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 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 of the Department.
- Supervise a wide range of criminal investigations and prosecutions, including international and national drug trafficking and money laundering organizations; international organized crime groups; corrupt public officials; human rights violators; domestic and international child exploitation enterprises; domestic and international hackers; and individuals and organizations responsible for financial fraud and misconduct.
- Approve and oversee the use of the most sophisticated investigative authorities in the federal arsenal, including reviewing all federal electronic surveillance requests in criminal cases and authorizing participation in the Witness Security Program.
- Advise the Attorney General and other senior leadership within the Executive Branch on matters of criminal law.
- Coordinate with foreign countries to secure the return of fugitives and obtain evidence and other assistance from abroad, and assure that the United States meets its reciprocal obligations to treaty partners.
- Formulate and implement criminal enforcement policy and provide advice and assistance to all levels of the law enforcement community, including providing training to federal, state, and local prosecutors and investigative agencies.
- Provide training and development assistance to foreign criminal justice systems.
The Division’s major responsibilities include:
- Public integrity – Identifying, investigating, and prosecuting corrupt government officials; providing expertise, guidance, and instruction to law enforcement agents and prosecutors on matters involving corruption; and ensuring that sensitive public corruption and election crime matters are handled in a uniform, consistent, and appropriate manner across the country.
- Human rights and special prosecutions – Investigating and prosecuting cases related to human rights violations, international violent crime, and complex immigration crimes; pursuing the U.S. Government’s commitment to holding accountable human rights violators and war criminals, both as a domestic law enforcement imperative and as a contribution to the global effort to end impunity.
- Fraud - Investigating and prosecuting sophisticated and multi-district white-collar crimes including corporate, securities, and investment fraud, government program and procurement fraud, health care fraud, and international criminal violations including the bribery of foreign government officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
- Child exploitation - Prosecuting high-impact cases involving online child pornography, the online grooming and inducement of children by sexual predators, sex trafficking of children, travel abroad by U.S. citizens and residents to sexually abuse foreign children (sex tourism), and enforcement of sex offender registration laws; providing forensic assistance to federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents in investigating and prosecuting violations of federal criminal statutes criminalizing child exploitation; coordinating nationwide operations targeting child predators; and developing policy and legislative proposals related to these issues.
- Computer crime and intellectual property crime - Working to prevent and respond to criminal cyber attacks; improving the domestic and international laws to most effectively prosecute computer and IP criminals; and directing multi-district and transnational cyber investigations and prosecutions.
- Narcotics and dangerous drugs - Combating domestic and international drug trafficking and narco-terrorism; drawing on available intelligence to prosecute individuals and criminal organizations posing the most significant drug trafficking threat to the United States; enforcing laws that criminalize the extraterritorial manufacture or distribution of controlled substances intended for the United States; and facilitating the provision of targeted intelligence support to DEA and other law enforcement agencies worldwide.
- Organized crime – Overseeing the Department’s program to combat organized crime by: investigating and prosecuting nationally and internationally significant organized crime organizations and gangs; exercising approval authority over all proposed federal prosecutions under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) and Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR) statutes; supporting criminal 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; and contributing to the development of policy and legislation relating to numerous organized crime-related issues, including gambling and human trafficking.
- Sensitive investigative techniques - Overseeing the use of the most sophisticated investigative tools at the Department’s disposal; reviewing federal electronic and video surveillance requests; authorizing participation in the Federal Witness Security Program; 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, and 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.
- International affairs - Making all requests for international extraditions and for foreign evidence on behalf of federal, state, and local prosecutors and investigators; satisfying foreign requests for fugitives and evidence located in the U.S.; negotiating and implementing law enforcement treaties; providing guidance to prosecutors and investigators on legal and policy issues arising in sensitive transnational investigations; and providing critical advice to the Attorney General and other principals of the Department on matters involving international law enforcement cooperation and comparative criminal law and practice.
- Assistance to foreign law enforcement institutions (police and corrections) - Supporting the creation and development of new and existing police forces in other countries and international peacekeeping operations; enhancing the capabilities of existing police forces in emerging democracies; strengthening U.S. national security by assisting nations that are on the front lines of the war on terrorism, and 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.
- Policy and legislation - Serving as subject matter experts in all matters relating to criminal law and using that expertise to develop legislative and policy proposals to enhance our ability to fight crime; serving as the Department representative to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
- Appeals - Drafting 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 criminal decisions in the district courts and courts of appeals; and preparing briefs and arguing cases in the courts of appeals.
- Capital cases - Advising on factual and legal issues relevant to capital eligible cases and decisions to seek the death penalty; providing legal, procedural, and policy guidance and direct litigation support to United States Attorney’s Offices handling capital investigations and prosecutions.
- Money laundering and asset recovery - Pursuing criminal prosecutions against financial institutions and individuals engaged in money laundering, Bank Secrecy Act, and sanctions violations; pursuing the proceeds of high level foreign corruption through the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative; developing legislative, regulatory, and policy initiatives to combat global illicit finance; returning forfeited criminal proceeds to benefit those harmed by crime through remission and restoration processes; and providing legal and policy assistance and training to federal, state, and local prosecutors and law enforcement personnel, as well as to foreign governments.