The FBI’s criminal investigations are intelligence driven and in turn contribute substantially to its intelligence collection. The various investigative programs also contribute to each other because criminal groups rarely confine themselves to one type of crime. Organized crime launders money for drug groups. Drug groups sell weapons to terrorists. Terrorists engage in financial and other crimes to raise money for their operations.
Today, following the trail of money launderers or identity thieves can lead to a terrorist plot. In “Operation Smokescreen,” the FBI linked cigarette smugglers in North Carolina to a group raising money for the terrorist organization Hizballah.
Counterterrorism has always been a top priority for the FBI, but today, it is the Bureau’s overriding mission to prevent acts of terrorism before they happen. This effort is managed by the Counterterrorism Division at Headquarters and carried out by every individual field office, resident agency, and Legat. Headquarters provides a team of analysts who work to put together bits of information gathered by the field offices. Headquarters also administers a national threat warning system that allows the FBI to instantly distribute important bulletins to law enforcement agencies and public safety departments. “Flying Squads” provide specialized counterterrorism knowledge and experience, language capabilities, and analytical support as needed to FBI field offices and Legats.
The FBI’s Counterterrorism Division collects, analyzes, and shares critical information and intelligence with the proper authorities to combat terrorism on three fronts: 1) international terrorism operations both within the United States and in support of extraterritorial investigations; 2) domestic terrorism operations; and 3) counterterrorism relating to both international and domestic terrorism.
Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs)
Essential weapons in the battle against terrorists are our Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs). In recent years, the FBI has tripled the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) across the country, from 33 to more than 100. These task forces combine the resources of the Bureau, the Intelligence Community, the military, and state and local police officers. These JTTFs have been essential in breaking up terrorist plots across the country, from Portland, Oregon; Lackawanna, New York; Torrance, California; and Chicago, to the recent Fort Dix and JFK Airport plots.
A National JTTF, located just outside Washington, D.C., includes representatives from over 40 agencies, including components of the Department of Homeland Security, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy.
National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)
At the NCTC, analysts from the FBI, CIA, DHS, DOD, DOE, HHS, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Capitol Police work side-by-side to piece together the big picture of threats to the U.S. and our interests. NCTC analysts produce the National Threat Bulletin for the President, the Threat Matrix, and other analytic products. Its secure website, NCTC Online, is the primary dissemination system for terrorism information produced by the NCTC and other counterterrorism mission partners, including international partners. The NCTC also conducts strategic operational planning.
Terrorist Screening Center (TSC)
The TSC was established in December 2003 to create a single comprehensive database of known or suspected terrorists (both domestic and international). The TSC leverages the FBI’s law enforcement databases to provide real-time actionable intelligence to state and local law enforcement.
The Terrorism Financing Operations Section (TFOS) coordinates efforts to track and shutdown terrorist financing and to exploit financial information in an effort to identify previously unknown terrorist cells, and recognize potential activity/planning. TFOS builds on the FBI’s expertise in conducting complex criminal financial investigations and long-established relationships with the financial services sector. Through this effort, the FBI has made tremendous progress in tracking and freezing terrorists’ assets.
For more information on the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts, go tohttp://www.fbi.gov/terrorinfo/counterrorism/waronterrorhome.htm.
Intelligence Case: Terrorist Screening Center
California Highway Patrol contacted the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) for screening assistance with an individual engaged in a traffic stop for speeding in Newhall, California in December 2005. A query of the NCIC produced a terrorism-related lookout instructing the officer to contact the TSC for assistance in identifying the subject, who was confirmed by the TSC to be a positive identity match to the individual listed in the NCIC lookout, and was the main subject of an FBI San Francisco international terrorism investigation. Traveling with the subject were two additional individuals who were fully identified. The subject was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and a female passenger was arrested on two outstanding warrants.
In 2003, the FBI’s “Virginia Jihad” investigation dismantled a radical jihad training cell operating in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area under the inspiration of the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET). The cell was a well-trained and violently anti-American Islamic network, some of whose members joined the LET in Pakistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks with the intention of entering Afghanistan to fight against U.S. forces. Members of the Virginia Jihad conspiracy returned to the United States and continued to provide material support to the LET until the FBI dismantled it. This investigation resulted in the conviction of 10 people on terrorism charges, the largest number of terrorism convictions in the United States since September 11, 2001. The case also led to the apprehension and conviction of two terrorist subjects in London, contributed to the arrest of three terrorist subjects in Australia, and supplemented a terrorist investigation in France.
The FBI’s “Volunteer Wrath” investigation thwarted a U.S. individual’s plan to obtain nuclear materials and bomb the Ed Jones Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Jackson, Tennessee, and the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Based on a tip received from a concerned citizen, the FBI established a cooperating witness who introduced an FBI undercover agent (UCA) to the individual, Demetrius Van Crocker. The UCA met with Crocker on several occasions and recorded several conversations that confirmed Crocker’s intent. During these conversations, Crocker discussed his desire to obtain C-4 (plastic) explosives, Sarin nerve gas, and nuclear weapons. While discussing his plans to bomb the courthouse, Crocker stated, “The country needs to be taken back by the people” and “I want to strike a smited blow.” Crocker also expressed his deep hatred of the U.S. government and discussed his right wing beliefs, which were closely aligned to groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist/neo-Nazi organizations. The investigation also disclosed that Crocker was formerly a member of the National Socialist Movement, dating back to approximately 1985. Crocker was convicted on five terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment and lifetime supervised release.
