acts of terrorism, narco-terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and money laundering which threaten U.S. national security. In 2009, Mr. Bharara created the unit by merging the Terrorism and National Security and International Narcotics Trafficking units because of the increasing nexus between narco-trafficking and terrorism. The unit works closely with the Office’s local, state, national, and international law enforcement partners, including, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force
The Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Forces investigates and prosecutes crimes relating to the operation of the country’s securities and commodities markets, including all varieties of securities fraud, insider trading, market manipulation schemes, accounting and regulatory reporting frauds, and penny stock “pump and dump” schemes. The Task Force works in close coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as the FBI to uncover these financial frauds.
The Complex Frauds Unit oversees the investigation and prosecution of complex fraud cases involving financial institution fraud, mortgage fraud, health care fraud, and tax fraud, as well as cyber crimes. The unit was created by Mr. Bharara in 2009 to apply renewed focus and additional resources toward addressing the significant threat that the crimes pose to the national economy and to the financial health of individuals and their local communities. The unit works in close coordination with the Civil Division’s Civil Frauds Unit and with the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture Unit, to maximize the recovery of criminal proceeds from complex frauds, and to return the money to victims.
The Public Corruption Unit works, in close partnership with the FBI and New York City Department of Investigation, to maintain and protect the integrity of all levels of government. The unit oversees the investigation and prosecution of corruption crimes committed by elected and appointed officials, government employees, and individuals and companies doing business with the city, state, and federal government. Corruption crimes investigated by the unit include bribery, embezzlement, and frauds committed against local, state, and federal government agencies.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit handles all criminal and civil forfeiture actions for the Office. These cases include the forfeiture of the proceeds of corporate and securities fraud, economic crime, cybercrime, health care fraud, international narcotics trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and public corruption. In the past six fiscal years, the unit has forfeited in excess of $2.5 billion in crime proceeds. Assistants in the unit utilize forfeiture laws to locate, seize, and forfeit crime proceeds so they can be restored to the victims of these crimes. The unit has also pioneered the use of federal forfeiture laws to recover and return stolen art and cultural heritage property.
The Organized Crime Unit investigates and prosecutes crimes committed by La Cosa Nostra, or the Italian mafia, and other criminal groups, rings and networks in the Eastern European, Eurasian, Balkan, Asian, and Middle Eastern communities. The unit also focuses on labor union corruption and racketeering, as well as foreign-based criminal activity involving narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking, alien smuggling, telemarketing fraud, health care fraud, and counterfeiting.
The Violent Crimes Unit seeks to disrupt and dismantle the District’s most violent criminal organizations, as well as to identify and remove the most dangerous offenders from its streets. Over the last several years, the unit has increasingly used the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute and employed large-scale narcotics sweeps, using undercover drug buys, wiretaps, and cooperating witnesses, to charge many dozens of defendants in housing projects and neighborhoods in Manhattan, the Bronx, and upstate New York that experienced spikes in violent crime. The unit also investigates and prosecutes unsolved or “cold” homicides.
The Narcotics Unit is devoted to prosecuting narcotics and money laundering cases at the local, regional and international levels. The unit works closely with a variety of federal law enforcement agencies including the DEA, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and local law enforcement agencies, including the NYPD and the New York State Police, to prosecute narcotics dealers who traffic in cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other controlled substances. The Narcotics Unit leads the way in pioneering the prosecution of cases involving new and synthetic drugs that create new public dangers. The work of the unit has led to significant seizures of controlled substances, as well as proceeds from the criminal activity.
All new Assistant U.S. Attorneys are first assigned to the General Crimes Unit, where they are introduced to the various aspects of federal criminal prosecution. In the unit, Assistants learn how to investigate, bring to trial, and handle appeals for criminal cases. Assistants in the unit also handle the daily intake of cases referred to the Office by virtually every law enforcement agency within the District. Assistants are then assigned to the various senior units within the Office where the larger and more complex cases are handled.
The Criminal Appeals Unit provides support to the Office by ensuring that submissions to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit are of the highest quality. The unit assists with writing briefs and motions, and preparing Criminal Division Assistants for oral arguments before the Second Circuit. The unit also provides guidance on legal issues arising in all phases of criminal prosecutions, advises the Office of developments in criminal law, and assists in the formulation of Office policies that address enforcement of that law.
White Plains Division
The White Plains Division investigates and prosecutes violations of federal law occurring primarily in Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess, and Sullivan counties. Over the past several years, the Division, working with state and local law enforcement agencies, has successfully prosecuted several large-scale gang, drug, murder, and public corruption cases in these communities.