The Criminal Division is responsible for all criminal investigations and prosecutions of federal crimes within the 23 counties that comprise the Middle District of Alabama. Prosecutors in the Division work hand-in-hand with all federal law enforcement agencies, including special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the United States Marshals Service (USMS), United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Service, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The types of crimes handled by Assistant United States Attorneys within the Division include serious drug offenses involving drug trafficking organizations and physicians illegally prescribing controlled substances, primarily opioids, firearms offenses, terrorism offenses, financial fraud, mail and wire fraud, health care fraud, money laundering, bank fraud, bank robbery, identity theft, child pornography, human trafficking, immigration violations, counterfeiting, public corruption, civil rights violations, and crimes on military installations such as Maxwell Air Force Base and Ft. Rucker. Assistant United States Attorneys within the Criminal Division are also responsible for the administration of special programs of the Department of Justice, including Project Safe Neighborhoods, Project Safe Childhood, and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Designated AUSAs are also responsible for the Middle District’s anti-terrorism efforts, asset forfeiture proceedings, criminal appeals, and collateral proceedings arising from successful criminal prosecutions.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
The Middle District of Alabama has an active Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program (also known as Alabama ICE – Isolate the Criminal Element), which is led by an AUSA in the Criminal Division. PSN is a Department of Justice nationwide initiative that brings together federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and community leaders to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. The PSN AUSA provides training to state and local law enforcement officers throughout the District and convenes weekly meetings at which state and local officers present possible cases to the office for discussion of whether they merit federal prosecution. Generally, the focus is on prosecuting the most dangerous criminals in a community such as gang members and prior violent offenders.
Project Safe Childhood
The Middle District of Alabama also has an active Project Safe Childhood (PSC) program, which is led by an AUSA in the Criminal Division. Project Safe Childhood is a Department of Justice nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. PSC brings together federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. The PSN AUSA conducts training of law enforcement officers throughout the District and handles most of the child pornography, as well as human trafficking, cases for the District
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) are the keystones of the Attorney General’s strategy to reduce the availability of illicit narcotics throughout the United States using a prosecutor-led, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime.
OCEDTF AUSAs handle complex investigations and prosecutions of the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States. OCDETF prosecutors and agents use all means of investigation to disrupt and dismantle large drug organizations, including frequently seeking and obtaining Title III wiretap authorizations.
The Middle District of Alabama coordinates with all federal agencies to combat both domestic and international terrorism. In conjunction with the Joint Terrorism Taskforce (JTTF), prosecutors review a wide variety of cases working to investigate and prosecute all terrorism and national security related threats to the Middle District. Anti-terrorism prosecutors stay abreast of developing domestic and international threats working to disrupt terrorist acts before they cause harm.
Asset Forfeiture Unit
The Asset Forfeiture Unit in the MDAL is primarily responsible for applying federal forfeiture laws to separate criminals and their associates from their ill- gotten gains and property used by criminals in committing crimes, such as guns and computers. The Forfeiture AUSA and support staff in the unit pursue all civil forfeiture matters and cases, and assist Criminal Division AUSAs with forfeiture-related issues in their criminal prosecutions. Assets recovered as a result of the efforts of the Asset Forfeiture Unit are used to fund federal, state, and local law enforcement activities to the extent permitted by federal law and, in appropriate cases, to provide restitution to victims of criminal activity.
Generally, with some few exceptions, the Criminal Appellate Chief handles all appeals arising from criminal prosecutions in the District. The Appellate Chief develops the appellate strategy on cases, in consultation with management and Criminal Appellate at the Department, when necessary, and briefs and argues the cases before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Additional duties include reading and summarizing important decisions from the Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit for Criminal Division AUSAs; reporting adverse decisions to the Department, when required; assisting Criminal Division AUSAs with their motions practice and other pleadings in the district court; providing training to the Criminal Division on new appellate decisions and potential appellate issues; and writes responses and represents the government at hearings in 28 U.S.C. § 2255 proceedings.