The Appellate Section handles all appellate litigation before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, from filing briefs to participating in oral arguments. Lawyers for the Appellate Section also advise trial attorneys in litigation in district court, and work with the Department of Justice and the Solicitor General to coordinate potential government appeals, petitions for rehearing en banc, and U.S. Supreme Court litigation arising out of the Southern District.
Major Crimes Section
The Major Crimes Section is the largest section in the Criminal Division and accounts for approximately 95 percent of the cases prosecuted in the Southern District of California. MCS handles a large volume of reactive cases that arise from policing the 141-mile long border between California and Mexico, six Ports of Entry, and the roughly 70 miles of coastline stretching from the U.S.-Mexico border to the northernmost tip of San Diego County. Such cases commonly include illegal entry and reentry, drug importation and smuggling, and alien smuggling prosecutions. MCS also consists of four prosecution teams with specific areas of concentration. One team focuses on violent crimes, firearms, and gang matters. A second focuses on sex trafficking and child exploitation. A third focuses on fraud, border corruption, and civil rights matters. The fourth focuses on drug trafficking (including overdose deaths), alien smuggling resulting in fatalities, and other special prosecutions. MCS attorneys try a large number of cases and also often oversee the use of investigative tools like search and tracking warrants, undercover operations, confidential sources, grand jury investigations, and wiretaps.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Section investigates and prosecutes members of international and domestic drug trafficking and alien smuggling organizations, including Mexican and Colombian drug trafficking organizations and violent gangs. As part of the OCDETF program, a dedicated number of OCDETF prosecutors focus on maritime drug trafficking. OCDETF prosecutors join investigations at the earliest stages, are skilled in leading federal grand jury investigations, and typically use specialized investigative tools such as wiretaps, undercover operations, and search warrants. OCDETF prosecutors regularly participate in multi-district prosecutions, attacking organizations operating throughout the United States and in other countries. The Section works closely with the DEA, FBI, IRS, BATF, the United States Marshals Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Coast Guard, as well as state and local officers.
Major Frauds and Public Corruption Section
The Major Frauds and Public Corruption Section oversees the prosecution of complex fraud and public corruption cases in the Office. The Section is responsible for the prosecution of securities fraud, financial institution fraud, healthcare fraud, tax fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and mortgage fraud matters. Prosecutors in the section also commonly prosecute cases involving corporate embezzlement, insider trading, identity theft, environmental crimes, and select organized crime cases. Due to the concentration of military installations in the District, many of the Section’s cases involve fraud perpetrated on the military in its procurement of goods and services.
The Section also oversees the investigation and prosecution of corrupt elected and appointed officials, government employees, and individuals and companies doing business with public entities. Prosecutors in the Section work closely with the FBI and other federal, state, and local agencies to protect all levels of government from corruption.
The Section hosts six dedicated coordinator positions: the Financial Fraud Enforcement Coordinator; the Health Care Fraud Coordinator; the Mortgage Fraud Coordinator; the Defense Procurement Fraud Coordinator; the Bankruptcy Fraud Coordinator; and one of the Office's Discovery Coordinators.
The Section works in close coordination with the Civil Division, administrative and regulatory agencies such as the SEC, and the Office’s Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit to maximize the impact of prosecutions.
National Security and Cybercrimes Section
The National Security and Cybercrimes Section (NSCS) handles matters involving international and domestic terrorism (including threats and hoaxes), counter-espionage, counter-proliferation (i.e ., violations of law involving exports of military or dual use items, as well as exports to embargoed nations), and cyber intrusions. NSCS works closely with the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Defense Criminal Investigative Services, Secret Service, and the multi-agency Joint Terrorism Task Force, among other law enforcement agencies. NSCS matters are often handled in coordination with the Counterterrorism, Counterespionage, and Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property sections at the Department of Justice. NSCS prosecutors typically become involved at the outset of an investigation and are experienced in managing complex matters, using a wide array of investigative tools, coordinating multi-district and/or international investigations, and navigating novel legal issues.
Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit
The Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit (FFL) recovers assets and property from defendants through forfeiture and restitution statutes. Cases involve a wide range of offenses including fraud, drug trafficking, money laundering, child exploitation, human trafficking, Bank Secrecy Act violations, bank robbery, and other violent crimes. The Unit also handles civil forfeitures and collection of debts owed by defendants through restitution orders, fines, and special assessments. FFL recovers millions of dollars in property and assets annually, a large portion of which is returned to victims.