The FBI’s Buffalo Joint Terrorism Task Force “Lackawanna Six” investigation in 2001 dismantled an al Qaeda terrorist cell composed of six U.S. citizens in Lackawanna, New York. The investigation determined that the cell members were recruited by a known al Qaeda leader and trained with firearms and explosives at the Al Farooq terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in the summer of 2001. While at the camp, the cell members attended speeches given by Usama Bin Laden in which he discussed having 40 men on a mission to attack America and hailed the bombings of the U.S.S. Cole and the U.S. embassies in Africa. Some cell members also had personal meetings with Usama Bin Laden during which he expressed interest in recruiting U.S. citizens for martyrdom missions. All six subjects have pled guilty to terrorism-related charges and agreed to cooperate with the government. They have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven to 10 years. The success of the investigation is credited to the significant cooperation between the FBI and its local, federal, and international law enforcement partners. The Lackawanna Six investigation not only successfully dismantled an al Qaeda terrorist cell within the U.S. and neutralized a major al Qaeda link to the Middle East, but information provided by the six individuals has helped deter other potential attacks. The Lackawanna Six investigation also helped shape the FBI’s strategy for counterterrorism investigations after 9/11.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force “Portland Seven” investigation in 2002 neutralized an international terrorist cell operating in the Portland, Oregon area. This investigation determined that, prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, six individuals, five of whom were American-born U.S. citizens, were preparing to fight a jihad against American troops in Afghanistan. A seventh individual, also an American-born U.S. citizen, supported the operation by sending money to a cell member overseas. During the summer of 2001, some of these individuals acquired firearms and engaged in weapons and physical training in Oregon and Washington state. Several members later attempted to enter Afghanistan to join al Qaeda and the Taliban in the fight against U.S. troops, but they were denied entry into Pakistan. This investigation resulted in the convictions of six individuals on terrorism-related and money laundering charges with federal sentences ranging from three to 18 years. The only subject who has not been convicted, Abdulla Al Saoub, was killed by Pakistani military authorities while in Pakistan.
As the lead counterintelligence agency within the United States Intelligence Community, the FBI has the principal authority to conduct and coordinate counterintelligence investigations and operations within the United States. It is the only federal agency with a mandate to investigate foreign counterintelligence cases within U.S. borders. Specially trained FBI counterintelligence experts monitor and neutralize foreign intelligence operations against the United States and investigate violations of federal laws against espionage, misuse of classified data, and other criminal matters relating to national security issues. The counterintelligence program is also involved in international terrorism threats, weapons of mass destruction threats, and attacks on the nation’s critical infrastructures (i.e., communications, banking systems, and transportation systems). Supported by other U.S. agencies as needed, the FBI also conducts espionage investigations anywhere in the world when the subject of the investigation is a U.S. citizen. The FBI’s counterintelligence program strives to be predictive and proactive, and to maintain a protective umbrella around the nation’s critical technology, infrastructure, and information.
The theft of intellectual property and technology by foreign parties or governments directly threatens the development and manufacturing of products, resulting in a weakened economic capability and diminished political stature for this country. In response, the FBI has dramatically increased the number of investigations aimed at stopping economic espionage.
Counterintelligence Case: Stolen Trade Secrets
On November 23, 2001, Fei-Ye and Ming-Zhong were arrested at San Francisco International Airport with stolen trade secret information in their possession. Both Ye and Zhong stole trade secrets belonging to Sun Microsystems, Inc., and Transmeta Corporation. Ye and Zhong had formed a company in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) called Supervision, Inc. to manufacture and market a computer microprocessor based on stolen trade secret technology. The City of Hanzhou and the Province of Zhejiang in the PRC were government entities that had agreed to provide funding and share in the profits of the enterprise benefiting from the stolen technology. Ye and Zhong pled guilty in the Northern District of California to violations of Title 18 Section 1831 Economic Espionage. These guilty pleas represent the first convictions obtained for violations of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996.
Counterintelligence Case: Arms Control Act Export Violations
On March 23, 2006, Howard Hsy, of Bellevue, Washington, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly to two years of probation and a $15,000 fine in U.S. District Court in Seattle for conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act. Hsy conspired with others to export night vision goggles and camera lenses to a contact in Taiwan. Exporting those items required a license and written approval from the Department of State, which Hsy did not have. The military equipment was later shipped to the People’s Republic of China. Hsy conspired with others in the Seattle area and Taiwan to purchase the military gear for export. The military equipment was primarily used by military pilots to fly and navigate at night. In October 2005, a Seattle-area co-conspirator, Donald Shull, pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the Export Administration Act and was sentenced in February 2006 to two years of probation and a $10,000 fine.
