Participants And Roles

The Justice Asset Forfeiture Program includes activity by DOJ components and several components outside the Department.

Illustration shows emblems for agencies associated with the Asset Forfeiture Program


Asset Forfeiture Program Roles

Each component plays an important role in the Program.

Department of Justice Components

Asset Forfeiture Management Staff (AFMS): Has responsibility for management of the Assets Forfeiture Fund, the Consolidated Asset Tracking System (CATS), program-wide contracts, oversight of program internal controls and property management, interpretation of the Assets Forfeiture Fund statute, approval of unusual Fund uses, and legislative liaison on matters affecting the financial integrity of the Program.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) enforces the federal laws and regulations relating to alcohol, tobacco, firearms, explosives and arson by working directly and in cooperation with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. ATF has the authority to seize and forfeit firearms, ammunition, explosives, alcohol, tobacco, currency, conveyances and certain real property involved in violation of law.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) implements major investigative strategies against drug networks and cartels. Enforcement operations have resulted in significant seizure and forfeiture activity. A significant portion of DEA cases are adopted from state and local law enforcement agencies.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigates a broad range of criminal violations, integrating the use of asset forfeiture into its overall strategy to eliminate targeted criminal enterprises. The FBI has successfully used asset forfeiture in White Collar Crime, Organized Crime, Drug, Violent Crime and Terrorism investigations.

Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) of the Criminal Division holds the responsibility of coordination, direction, and general oversight of the Program. MLARS handles civil and criminal litigation, provides legal support to the U.S. Attorneys' Offices, establishes policy and procedure, coordinates multi-district asset seizures, administers equitable sharing of assets, acts on petitions for remission, coordinates international forfeiture and sharing and develops training seminars for all levels of government.

Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) is an independent component of the U.S. Department of Justice.  Established in 1982, OCDETF is the keystone of the Attorney General’s strategy to reduce the availability of illicit narcotics throughout the United States using a prosecutor-led, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime.  

United States Marshals Service (USMS) as the primary custodian of seized property for the Program. USMS manages and disposes of the majority of the property seized for forfeiture. See their Seized Asset Information page and their National Sellers List for more information.

United States Attorneys' Offices (USAO) are responsible for the prosecution of both criminal and civil actions against property used or acquired during illegal activity.

Components Outside the Department of Justice

There are several organizations outside the Department of Justice who participate in the DOJ Asset Forfeiture Program. This list may change as additional agencies and offices become part of the DOJ program. These agencies participate in Judicial forfeitures only.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations has made seizures involving health care fraud schemes, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, illegal distribution of adulterated foods, and product tampering.

Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is the criminal investigative arm of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense. The mission of DCIS is to protect America’s War fighters by conducting investigations and forfeitures in support of crucial National Defense priorities that include homeland security/terrorism, product substitution, contract fraud, public corruption, computer crimes, and illegal technology transfers. "

Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security Services (DSS) investigates passport and visa fraud and integrates asset forfeiture into our strategy to target the profits made by vendors who provide fraudulent documentation or others who utilize fraudulent visas and/or passports to further their criminal enterprises.

United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General (USDA) Office of Inspector General's (OIG) mission is to promote effectiveness and integrity in the delivery of USDA agricultural programs. Forfeiture is integrated as an important law enforcement tool in combating criminal activity affecting USDA programs.

United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) makes seizures under their authority to discourage profit-motivated crimes such as mail fraud, money laundering and drug trafficking using the mail.


Updated December 16, 2020

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