Colorado U.S. Attorney Creates New Cybercrime and National Security Unit
Unit to be staffed with experts in cyber-enabled crimes and national security cases
DENVER – Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer announced today the creation of a new unit in the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division: The Cybercrime and National Security Section. This section will be staffed with six Assistant United States Attorneys who are experts in investigating and prosecuting cyber-enabled crimes and national security cases.
In addition to already having several cyber specialists, a national security cyber coordinator, and an anti-terrorism coordinator, the office created a Digital Currency Crimes Coordinator to address the emerging threat of criminals using digital currency and dark-net forums to commit serious crime that is difficult to track using traditional investigative techniques. Because of the ground-breaking work that the office has done in that area as well as other areas of cybercrime, it was recently awarded a cyber-dedicated Assistant U.S. Attorney. With that new position and because of the creation of this specialized section, this office will be in an even better position to respond to new, and ever more serious threats in the areas of cybercrime and national security.
The creation of this section will allow the office to build on the excellent work it has already been doing in cybercrime and national security cases. It will continue to investigate and prosecute cases targeting hacking, ransomware, network intrusions, denial of service attacks, economic espionage and trade secret theft, dark-net crime, national security cybercrime, counter-proliferation and export-control offenses, digital currency enabled crime, and child exploitation crimes. The office has investigated and prosecuted several such high-profile cybercrime cases including U.S. v. Rezendez, a prosecution involving a large-scale distributed denial of service attack; U.S. v. Bourret, et al., a computer intrusion case involving almost two million online accounts; U.S. v. Snowden, a prosecution involving economic espionage and trade secrets theft; U.S. v. Hugo, a production of child pornography case involving several children; U.S. v. Salias, a production of child pornography case involving an infant; and U.S. v. Holt et al., a prosecution involving a man and woman who sexually exploited three children. The section will also continue to expand its investigations and prosecutions of national security and terrorism matters as reflected in the good work it has already done in cases such as U.S. v. Conley, which involved a Colorado woman who met an ISIS fighter online and attempted to travel to Syria and provide support to the terrorist group; U.S. v. Ansberry, in which the defendant is charged for attempting to use an explosive device to destroy the Nederland Police Department; and U.S. v. Worku, which involved the investigation, prosecution, and trial of a convicted war criminal for visa fraud.
Statistics demonstrate the critical need for this new section. This District has increased its investigations and prosecutions into hacking and other cybercrimes by 20 percent over the last two years. Since 2014, there has been a 40 percent increase in child exploitation cases prosecuted. The largest increase was seen in cases involving the production of child pornography, Since 2012 there has been a 500 percent increase in child pornography production cases prosecuted in the District, many involving children who are toddlers and infants. In addition, nationally, since 1998 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) Cyber Tipline received 12.7 million reports, with 4.4 million coming in to the center in 2015 alone. NCMEC has reviewed 172 million images, and has identified more than 10,900 child victims.
Also, the office have prosecuted 16 individuals since 2014 for Bitcoin/Digital Currency crimes. Investigations aided by this section has also led to 9 individuals being prosecuted by foreign governments, and 6 to 10 individuals being prosecuted by state authorities.
“Cybercrime and national security crimes are increasingly urgent threats in the District of Colorado,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “This is what we do: identify emerging threats that we can effectively address, and fluidly deploy an elite team to meet the threat.”
The unit will also continue to build on the good working relationships it enjoys not only with our law enforcement partners, but with private industry. It will continue to conduct outreach and training to both law enforcement and private industry to solicit collaboration on cybercrime prevention and reporting. Cyber prosecutors in the office already regularly participate in numerous speaking engagements each year, and will continue to do so.