The FBI plays two very important roles in cyberspace. First, it is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating cyber attacks by criminals, foreign adversaries, and terrorists. The Director placed the protection of the U.S. against cyber-based attacks and high technology crimes as the number three priority within the FBI. The potential damage to our national security from a cyber-based attack includes devastating interruptions of critical communications, transportation, and other services. Additionally, such attacks could be used to access and steal protected information and plans.
The FBI also works to prevent criminals, sexual predators, and others intent on malicious destruction from using the Internet and online services to steal from, defraud, and otherwise victimize citizens, businesses, and communities.
The Cyber Division at Headquarters manages investigations into Internet-facilitated crimes and supports counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigations that call for technical expertise. The Division has developed regional Cyber Action Teams (CATs) to respond to cyber events, domestic or international, which may significantly threaten the national computer infrastructures or potentially impact the national economy or security. In addition, most FBI field offices have specialized cyber squads. FBI Regional Computer Forensic Laboratories throughout the country help state and local law enforcement solve cases where evidence is locked in a computer.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was established in May 2000, as a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to serve as a repository for receiving, developing, and referring criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding areas of cyber crimes. The IC3 gives the victims of cyber crime a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism for alerting authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations. The IC3 serves the broader law enforcement community and all the key components of the 50 FBI-led Cyber Crime Task Forces throughout the country.
The Cyber Division also continuously seeks to regularly form and maintain public/private alliances in conjunction with enhanced education and training to maximize counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and law enforcement cyber response capabilities.
Cyber Attacks: Bot Attacks
Operation Bot Roast was a national takedown executed in June and November 2007. Operation Bot Roast was part of the FBI Botnet Initiative designed to combat the propagation of remotely controlled compromised victim computers utilized for criminal purposes. The national takedown, coordinated with the National Press Office, the Office of Victim Assistance, DHS, Microsoft, COMCAST, Earthlink, and other private sector and academic entities, was very successful in raising public awareness of cyber threats. The takedown resulted in highly favorable press coverage which included more than 200 print articles worldwide. Bot Roast II was undertaken in November 2007 and resulted in the arrest of eight individuals, including a teenager in New Zealand.
Internet Fraud: Phishing Attacks
In late 2004, Capital One Bank, based in Richmond, Virginia, was targeted by numerous phishing attacks. The FBI’s Richmond Field Office identified approximately 50 compromised servers used to implement these attacks. The attackers used several methods to compromise these servers. Investigation led to the discovery of an online fraud forum utilized by both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to commit financial crimes via the Internet.
Public Corruption is among the FBI’s top priorities and is the number one priority of the Criminal Investigative Division. Public corruption strikes at the heart of government, eroding public confidence and undermining the strength of our democracy. Investigating public corruption is an FBI commitment as old as the Bureau itself. Indeed, it is a mission for which the FBI is singularly situated; we have the skills necessary to conduct undercover operations and the ability to perform electronic surveillance.
Public corruption indictments have increased by 30 percent since 2002 and the number of convictions has increased by 25 percent. In 2007, there were over 2,556 pending cases, with 1,053 indictments and 895 convictions. The number of agents working such cases has increased by 42 percent.
FBI investigations have led to the conviction of more than 1,060 government employees involved in corrupt activities, to include 177 federal officials, 158 state officials, 360 local officials, and more than 365 police officers.
The Department of Justice also has recovered more than $69 million in fines and more than $356 million in restitution.
The Public Corruption Program also targets governmental fraud and corrupt practices. For example, the International Contract Corruption Initiative addresses the systemic, long-term, multi-billion dollar contract corruption and procurement fraud crime problem in the Middle East, principally in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.
The Bureau’s Hurricane Fraud Initiative addresses contract and procurement fraud in the Gulf Coast region of the United States in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Campaign Finance and Ballot Fraud Initiative addresses campaign finance violations, with a particular emphasis on the 2008 elections.
Color of Law: Wilson County Jail
On January 12, 2003, Walter Steven Kuntz was arrested by officers from the City of Lebanon, Tennessee Police Department for Driving Under the Influence. He was transported to the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office Jail, where, over the next several hours, two correctional officers subjected Kuntz to a series of severe beatings because he would not stop talking in his cell. Approximately eight hours later Kuntz was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and then airlifted to St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. Kuntz was declared brain dead and died approximately 24 hours later. His death was ruled a homicide. The FBI field office in Memphis responded to this incident, and, working in conjunction with agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, they identified a pattern of beatings and civil rights violations carried out by second shift correctional officers at the Wilson County Jail occurring over at least a two-year period. The investigation revealed the identities of other officers who were involved in the Kuntz beating and eventually, four correctional officers agreed to plead guilty in exchange for their cooperation and testimony against the more culpable officers.
