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Special Prosecutionsterrorism

Shelley Hicks
Deputy Chief

This section consists of a group of some of the most experienced, seasoned and talented AUSAs in the office, charged with developing and prosecuting some of the district’s most sophisticated and high-profile cases in the areas of terrorism and national security, public corruption, export control and environmental crimes. Additionally, the section is often tasked to handle special projects and cases as selected by the United States Attorney.

AUSAs who handle Anti-Terrorism matters are a group of specialized prosecutors who work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement officers assigned to Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) located in Houston and McAllen. In an attempt to prevent the occurrence of terrorist activity in the SDTX and elsewhere, AUSAs assigned to this group investigate and prosecute individuals with known links to international and domestic terrorism. They also prosecute special interest aliens, alien smugglers and persons involved in the illegal and unlawful exportation of prohibited technology. Perpetrators of elaborate hoaxes who threaten innocent people with the use of weapons of mass destruction are also prosecuted by our AUSAs.

The Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC) leverages the information it acquires from the Counter Terrorism Section at Main Justice, the JTTF and DHS to actively coordinate and disseminate information to ATAC partners made up of federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as representatives from private industry and critical infrastructure throughout the district. The ATAC holds regularly scheduled meetings that address the most current terroristic threats and concerns and members receive bi-weekly intelligence summaries and special bulletins. ATAC also provides training to its partners and sends prosecutors to universities and community organizations to make presentations on the USA PATRIOT Act and other Anti-Terrorism laws. This district’s ATAC has been recognized by Main Justice and other USAOs as a model to be used by ATACs around the country.

AUSAs assigned to handle Public Corruption cases are responsible for the investigation and prosecution of public officials, employees and others involved in activities constituting an abuse of public office or corrupt practices. The types of cases handled by these AUSAs include drug trafficking and alien smuggling by law enforcement officials, misuse of grant funds by the grantee, extortion and bribery.

The Child Exploitation Unit is tasked to carry out the Attorney General’s national anti-child exploitation crime strategy through Project Safe Childhood. Federal statutes relating to child pornography and the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children and those who fail to register as sex offenders are prosecuted by attorneys assigned to this unit.

The final area of specialized prosecutions is Environmental Enforcement. AUSAs in this highly regulated and technical area of the law prosecute persons engaged in the release of hazardous waste into U.S. waterways, the illegal transportation of hazardous waste, and violations of the laws protecting endangered species.

 

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