The Criminal Division is the largest of the District's divisions. Assistant United States Attorneys in this Division work closely with agents and officers from a variety of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute individuals and organizations who violate the federal criminal laws. Supervised by the Criminal Division Chief who is presently stationed in Beaumont, Texas, the Criminal Division has over 40 prosecutors stationed in Beaumont, Lufkin, Tyler, Texarkana, Plano and Sherman. There are Supervisory Assistant United States Attorneys in the Sherman, Beaumont, Tyler, and Plano offices. All offices emphasize prosecuting cases that are consistent with the prosecutorial priorities established by the Attorney General of the United States. Typically Eastern District prosecutors work in the following areas:
Most of the district's AUSAs are assigned to the general crimes section. Within this group, dedicated prosecutors address a diverse array of federal crimes, such as violations of the nation's immigration laws, basic narcotic- trafficking crimes, and child pornography. AUSAs in this section also prosecute violent crimes such as bank robbery kidnapping, and carjacking. The violent crimes prosecutors work closely with the Project Safe Neighborhoods and Project Safe Childhood sections (described below). Additionally, two large federal prison complexes are located within the Eastern District, and attorneys in the general crimes section, particularly in the Beaumont Division’s Capital Crimes Unit, prosecute the numerous crimes committed in these facilities.
The Project Safe Neighborhoods program attacks gun-and-drug-related violent crime. Beginning in May 2000, the PSN program dramatically increasing the number of gun-crimes prosecutions. Since then, the program has evolved to meet the changing needs of the District, combing aggressive prosecution with effective incentives, like GangStop, designed to address particulate needs in our communities. In October 2009, the District launched Operation Time Machine, a data-driven, local and federal law enforcement partnership focused on reducing violent gun crime in Port Arthur, Texas. Today, the PSN program is actively building on the success of Operation Time Machine in Port Arthur and working toward a safer future for everyone in the Eastern District of Texas.
Project Safe Childhood is a national initiative designed to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet. In addition, Eastern District of Texas AUSAs have successfully assisted local partners to apply for and receive COPs grants which have significantly enhanced our ability to fight this particular contagion of child abuse.
The Eastern District’s Project Safe Childhood program has been at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting individuals who commit offenses involving child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism, commercial sexual exploitation. In addition to successful investigations and prosecutions, Project Safe Childhood attorneys are actively involved in community-outreach projects, educating the general public about the dangers sexual predators pose on the Internet and other cyber-issues facing our children today.
Major drug pipelines linking the Southwest border region to the rest of the nation, cross our district, which includes east-west Interstates 10, 20, and 30 and north-south U.S. Highways 59, 69, and 75 and Interstates 45 and 35. In response, the Eastern District of Texas employs seven AUSAs who are committed to developing and prosecuting significant Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) cases which target entrenched and profitable drug-distribution organizations that are located not just in east Texas, but all over the United States as well as in Mexico and Colombia. These complex investigations focus on major drug-trafficking organizations operating throughout the Western Hemisphere. Achieving excellence and dealing hard blows to cartel elements is of the highest priority for the district.
The District’s OCDETF AUSAs are also engaged in addressing drug enterprises operating in communities in the District. They have aggressively attacked organizations and individuals who manufacture, distribute, and consume methamphetamine The District is also an active participant in the Dallas-based High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiative, which includes Denton and Collin Counties, as well as the Houston HIDTA which includes the counties of the District’s Golden Triangle Area.
Economic crimes fall under a number of different categories, including mortgage fraud, corporate fraud, financial institution fraud, identity theft, bankruptcy fraud, health care fraud, securities fraud, public corruption, government program fraud, money laundering, and computer-related crimes. These crimes are marked by the complexity of the investigations and prosecutions and the financial harm to the victims. The AUSAs who investigate economic crimes are experienced prosecutors who are able to analyze the fraudulent activity, use every effort to recover that which was taken from victims, and ensure that the person responsible is brought to justice. Whether the criminal is a public official robbing the public of its right to honest services, a sophisticated computer hacker, or a swindler who takes advantage of gullible investors, the district's white collar/fraud AUSAs decisively address that criminal with effective law enforcement techniques.
AUSAs in this section also coordinate with law enforcement and regulatory agencies to develop successful strategies for the prevention and timely reporting of economic crimes. For example, our Plano AUSAs chair a mortgage fraud task force and regularly meet with attorneys and investigators from the Security and Exchange Commission and Texas State Securities Board.
Forfeiting the proceeds and instrumentalities of illegal activity is a key tool in dismantling criminal enterprises, deterring future crime, and restoring losses to victims. In every investigation, AUSAs in the Eastern District analyze the evidence necessary to prove the government's case and conduct a parallel financial analysis to determine whether anyone has financially profited from illegal conduct. When appropriate, AUSAs use the federal forfeiture statutes to ensure that crime does not pay.
The District has an active Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC), which is comprised of over 200 law enforcement officials, emergency first responders and officials, and others. This cooperative of state and federal officials serves to lessen the vulnerabilities within the District's infrastructure and works vigorously to prevent terrorists' activities. Job #1 for the Eastern District of Texas is protection of our homeland. Every single day, assigned AUSAs review appropriate intelligence and work with the FBI and ICE agents to ensure that east Texans are safe.
The District recognizes that any appeal carries the potential to change the law, and thus it strives for a consistently excellent work product by our attorneys in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The District has a dedicated Appellate Section consisting of an appellate chief, three AUSAs, and a paralegal who is licensed to practice law.