The Criminal Division oversees some of the most complex and wide-ranging criminal cases brought in federal courts. Below is an overview of the Criminal Division units.
National Security and International Narcotics
The National Security and International Narcotics Unit is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of domestic and international criminal conduct that threatens U.S. national security, including counterterrorism, counterintelligence, sanctions evasion, export control, malign foreign influence, transnational repression, and international narcotics and weapons trafficking matters. The Unit works closely with the Office’s federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New York City Police Department, as well as components across the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force
The Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force investigates and prosecutes crimes relating to the operation of the country’s securities and commodities markets and to fraud on both individual and institutional investors, including all varieties of securities fraud, insider trading, market manipulation schemes, accounting and regulatory reporting frauds, and Ponzi schemes and other investor frauds. The Task Force works in close coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to uncover and prosecute these financial frauds.
Complex Frauds and Cybercrime
The Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit oversees the investigation and prosecution of some of the most sophisticated fraud and cyber cases in the country, many of which are international in scope. The Unit’s fraud cases involve individual and corporate defendants across a wide range of subject areas, including health care fraud, consumer fraud, tax fraud, investment fraud, government contracting fraud, bankruptcy fraud, COVID-19 pandemic fraud, corporate malfeasance, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations. The Unit’s cyber cases involve national security investigations targeting nation-state and nation-state-sponsored actors, cryptocurrency hacks and scams, ransomware, darknet markets, and computer intrusions targeting stolen credentials, financial information, and confidential business information and technology. The Unit works closely with multiple law enforcement partners, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Health & Human Services-OIG, and the New York City Department of Investigation, as well in coordination with other U.S. Government agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division and Criminal Division.
The Public Corruption Unit works, in close partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal, state, and city investigative agencies to maintain and protect the integrity of all levels of government. The Unit oversees the investigation and prosecution of corruption crimes committed by elected and appointed officials, government employees, and individuals and companies doing business with the city, state, and federal government, as well as campaign finance offenses. Corruption crimes investigated by the Unit include bribery, embezzlement, and frauds committed against local, state, and federal government agencies.
Illicit Finance and Money Laundering
The Illicit Finance and Money Laundering Unit aggressively pursues criminal actors, networks, and entities that threaten the integrity of the U.S. financial system through exploiting U.S. financial institutions, broadly defined to include traditional banks as well as formal and informal money transmitters, fintech companies, cryptocurrency exchanges, and broker-dealers. In pursuit of this mission, the Unit focuses on three key areas, each of which implicate significant illicit financial threats, vulnerabilities, and risks facing the United States financial system: (1) Bank Secrecy Act violations; (2) sanctions enforcement; and (3) large-scale international money laundering networks. The supervisors and staff assigned to the Unit also oversee the Office’s forfeiture program, including forfeiture actions and allegations filed in cases across the Criminal Division. In that capacity, the Unit has also pioneered the use of federal forfeiture laws to recover and return stolen art and cultural heritage property.
Violent and Organized Crime
The Violent and Organized Crime Unit investigates and prosecutes violent and sophisticated criminal organizations based in New York City and around the world. By aggressively using the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, cooperating witnesses, and other investigative techniques, the Unit has successfully prosecuted countless leaders and members of notorious criminal enterprises, including nationwide violent gangs like the Bloods, Crips, and Latin Kings; neighborhood-based crews responsible for, among other things, shootings, robberies, drug trafficking, and fraud; La Cosa Nostra, or the Italian mafia; Eastern European and Eurasian criminal enterprises; and Asian and African organized crime. The Unit is dedicated to bringing cases that will have a tangible impact on public safety in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, helping dismantle violent gangs and reduce gun violence in residential neighborhoods. The Unit also investigates and prosecutes unsolved or “cold case” murders, illegal firearms trafficking, labor union corruption, and other racketeering offenses committed by criminal enterprises, including alien smuggling and sophisticated frauds.
The Narcotics Unit is devoted to prosecuting narcotics-related offenses harming our communities locally, nationally, and internationally. The Unit works closely with a variety of federal law enforcement agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and Customs and Border Patrol; local law enforcement agencies, including the New York City Police Department and the New York State Police; and local-federal partnerships, including, notably, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Strike Force and New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, to investigate and prosecute narcotics traffickers fueling the opioid crisis through the distribution of fentanyl and its analogues; dealers who traffic in cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other controlled substances; and those involved in the illegal diversion and distribution prescription painkillers. The Unit maintains a particular focus on the victims of narcotics trafficking, including both the victims of drug poisonings as well as violence perpetrated by drug trafficking organizations. The work of the Unit has led to significant seizures of controlled substances and proceeds from criminal activity, dismantled drug trafficking organizations from neighborhood gangs to international syndicates, interrupted the flow of money enriching large-scale drug traffickers, and rendered justice for victims of drug poisonings and drug-related murders and violence.
The Civil Rights Unit is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of all criminal civil rights offenses. Established in 2021, the Civil Rights Unit prosecutes deprivations of constitutional rights by federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who abuse their authority. The Unit also investigates and prosecutes human trafficking and sexual abuse offenses, as well as acts of violence or threats of violence that are motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The work of the Unit also includes investigating and prosecuting the unlawful interference with reproductive health services, environmental crimes, and voting rights cases. The Civil Rights Unit works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to advance its mission of using the criminal laws to protect civil rights.
All entry-level Assistant U.S. Attorneys (“AUSAs”) in the Criminal Division are first assigned to the General Crimes Unit, where they learn the various aspects of federal criminal prosecution and handle cases covering a range of subject matter, including violence and fraud. In the Unit, AUSAs learn how to investigate, bring to trial, and handle appeals for criminal cases. AUSAs in the Unit also handle the daily intake of cases referred to the Office by virtually every law enforcement agency within the District. AUSAs are assigned to the various subject-specific senior units within the Office after their time in General Crimes.
The Criminal Appeals Unit provides support to the Office by ensuring that submissions to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit are of the highest quality. The Unit assists with writing briefs and motions and preparing Criminal Division AUSAs for oral arguments before the Second Circuit. The Unit also provides guidance on legal issues arising in all phases of criminal prosecutions, advises the Office of developments in criminal law, and assists in the formulation of Office policies that address enforcement of that law.
Find out more about our Criminal Division priorities.