The Criminal Division is responsible for prosecuting cases arising from a vast array of federal criminal offenses. To build their cases, Assistant U.S. Attorneys work closely with all of the federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, as well as the offices of inspector general of the various federal agencies and executive branch departments. Prosecutors also coordinate their efforts with the Virginia Attorney General and Commonwealth Attorney’s Offices throughout the Eastern District of Virginia to use every tool available to protect the public, enforce the law and deter crime.
National Security Unit
The National Security Unit is charged with carrying out the Department of Justice’s highest priority: to protect the United States from threats to our national security by pursuing justice through criminal law enforcement.
The National Security Unit investigates and prosecutes cases of international and domestic terrorism, export control violations, espionage, unlawful disclosure of classified information, threats against high-ranking public officials, non-terrorist extraterritorial violent crimes against American citizens, immigration violations, and other sensitive matters that implicate national security. In addition to working with substantive criminal statutes, prosecutors in the Unit also have significant expertise in national security wiretaps under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the management of classified information under the Classified Information Procedures Act.
Long known for its expertise in espionage and terrorism cases, the Office leverages strong relationships with the intelligence and defense community, including agencies within the District such as the FBI, Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial Agency, and many others.
Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit
In light of the recent economic crisis, prosecuting financial crimes is a high priority for the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia has made strategic shifts in detecting, disrupting, and deterring fraud.
The Office is aggressively pursuing fraud cases of national impact within the District using several unique venue options. In addition, the Office has created the Virginia Financial and Securities Fraud Task Force, which is an unprecedented partnership between criminal investigators and civil regulators equipped to build complex fraud cases with victims throughout the country. This unified approach has been mirrored within the Office as well, as criminal and civil attorneys are investigating fraud targets simultaneously to determine whether a criminal or a civil tool is the best approach in a particular case.
Public corruption has also been a focal point of the U.S. Attorney’s office in recent years. Covering the capital of Virginia and the residences of many of the nation’s lawmakers, the Eastern District of Virginia plays an integral role in ensuring that those who hold public office live up to the public’s trust.
Prosecutors within the Major Crimes Unit develop cases against a broad range of criminal activity, largely focused on violent crime, gangs, and human trafficking within the Eastern District of Virginia. The Office is committed to engagement in Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime. The Office is an active participant of a human trafficking task force in northern Virginia and is proactively investigating allegations of sex trafficking of minors and adults through various prostitution rings, gangs, and massage parlors. The initiative also works to identify victims of labor trafficking to ensure that vulnerable immigrants are not exploited by their employers.
The Narcotics Unit focuses on the prosecution of complex drug-trafficking organizations, both international and domestic. The Unit is particularly focused on decreasing the spread of opioids throughout the District by targeting every link in the opioid supply chain, from street-level and wholesale distributors of heroin and fentanyl, to transnational opioid importers, to doctors and other medical professionals who illegally prescribe opioids and other prescription drugs. Narcotics Unit prosecutors also pursue international drug cartels, narco-terrorists, money launderers, racketeers, and domestic drug dealers that utilize firearms and violence as part of their crimes.
The Unit works with a variety of federal law enforcement agencies, including the DEA, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The Unit also partners closely with local law enforcement agencies in order to have the greatest impact on the local communities of northern Virginia. Finally, the Unit works closely with the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task forces to bring to bear all resources against those who harm the community by trafficking in narcotics.
The Cybercrime Unit is responsible for combating computer intrusion, child pornography, and intellectual property crimes committed in or otherwise affecting the Eastern District of Virginia. Prosecutors in the Unit frequently work with investigators, other government agencies, victims, and foreign counterparts to bring and/or investigate criminal violations in a variety of subject areas, which usually involve the Internet. Such cases range from large scale copyright infringement to hard goods counterfeiting to software piracy to trade secret theft; production, distribution, and receipt of images and videos of the sexual abuse of children; online enticement of minors by predators to engage in sexual activity; and the use of computers to commit fraud and other offenses.
An integral part of the Department’s Project Safe Childhood program, the Cybercrime Unit has regularly works directly with the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. In recent years, Unit prosecutors have been involved in a number of joint operations with the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section and have been at the forefront of the Department’s efforts to combat intellectual property theft in the United States and around the world.
The Specials Unit consists of attorneys on detail and loan from the Department of Justice and other federal agencies, who work under the direction of two supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorneys. This Unit handles all of the Alexandria Division’s traffic cases and misdemeanors, as well as a wide variety of general and major felony cases. In addition, attorneys in the Specials Unit also staff many of the preliminary proceedings for the office’s felony cases, including initial appearances and detention hearings.