The Department of Justice (DOJ) Asset Forfeiture Program's (AFP or the Program) mission is to use asset forfeiture as a tool in order to deter, disrupt, and dismantle criminal enterprises by depriving criminals of the instruments of illicit activity. The AFP touches federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement agencies in the country.
The Asset Forfeiture Program’s primary goals are:
- To punish and deter criminal activity by depriving criminals of property used in or acquired through illegal activities.
- To promote and enhance cooperation among federal, state, local, tribal, and foreign law enforcement agencies.
- To recover assets that may be used to compensate victims when authorized under federal law.
- To ensure the Program is administered professionally, lawfully, and in a manner consistent with sound public policy.
To achieve these goals, the Department of Justice uses asset forfeiture to the fullest extent possible to investigate, identify, seize, and forfeit the assets of criminals and their organizations while ensuring that due process rights of all property owners are protected. Asset forfeiture plays a critical role in disrupting and dismantling illegal enterprises, depriving criminals of the proceeds of illegal activity, deterring crime, and restoring property to victims. The effective use of both criminal and civil asset forfeiture is an essential component of the Department’s efforts to combat the most sophisticated criminal actors and organizations—including terrorist financiers, cyber criminals, fraudsters, human traffickers, and transnational drug cartels.
The AFP is funded by the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF or the Fund), which has the statutory authority to support and expand the use of forfeiture sanction throughout the federal law enforcement community. The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-473), codified in 28 U.S.C. § 524(c), established the AFF as a special fund within the Treasury to receive the proceeds of forfeitures.
The statute authorizes the Attorney General to use the Fund to finance expenses associated with the execution of Justice related activities and asset forfeiture functions and, with specific limitations, certain general investigative costs.
Forfeiture is widely recognized as a powerful law enforcement tool for disrupting and dismantling criminal enterprises. The AFP ensures that law enforcement effectiveness remains the paramount consideration of agents and prosecutors in choosing to pursue forfeiture under a national program framework.