The Criminal Division was created by Attorney General Palmer in his reorganization of the Department of Justice in 1919.
The mission of the Criminal Division is to serve the public interest through the development and enforcement of criminal statutes in a vigorous, fair, and effective manner; and to exercise general supervision over the enforcement of all federal criminal laws, with the exception of those statutes specifically assigned to the Antitrust, Civil Rights, Environment and Natural Resources, or Tax Divisions.
The major functions of the Division are to:
- Develop, enforce, and supervise the application of all federal criminal laws, except those specifically assigned to other divisions.
- Litigate and coordinate a wide range of prosecutions and criminal investigations, including those targeting individuals and organizations that commit or attempt to commit terrorist acts at home or against U.S. persons or interests abroad or assist in the financing of or providing support to those acts; international and national drug trafficking and money laundering systems or organizations; and organized crime groups.
- Formulate and implement criminal enforcement policy and provide advice and assistance to all levels of the law enforcement community.
- Approve or monitor sensitive areas of law enforcement such as participation in the Witness Security Program and the use of electronic surveillance.
- Advise the Attorney General, Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and the White House on matters of criminal law.
- Provide legal advice, assistance, and training to federal, state, and local prosecutors and investigative agencies.
- Provide leadership for coordinating international and national law enforcement matters.
- Provide training and development assistance to foreign criminal justice systems.
The Divisionís major responsibilities include:
- Counterterrorism - overseeing a coordinated, streamlined, national counterterrorism enforcement program, including participation in complex counterterrorism prosecutions; development and implementation of counterterrorism strategies, legislation, and initiatives, such as full implementation of the Attorney General's National Security Investigative Guidelines, the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council program, and the Deputy Attorney General’s Interim Guidance on Terrorism Matters; investigating and prosecuting terrorist financing and material support cases; establishing and maintaining an essential communication network between Department of Justice and United States Attorneys’ Offices for the rapid transmission of information on terrorism threats and investigative and prospective activity; providing training to prosecutors and investigators regarding cutting edge tactics, substantive law, policies and procedures; and serving as trusted liaisons to the intelligence, defense, and immigration communities and foreign government partners on counterterrorism issues and cases.
- Domestic security - developing and overseeing comprehensive national strategies aimed at reducing gun violence; targeting international alien smuggling criminal organizations; and enforcing the federal criminal laws relating to violent crime, the illegal use of firearms and explosives, and alien smuggling and other immigration-related offenses.
- Counterespionage, including cases affecting national security, foreign relations, and the export of military and strategic commodities and technology.
- Fraud - investigating and prosecuting sophisticated and multi-district white-collar crimes that encompass corporate, securities, and investment fraud, financial institution and insurance fraud, government program and procurement fraud, and international criminal activities including the bribery of foreign government officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
- Appellate work, including preparing draft briefs and certiorari petitions for the Solicitor General for filing in the U.S. Supreme Court; making recommendations to the Solicitor General as to whether further review is warranted on adverse decisions in the district courts and courts of appeals; preparing briefs and arguing cases in the courts of appeals; and briefing/arguing motions in district courts in cases of national importance.
- Child exploitation and obscenity, including conducting high-impact prosecutions and providing prosecutorial and forensic assistance to federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents in investigating and prosecuting violators of federal criminal statutes relating to the production, distribution, receipt, or possession of child pornography; selling, buying, or transporting children to engage in illicit sexual conduct, including child prostitution; traveling interstate or internationally to sexually abuse children, including child sex tourism; abusing children on federal and Indian lands; transporting obscene materials in interstate or foreign commerce; international parental abduction; and developing policy and legislative proposals related to these areas.
- Computer crime and intellectual property crime, including prevention of and
response to cyberattacks on critical information systems (including cyberterrorism),
improving the domestic and international laws and operational capacity to pursue
computer and IP criminals most effectively, and directing multi-district, and
multi-national online investigations and prosecutions.
- Asset forfeiture and money laundering, including the prosecution of complex, sensitive multi-district and international cases; formulating policy, developing legislation and regulations, and conducting training in the money laundering and forfeiture areas to ensure the uniform application of and promote the use of forfeiture and money laundering statutes nationwide; participating in bilateral and multilateral initiatives, providing legislative drafting assistance to foreign countries, and negotiating international forfeiture sharing agreements to help establish the global framework needed to dismantle money laundering havens and remove impediments to pursuing forfeitures internationally; adjudicating petitions for remission or mitigation of forfeited assets; and adjudicating the distribution of forfeited funds and properties to appropriate domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies and community groups within the United States and ensuring that such agencies comply with proper usage of received funds.
