The Criminal Division of the U. S. Attorney's Office is the largest of the Office's divisions. AUSAs in the Criminal Division serve in five major units, which operate both separately and collaboratively, on all types of federal criminal cases.
Attorneys in the Criminal Division handle the investigation and prosecution of all types of federal crimes, ranging from petty offenses (including traffic and wildlife offenses) to complex white collar crime, federal homicides, drug trafficking, and public corruption cases.
General Crimes Unit
Prosecutors assigned to this unit work with the spectrum of federal investigative agencies (some twenty-five), including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U. S. Customs Service, U. S. Postal Service, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, U. S. Marshal's Service, U. S. State Department, Secret Service, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), U. S. Department of Agriculture, U. S. Department of Education, U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U. S. Department of Labor/Office of Labor-Management Standards, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Border Patrol, Railroad Retirement Board, Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Small Business Administration, and Social Security Administration (SSA), among others.
The members of this unit routinely handle the investigation and prosecution of a broad range of federal criminal violations, from minor offenses to the complex ones, such as public corruption, credit card fraud, postal thefts, immigration and naturalization offenses, passport fraud, defense procurement fraud, Title 7 food stamp violations, crimes occurring on government property under the assimilated crimes act, Customs violations, money laundering, labor racketeering, and others, to name a few.
The General Crimes Unit is additionally responsible for the prosecution and investigation of civil rights violations, federal elections violations, hate crimes, environmental crimes, child support enforcement, Violence Against Women Act cases, migratory waterfowl violations, and petty offenses.
Financial Crimes Unit
The Financial Crimes Unit participates in the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes of all types, including financial institution crime, health care fraud, bankruptcy fraud, bank fraud, computer fraud, institutional insurance fraud, large scale mail and wire fraud, criminal tax violations, and large "boiler room" fraud operations, among others. Such complex financial crimes typically involve equally complex transactions, requiring long-term investigations which are man-hour and resource intensive. Moreover, members of this unit regularly work with many federal investigative agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Postal Service, SEC, IRS, and others.
Drug & Violent Crimes Unit
Prosecutors in the Drug and Violent Crime Unit work with federal criminal investigators to bring the higher echelons of drug trafficking organizations to justice. The Unit works with task forces of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in applying the most advanced investigative technology available against drug trafficking organizations. These initiatives have resulted in increasingly complex and comprehensive federal prosecutions of narcotics traffickers in the District, which has been designated a Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
The Office has in place an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. OCDETF is one of the first multi-agency enforcement efforts to work in close coordination with federal prosecutors in the investigative stages of major cases involving violent drug gangs. The HIDTA and OCDETF approaches are reflected in cases involving extensive multi-agency investigations which require participation of prosecutors in case development, using wiretaps, telephone tolls, undercover operations, and other investigative techniques unique to federal law enforcement.
Prosecutors in the Drug and Violent Crime Unit continue to work with federal law enforcement agencies and federal task forces to suppress violent crime in the District. Through our Project Safe Neighborhoods program, effective working agreements have been developed with local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. The tough federal statutes and penalties for criminal possession and use of firearms have enabled our office to send some of the District's most violent individuals to prison. In addition, federal prosecutions have been brought against bank robbers, arsonists and others who use violent means to further criminal acts.
The Appeals Unit defends convictions and judgments obtained by the Office in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the federal appellate court overseeing cases in the states of Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, and the court has appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts: Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi, Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Louisiana, and the Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Districts of Texas. Additionally, the Appeals Unit, in consultation with the Department of Justice, decides when to seek appellate review of trial level rulings adverse to the United States.
Asset Forfeiture Unit
The forfeiture of assets derived from drug trafficking and other unlawful activity has traditionally been an important part of the government's arsenal of legal actions against criminal defendants. Since the passage of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, there has been an increase in the forfeiture of assets derived from fraud, including mail, wire and health care fraud.