On July 23, 2004, five Wilson County Jail correctional officers were charged with eight counts of conspiring to violate the civil rights of 13 former inmates of the Wilson County Jail, to include Walter Steven Kuntz. Sergeant Patrick Marlowe and Officer Gary Hale were charged with causing the death of Kuntz by assaulting him in a cell at the jail and then denying him prompt medical attention for his injuries. Hale and Officer Robert Brian Ferrell subsequently pled guilty prior to trial and agreed to cooperate with the government.
On January 26, 2006, after a three-week trial, Marlowe was found guilty on seven of eight counts, including directly causing the death of Kuntz by failing to provide Kuntz with proper medical care. Officer Tommy Shane Conatser was convicted of one count of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of inmates at the Wilson County Jail. On July 7, 2006, Marlowe was sentenced to life in prison. Officer Hale was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment, Officer Conatser was sentenced to almost six years' imprisonment, Officer Christopher McCathern was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, Officer Robert Brian Ferrell was sentenced to one year imprisonment, Officer William Westmoreland was sentenced to three years' probation, and Officer John McKinney and Officer Travis Bradley were sentenced to two years' probation.
The FBI is the primary federal agency responsible for investigating all allegations regarding violations of federal civil rights statutes. These laws are designed to protect the civil rights of all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike, within United States territory. In 2002, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III identified the Civil Rights Program as the fifth investigative priority within the FBI and the second priority within the Criminal Investigative Division. The mission of the Civil Rights Program is to enforce federal civil rights statutes and to ensure that the protected civil rights of all persons in the United States are not abridged.
The FBI has established productive and meaningful liaison relationships with state and municipal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, non-governmental organizations, and community and minority groups to improve reporting of civil rights violations, to promote the benefits of sharing information and intelligence, and to develop proactive strategies for identifying and addressing trends in this field.
Cold Case Initiative
To effectively address these concerns, the Civil Rights Program has been divided into four sub-programs. In order of priority, these sub-programs are: Hate Crimes, Color of Law, Human Trafficking, and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
On July 1, 2005 and July 28, 2005, bills were introduced into Congress requesting the establishment of an Unsolved Crimes Section with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. This Section would coordinate with local and state authorities to reopen and investigate unsolved and/or inadequately addressed Civil Rights Era bias crimes which resulted in the death of the victim.
In response to this proposed legislation, the Civil Rights Unit of the FBI established the Cold Case Initiative. With assistance of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Urban League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and our local and state law enforcement partners, 113 potential cases were identified which matched the established criteria. Currently, numerous FBI field offices across the country are investigating these crimes, many of which occurred over 50 or 60 years ago, to determine if the suspects and witnesses are still alive and if the FBI would have jurisdiction to initiate a federal civil rights investigation.
Other areas of emphasis are as follows: 1) enforcing the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which bars conduct that would obstruct access to reproductive health facilities; 2) investigating discrimination in housing; 3) enforcing the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; and 4) non-organized crime-related exploitation (involuntary servitude) of women and children.
Since 2001, the number of pending civil rights cases has increased 19 percent, from 1,326 to 1,587.
In February of 2006, the FBI and the Department of Justice began to work with the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the National Urban League on the Civil Rights Cold Case Initiative. As part of this initiative, the FBI asked its 56 field offices to re-examine their unsolved civil rights cases; to determine how to effectively coordinate with state and local law enforcement and community partners to assess each referral for its investigative and legal viability; and, given the Bureau’s updated investigative and forensic tools, to move forward in inestigating these cases.
Civil Rights: Cold Case Hate Crime
One successful Cold Case investigation involved the deaths of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore on May 2, 1964 in Franklin County, Mississippi. Eyewitnesses observed them hitchhiking near Meadville, Mississippi while they were home from college. Their bodies were discovered two months later.
In July 2005, state and federal law enforcement authorities met in Jackson, Mississippi and reopened the case into the disappearance and deaths of these college students. The investigation revealed that Dee and Moore were coaxed into a car owned by members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who pretended to be law enforcement officers. One of these individuals was James Ford Seale, who suspected that Dee was involved in civil rights activities. Dee and Moore were driven to the Homochitto National Forest, tied to trees, and severely beaten. They were released, their mouths and hands were duct-taped, and they were placed in the trunk of another Klansman’s vehicle. Seale and his accomplices drove to a location near Tallulah, Louisiana and placed Dee and Moore in a boat on the Mississippi River. The victims were anchored to an engine block and dumped in the river.
On November 6, 1964, Seale and fellow Klansman Charles Marcus Edwards were arrested on state charges which were dismissed two months later. The FBI field office in Jackson discovered during their 2005 federal investigation that Seale was still alive, contrary to his family’s reports that he had died many years earlier. They also elicited the cooperation of Seale’s fellow Klansman Charles Marcus Edwards, who agreed to testify against Seale. On January 24, 2007, a federal grand jury charged Seale with conspiracy and kidnapping for his involvement in the deaths of Dee and Moore. Seale was convicted following a jury trial and was sentenced on August 24, 2007 to three life sentences in prison.