- Narcotics and dangerous drugs, including enforcing statutes pertaining to controlled substances; developing and implementing domestic and international narcotics law enforcement policies and programs; developing and administering other cooperative drug enforcement strategies, such as the Bilateral Case Initiative, a program under which attorneys prosecute the most significant international narcotics trafficking organizations, and projects conducted by the law enforcement and intelligence communities.
- Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program - combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies - the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Internal Revenue Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and the U.S. Coast Guard – in cooperation with the Tax Division, the 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices, and state and local law enforcement, to identify, disrupt, and dismantle major drug supply and money laundering organizations through coordinated, nationwide investigations targeting the entire infrastructure of these enterprises.
- Organized Crime and Racketeering Section – oversees the Department’s program to combat organized crime by: supervising the investigation and prosecution of all federal organized crime cases by 21 Strike Force Units within U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country, including prosecutions of La Cosa Nostra, Eurasian Organized Crime, Asian Organized Crime, Balkan Organized Crime, Italian Organized Crime and violent street gangs; exercising approval authority over all proposed federal prosecutions under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) and Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (VCAR) statutes; advising and assisting on criminal investigations and prosecutions of federal crimes involving labor-management disputes, the internal affairs of labor unions in the private sector, and the operation of employee pension and welfare benefit plans; working with U.S. intelligence agencies and U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies to identify, target, and investigate transnational organized crime groups; contributing to the development of policy and legislation relating to numerous organized crime-related issues, including gambling and human trafficking.
- Public Integrity - maintaining a collection of experienced, specialized, public corruption prosecutors, actively litigating cases where United States Attorneys’ Offices are precluded; identifying and tackling pervasive corruption; providing expertise, guidance, and instruction to law enforcement agents and prosecutors; and insuring that sensitive public corruption and election crime matters are handled in a uniform, consistent, and appropriate manner nationwide.
- Enforcement - overseeing the use of the most sophisticated investigative tools at the Department’s disposal; reviewing virtually all federal electronic surveillance requests and requests to apply for court orders permitting the use of video surveillance; authorizing or denying the entry of applicants into the Federal Witness Security Program (WSP) and coordinating and administering matters relating to all aspects of the WSP among all program components; and reviewing requests for witness immunity, transfers of prisoners to and from foreign countries to serve the remainder of their prison sentences, attorney and press subpoenas, applications for S-Visa status, the imposition of special administrative measures to further restrict the confinement conditions of certain very dangerous persons in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, and disclosure of grand jury information.
- Policy and legislation - developing legislative proposals, and reviewing pending legislation affecting the federal criminal justice system; reviewing and developing proposed changes to the federal sentencing guidelines and federal rules; and researching and analyzing crime data and criminal justice policy and program issues.
- Special investigations - since its creation in 1979, the Office of Special Investigations has been responsible for detecting, investigating, and taking legal action to denaturalize and/or deport persons who took part in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution committed abroad during the period 1933-45 and, since December 2004, also for detecting, investigating, and taking legal action to denaturalize persons who participated abroad in acts of genocide or in acts of torture or extrajudicial killings committed under color of foreign law.
- International affairs, including making all requests for international extradition and foreign evidence on behalf of federal, state, and local prosecutors and investigators, fulfilling foreign requests for fugitives and evidence, and negotiating and implementing law enforcement treaties, providing guidance to prosecutors and investigators on legal and policy issues arising in transnational investigations, and advising the Attorney General and other principals of the Department on matters involving international law enforcement cooperation and comparative criminal law and practice.
- Overseas prosecutorial development, assistance, and training for prosecutors and judicial personnel in other countries to develop and sustain democratic criminal justice institutions.
- Development assistance to foreign law enforcement institutions (police and corrections), including the creation/reform of new/existing police forces in international peacekeeping operations and nations in post-conflict; the enhancement of capabilities of existing police forces in emerging democracies; and assistance to nations that are on the front lines of the war on terrorism. The technical assistance and training provided strengthens U.S. national security by creating sustainable foreign law enforcement institutions that promote democratic principles, instill respect for human rights and human dignity, and reduce the threat of transnational crime and terrorism.
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