EDVA’s Criminal Division is responsible for prosecuting cases arising from a wide array of federal criminal offenses. To build their cases, federal prosecutors (known as Assistant U.S. Attorneys or AUSAs) work closely with EDVA’s federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, as well as the offices of inspector general of federal agencies and Executive Branch departments. Prosecutors also coordinate their efforts with the Virginia Office of the Attorney General and Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Offices throughout EDVA to use every tool available to protect the public, enforce the law, and deter crime.
EDVA’s criminal enforcement priorities include national security, violent crime, cybercrime, financial crime, public corruption, civil rights, and narcotics trafficking. Below are summaries of EDVA’s strategic objectives and priorities in each of these core areas.
Protecting the security interests of the United States
As the home of the Pentagon, CIA, other intelligence agencies, and the nation’s largest Naval base, among many other federal agencies and installations, EDVA plays a critical role in protecting the security interests of the United States. EDVA’s strong partnerships with the FBI, DOJ’s National Security Division, and several military and intelligence community partners have enabled our Office to advance some of the most significant national security prosecutions in the country. Those efforts have included historically prominent cases such as the prosecution of Aldrich Ames, a CIA officer turned KGB double agent; Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent who committed espionage on behalf of Russia and the former Soviet Union; al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, the only individual to have been tried in U.S. civilian federal court in connection with the 9/11 terrorist attacks; and the “ISIS Beatles,” including El Shafee Elsheikh, the highest-ranking fighter for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) to have ever faced a jury trial in the United States. EDVA’s current national security priorities include combating international terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda, confronting domestic terrorism and violent extremism, and responding to espionage and the unlawful disclosure of classified information.
Protecting our communities using targeted and proven law enforcement strategies
EDVA has prioritized efforts to prevent, investigate, and prosecute violent crime in each of our four geographic Divisions. We have emphasized hot-spot strategies by focusing on key areas plagued by violent crime, gang activity, and narcotics trafficking, and we have worked with our law enforcement partners to combat these offenses at the neighborhood level. Our teams also have targeted recidivist activity for federal prosecution by aggressively tackling serial robberies, armed drug trafficking, and gang shootings through coordinated arrests of the most serious violent felons. In addition, as part of DOJ’s Project Safe Neighborhoods, we have engaged in a systematic crackdown on the straw purchase of firearms to reduce the supply of deadly weapons that harm our communities and others.
Disrupting cyber threats, online fraud, and child sexual exploitation
In combating cybercrime threats and cyber-enabled fraud, EDVA targets malicious actors, their organizations, and foreign powers who hack victim accounts and compromise the digital infrastructure that supports our government and private sector, as well as those who utilize encrypted networks and the Dark Web to facilitate criminal activity. These robust efforts include fighting ransomware attacks, malware distribution, business-email-compromise schemes, and online identity theft, as well as combating child exploitation, abuse, and sex trafficking as part of DOJ’s Project Safe Childhood. Likewise, through EDVA’s UnMasked initiative, our community engagement teams have worked to prevent online sexual abuse and sextortion by raising awareness and educating teens and young adults on the potential dangers of online activity.
Fighting fraud and seeking accountability for schemes that harm individuals, businesses, and federal programs
EDVA handles a broad range of white-collar criminal cases, including health care fraud, procurement fraud, corporate crime, securities fraud, telemarketing fraud, and investment scams. EDVA’s Criminal and Civil Divisions have worked aggressively to hold accountable those who have sought to take advantage of the economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including fraudulent applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) loans, as well as state-level unemployment insurance benefits. Likewise, as part of DOJ’s Elder Justice Initiative, EDVA has vigorously pursued fraudsters who have exploited and targeted seniors through investment schemes, identity theft, and online scams. Through our Asset Recovery Unit, EDVA works diligently to forfeit the ill-gotten gains of criminal activity, as well as secure restitution for the victims of financial crimes.
Public Corruption & Civil Rights
Enforcing federal laws enacted to protect the public from corrupt government officials and to secure the individual rights of all people afforded by the U.S. Constitution
EDVA works to ensure that government officials at the federal, state, and local level are held accountable whenever they betray the public’s trust or abuse their authority as public officials or government employees. These actions include soliciting or accepting bribes, undermining the integrity of the government contracting process, improperly accessing or using government information and systems, or facilitating criminal conduct by others both within and outside the government. EDVA is also committed to protecting the constitutional and civil rights of all individuals within our communities, regardless of race, national origin, religion, gender, or other protected characteristics. Across the District, the dedicated members of our Criminal Division’s Civil Rights Team ensure that we prioritize the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, bias-related incidents, domestic violent extremism, forced labor, and alleged law enforcement misconduct, and that we enhance outreach and awareness among impacted communities within EDVA. Our Committee on Race in Prosecution and Policing (CORPP) likewise works to address instances of police brutality; biases, implicit and explicit, in policing and prosecutions involving communities of color; and other issues relating to the intersection of race and law enforcement.
Narcotics Trafficking and Money Laundering
Fighting the opioid epidemic and tackling international and domestic drug trafficking operations
EDVA is a nationwide leader in the prosecution of major domestic and international drug trafficking organizations. EDVA has prosecuted leaders of major Mexican, Central American, and Colombian drug cartels, as well as disrupted the ability of these organizations to utilize the financial system to launder the proceeds of their crimes. EDVA also tackles major domestic drug trafficking organizations, working with its law enforcement partners under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program in pro-active, cross-jurisdictional investigations that dismantle entire organizations and address the most significant drug threats and related violent crime problems facing the communities we serve. EDVA is committed to decreasing the spread of opioids throughout the district by targeting importers, wholesale distributors, darkweb vendors, and doctors who illegally prescribe opioids. These efforts are part of a holistic strategy to reduce opioid abuse, as EDVA actively participates in several ongoing programs and efforts to raise awareness and find solutions to the opioid epidemic. Those partnerships have included medical professionals, treatment providers, victim advocacy groups, and educators all working together with law enforcement and prosecutors to ensure that we take a coordinated approach to the prevention, enforcement, and treatment of substance use disorders.