Civil Rights: Hate Crimes
Between 1995 and 2001, the Avenues street gang of Highland Park, California began a crusade to drive African-Americans out of their neighborhood through intimidation, violence, and murder. The FBI field office in Los Angeles broke new ground when they investigated this Hispanic street gang for violation of federal hate crimes statutes and applied criminal laws that had only previously been used against white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
The investigation was initiated following the April 18, 1999 brutal murder of Kenneth Wilson, an African-American male, after he was spotted parking his car on a Highland Park street. From inside a stolen van, six Avenues members, led by Alejandro “Bird” Martinez, agreed to kill Wilson. They exited the van, and, using a .357 revolver, a 9mm pistol, and a .12 gauge shotgun, shot Wilson to death.
The FBI conducted numerous interviews of gang members both inside and outside of the California prison system and in Arizona, Chicago, Miami, and El Salvador. They were able to elicit the assistance and cooperation of actual gang members who revealed that the Avenues had a deep-rooted policy of assaulting and killing African-Americans to terrify them into leaving the neighborhood. Additionally, dozens of African-American victims, who were casual citizens or non-gang members, gave statements to the FBI describing their violent encounters with the gang.
The trial against the Avenues commenced on June 21, 2006, concerning the murder of three African-American males, to include Wilson, and dozens of violent assaults against other African-Americans. On August 1, 2006, the federal jury reached guilty verdicts for all the defendants—Gilbert “Lucky” Saldana, Alejandro “Bird” Martinez, Fernando “Sneaky” Cazares, and Porfirio “Dreamer” Avila—on all counts.
Involuntary Servitude and Slavery/Human Trafficking
On June 23, 2005, two females reported that they had been sexually victimized, physically abused, and financially extorted by an individual who owned a modeling/casting company. He convinced the girls to sign a modeling contract with his agency. As their agent, he promised them that they would make a lot of money and be featured in fashion magazines and in music videos. The agent told the girls that the cost to sign on with his casting agency was $24,000.00 and that the girls would make enough money to pay him back a weekly fee of $450.00.
Once the girls signed the contract, the agent became controlling, abusive, and he threatened to kill them and their families if they did not obey him. Each female was forced into prostitution and video tapes were made of them engaging in sexual activity with unknown males. He forced the girls to work as strip dancers in adult entertainment clubs to repay him the money they owed. He also physically and mentally abused the girls.
The FBI field office in Atlanta initiated a human trafficking investigation and worked the case jointly with the Atlanta Police Department’s Human Trafficking Task Force. The Task Force located and identified 18 additional victims from modeling contracts discovered in the agent’s vehicle and personal belongings and from searching police domestic violence records where he was named as the abuser. Additionally, other victims surfaced as a result of the media coverage this case received following his arrest in December 2005.
This investigation led to the agent’s indictment by a federal grand jury on charges of sex trafficking and extortion. Just prior to the start of his trial, he pled guilty to charges including conspiracy and sex trafficking. On January 24, 2008, he was sentenced to a prison term of fifteen years.
On October 23, 1998 in Amherst, New York, Dr. Barnett Slepian was fatally wounded by a single gunshot fired into his residence by an unknown sniper. Dr. Slepian operated a well-known medical clinic that provided abortions and other women’s reproductive health services. The shooting was similar to previous shootings in Rochester, New York and three other Canadian cities from 1994 to 1997. The FBI field office in Buffalo, along with the Amherst Police Department and the New York State Police, immediately initiated an investigation into the shooting.
James Charles Kopp was charged in a federal complaint and subsequent indictment with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution, and firearms charges. On June 7, 1999, he was added to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. Over the course of an extensive fugitive investigation, the FBI in Buffalo and New York City used Title IIIs, substantial surveillance, elicited the cooperation of key witnesses, and worked in conjunction with many other domestic and international law enforcement agencies. These efforts led investigators to Dinan, France, where Kopp was located on March 29, 2001. On June 5, 2002, Kopp was taken into custody at Le Bourget Airport in Paris, France by FBI agents from the Buffalo and New York City Offices and transported back to the United States.
On April 3, 2001, two of Kopp’s associates, Dennis Malvasi and Loretta Marra, were indicted on charges of harboring, concealing, and aiding and abetting Kopp. Kopp was convicted of second-degree murder on March 18, 2003 and was sentenced to 25 years to life. Malvasi and Marra pled guilty to federal charges on April 15, 2003 and were sentenced to 29 months' incarceration.
The FBI is the only federal entity with responsibility for investigating allegations of federal civil rights violations and abuses. In pursuit of this mission, the FBI investigates violence and hate crimes by individuals and/or members of racist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan. The FBI also investigates allegations of misconduct on the part of law enforcement officers, including physical abuse, infliction of summary punishment, and deprivation of rights through fabrication of evidence. The Bureau works with state and municipal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and special interest/minority groups to improve reporting of civil rights violations and to design proactive strategies for identifying and mitigating systemic police brutality.
The FBI’s fight against organized crime is unlike other criminal programs. Instead of focusing on individual crimes, the FBI’s Organized Crime Program targets the entire organization responsible for a variety of criminal activities. The FBI has found that even if key individuals in an organization are removed, the depth and financial strength of the organization often allow the enterprise to continue.
The FBI focuses its efforts on structured criminal groups that pose the greatest threat to the American society. These criminal enterprises include traditional, well-entrenched organizations such as La Cosa Nostra and Italian Organized Crime, Russian/Eurasian Organized Crime, Nigerian Criminal Enterprises, and Asian Criminal Enterprises. Additionally, because many organized crime groups are drawn to the lucrative profits associated with drug trafficking, the FBI also focuses investigations on the Cali, Medellin, and North Coast Colombian drug cartels, Mexican Drug-Trafficking Organizations, and organizations based in the United States.
The dismantling or disruption of major international and national organized criminal enterprises is an area of FBI expertise. The FBI is uniquely qualified to dismantle organizations because of the experience, training, and expertise of its agents; the FBI’s presence throughout the country; and its history as a methodical and thorough investigative agency. The FBI’s mission is accomplished through sustained, coordinated investigations and the use of the criminal and civil provisions of the RICO statute.
Organized Crime Case: Eurasian Organized Crime
In February, 1999 former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko arrived in the United States; by May 18, 2000, a federal grand jury indicted Lazarenko. Lazarenko had extorted over $40 million from Ukrainian citizens and laundered over $20 million through American banks. This arrest was the result of a six-year investigation led by agents of the FBI and IRS. The jury trial lasted ten-and-a-half weeks and Lazarenko was ultimately convicted of one count of conspiracy to launder money, seven counts of money laundering, five counts of wire fraud, and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. On August 25, 2006, Lazarenko was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment and ordered to pay a 10 million dollar fine. This was only the second time that a head of state from another country was sentenced in the United States.
Organized Crime Case: La Cosa Nostra
Operation "Last Camp" involved a six-year investigation into the hierarchy of the Gambino La Cosa Nostra crime family. Using informants, cooperating witnesses, undercover operations and extensive electronic surveillance, the FBI was able to successfully infiltrate the hierarchy of La Cosa Nostra. In 2006, Operation Last Camp resulted in the indictments and convictions of 37 members and associates, to include high-ranking bosses of the Gambino, Lucchese, and Genovese La Cosa Nostra families.
Organized Crime Case: La Cosa Nostra
In an investigation that spanned nearly six years, the son of reputed Chicago mobster Frank Calabrese turned on the family and agreed to wear a recorder against his father about the “family business.” Calabrese’s son recorded his father discussing three murders. Other recorded conversations with Calabrese included Calabrese discussing the murder of mobster John Fecarotta in Chicago. Additional charges in this case included loan sharking, extortion, and gambling, just to name a few. In 2007, a federal grand jury in Chicago handed down a sweeping 43-page indictment charging 14 members of the “Chicago Outfit” with crimes that covered four decades and read like a “Who’s Who” of the Chicago Mob. As of January 2008, this investigation has resulted in 11 convictions, including three crew bosses and the head of the Chicago Outfit.
Organized Crime Case: Asian Organized Crime
In 2003, FBI San Francisco initiated an investigation into a criminal enterprise composed of individuals and businesses within the San Francisco Bay Area engaged in illegal activity. These acts included conspiring to bring South Korean women into the United States for purposes of prostitution; moving South Korean women in California across state lines to engage in sexual acts; and smuggling, transporting, harboring, and employing illegal aliens who engaged in prostitution, sex trafficking, and money laundering. In early 2005, a Group II undercover operation and Title III investigation were initiated.
On June 30, 2005, FBI San Francisco, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of State (DOS), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the San Francisco Police Deaprtment (SFPD) executed arrest and search warrants of 29 indicted defendants, and over 40 search locations, to include 12 targeted businesses in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Subsequent superceding indictments resulted in additional charges, to include money laundering conspiracy. Work is ongoing to obtain over $2 million dollars of assets to be forfeited by convicted defendants.
To date, “Operation Gilded Cage” has resulted in the arrest/detention of approximately 100 illegal/legal aliens, 26 federal convictions, four disruptions, and over $1.6 million in asset forfeitures.
The FBI’s efforts to fight violent gangs focuses on the most acute problems threatening our society and complex multi-jurisdictional investigations where the FBI can offer special capabilities. The focus on violent gangs has increased, with more than 2,800 pending investigations into gangs and gang-related activities. The number of agents working gang cases has increased by 70 percent since 2001.
Agents and professionals routinely work with our state and local partners to combat this pervasive threat. Of the FBI’s 188 Safe Streets Task Forces, 135 are dedicated to identifying, prioritizing, and targeting violent gangs. More than 600 agents serve on these task forces, along with more than 1,100 officers from state and local law enforcement. In 2006, nearly 2,200 violent gang members were convicted in part by these efforts.
In addition to task force participation, the Bureau launched the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) just outside Washington, D.C. to support our law enforcement partners on the front lines. Developed in 2005, the NGIC is a multi-agency effort that integrates gang-related intelligence assets from federal, state, and local law enforcement entities. It serves as a centralized intelligence resource for gang information and analytical support.
The NGIC is co-located with GangTECC, the National Gang Targeting, Enforcement, and Coordination Center, which is the national, multi-agency anti-gang task force created by the Attorney General.
The MS-13 National Gang Task Force supports FBI field office investigations of the MS-13 international gang, which has its origins in El Salvador. Started in 2004, the task force coordinates the investigative efforts of federal, state, and local agencies against MS-13 gang targets. MS-13 members and associates have been identified in Central America and in more than 30 states and have a significant presence in Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C.
Identifying gang members in El Salvador and in neighboring countries is aided by the Central American Fingerprint Exploitation initiative (CAFÉ), created in May 2006. Under the initiative, criminal fingerprint and other biometric records from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras are entered into the FBI’s fingerprint databases, which can be searched by U.S. law enforcement and by the participating nations.
Gang Case: MS-13 International Takedown
In 2006, the MS-13 Unit’s first joint operation led to the arrest of 10 MS-13 gang members in El Salvador affiliated with four different groups, or cliques, including two of the most violent, “Los Teclanos” and “Los Pinos Locos Salvatruchos.” The investigation was part of a larger case involving 41 key MS-13 members indicted for 33 different murders. During the arrests, a three-year-old boy missing since the murder of his mother in December 2005 was safely recovered.
White-collar crimes are categorized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. Such acts are committed by individuals and organizations to obtain money, property, or services; to avoid the payment or loss of money or services; or to secure a personal or business advantage.
The FBI investigates white-collar criminal activities such as money laundering, securities and commodities fraud, bank fraud and embezzlement, environmental crimes, fraud against the government, health care fraud, election law violations, copyright violations, and telemarketing fraud. In general, the FBI focuses on organized crime activities that are international, national, or regional in scope where the FBI can bring to bear unique expertise or capabilities that increase the likelihood of a successful investigation and prosecution. In the health care fraud area, the FBI targets systemic abuses, such as large-scale billing fraud that is national or regional in scope and fraudulent activities that threaten the safety of patients. The FBI pursues financial institution fraud involving $100,000 or more. In cases of telemarketing and insurance fraud, the FBI will generally become involved when there is evidence of nationwide or international activities. The number of agents investigating corporate and other securities, commodities, and investment fraud cases has increased 47 percent, from 177 in 2001 to more than 250 today. Since 2007, there have been more than 1,700 pending corporate, securities, commodities, and investment fraud cases, an increase of 37 percent since 2001.
FBI special agents work closely with investigators from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, among others. Together, we target sophisticated, multi-layered fraud cases that injure the marketplace and threaten our economy.
White Collar Case: Enron
As a result of its deceptive accounting practices—including the creation of earnings, the manufacture of cash flow, and the concealment of debt—officers of Enron Corporation (Enron) misled the investing public regarding its reported financial condition. In addition, investment banks and other business partners aided Enron in perpetrating the fraud through the creation of financial structures and other devices that facilitated the deceptive accounting practices. As of December 13, 2007, 33 individuals have been charged in the investigation. Of these individuals, 22 have pled guilty or been convicted, including former Enron Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jeffrey Skilling, former Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay (conviction later vacated due to his death), and former Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow. Skilling was sentenced to 24 years and four months in prison, the largest term handed down in connection with the case. Fastow was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the accounting scandal. The cases were handled by the Enron Task Force, which consisted of members of the DOJ, FBI, and IRS. The Securities and Exchange Commission provided considerable assistance in this investigation.
White Collar Case: Qwest Communications
Qwest Communications (Qwest) is a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest providers of telecommunications services in the United States. In 2000 and 2001, the company reported sales revenues of $16 billion and $19 billion, respectively, in its published financial statements. In 2002, Qwest issued a press release which acknowledged the company had improperly recorded $1.1 billion in revenue since 1999 and the FBI opened a criminal investigation. Five executives were indicted and either pled guilty or were convicted of securities fraud or insider trading. This included former CEO Joseph Nacchio, who was convicted of insider trading on April 19, 2007. He was sentenced to six years' imprisonment, ordered to forfeit $52 million gained as a result of his illegal stock sales, and fined $19 million.
White Collar Case: Riggs Bank
Simon Kareri, a former Riggs Bank Senior Vice President, and his wife, Ndeye Nene Fall Kareri, embezzled funds from various bank accounts owned by the country of Equatorial Guinea. The funds were then laundered through shell companies established by Kareri’s wife in the British Virgin Islands. The investigation further revealed that Kareri accepted illegal kickbacks from a contractor for inflating work contracts on behalf of the Benin Embassy in Washington, D.C. In 2005, Kareri and his wife pled guilty to conspiracy, bank fraud, and money laundering. On November 16, 2006, Nene Kareri was sentenced to 75 days in prison and three years' supervised release, and Simon Kareri was sentenced to 27 months in prison and four years' supervised release. The FBI successfully seized more than $1.1 million in assets as a result.
On October 11, 2007, Simon Kareri surrendered to the FBI a check in the amount of $631,021.24, which represented a money judgment included in his plea agreement.
White Collar Case: Amerifunding
Amerifunding was a mortgage brokerage owned and operated by Gerald Small in Colorado, which maintained two “warehouse” lines of credits, each at a large federally-insured financial institution in the U.S. In order to support a lavish lifestyle, Small created fictitious loans to live off of the lines of credit. The borrower information, name, and social security number were invented. Eventually, one of the creditors asked for verification of identification thereby defeating the “invention” process. To deal with this, Small placed an advertisement for a $100,000+ account representative position at his company. Applicants eagerly completed applications inclusive of names, social security numbers, and copies of driver’s licenses which Small wasted no time in utilizing for more fictitious loans. Investigation determined that Small had kited over $200 million in fraudulent mortgage loans and used the stolen identities of 47 job applicants to obtain mortgage funding for fictitious home loans, or “air loans,” totaling over $21.5 million during a 24-month period.
Gerald Small engaged with others in a massive kiting and mortgage fraud scheme in Colorado resulting in the conviction of six individuals, the seizure of almost $20 million in cash and assets, the restitution of two private jet aircraft, and losses to federally-insured financial institutions of approximately $35 million. Small was sentenced to 101 months in federal prison.
Wire Fraud Case: Hurricane Katrina Ponzi Scheme
David McDowell Robinson, age 56, pled guilty to 27 counts of wire and mail fraud arising from a fraudulent investment scheme involving over 900 investors in an eight million dollar Ponzi scheme that included victims of Hurricane Katrina. Robinson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, a $1 million fine, and five years of supervised release on each of the 27 counts.
Health Care Fraud
Health care fraud significantly impacts the lives of all Americans. Constant communication between the health care benefits programs, law enforcement agencies, state agencies, and the public is the most effective means to respond to fraudulent activity. The FBI is actively involved in 32 Health Care Fraud Task Forces, as well as numerous working groups and joint investigations.
Health Care Fraud Case: Medicare Fraud
This investigation resulted in the first known prosecution involving a criminal charge of health care fraud resulting in death. The case focused on the illegal distribution of pharmaceutical narcotics and billing for unnecessary medical procedures. The investigation revealed that Dr. Jorge A. Martinez provided excessive narcotic prescriptions, including OxyContin, to patients in exchange for the patients enduring unnecessary nerve block injections. Dr. Martinez’s actions directly resulted in the death of two of his patients. From 1998 until his arrest in 2004, Martinez submitted more than $59 million in claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. In January 2006, a jury found Martinez guilty of 56 criminal counts, including distribution of controlled substances, mail fraud, wire fraud, health care fraud, and health care fraud resulting in death. Martinez was later sentenced to life in prison. This investigation was conducted jointly with the HHS-OIG, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, DEA Diversion, AdvanceMed, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medical Mutual of Ohio.
Significant Violent Crime
Combating significant violent crime is a traditional area of FBI expertise. The Bureau concentrates on crime problems that pose major threats to the integrity of American society, such as criminal street gangs, bank robberies, carjackings, kidnappings, interstate transportation of stolen property and motor vehicles, assaults and threats of assault on federal officials, assaulting the President, theft or destruction of government property, and fugitive matters.
At any given time the FBI is actively searching for nearly 12,000 fugitives. To date, 489 fugitives have been on the “Top Ten” list, and 459 have been apprehended or located. Under the Fugitive Program, the FBI locates and apprehends individuals wanted in connection with substantive FBI investigations. The FBI also assists local and state law enforcement agencies in apprehending highly-sought fugitives who may have fled across state lines or left the country. The primary emphasis is on fugitives sought for serious or violent criminal acts, including those engaged in large-scale drug trafficking.
The FBI is the primary federal law enforcement agency with statutory authority to investigate fugitive matters where the fugitive is wanted on state charges and has crossed state lines. The FBI’s policy and objective in investigating fugitive matters is to effect the swift location and capture of fugitives, particularly those wanted in connection with violent crimes and substantial property loss or destruction.
The FBI is increasingly tasked to assist with coordinating apprehension efforts of non-U.S. fugitives. In these cases, fugitives fled foreign law enforcement, are believed to be in the United States, and are wanted for crimes of violence including murder, kidnapping, and robbery.
The “Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list is a publicity program founded by the FBI in March 1950, in coordination with the national news media. It is designed to publicize particularly dangerous fugitives who might not otherwise merit nationwide attention. The program concentrates on nationwide crime and terrorism, serial murders, and drug-related crimes. Since its creation, the Top Ten program has resulted in the location or apprehension of 459 fugitives. For more information on this program, including photographs and descriptions of the current Top Ten, go to http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/fugitives/fugitives.htm.
Case Study: Eric Robert Rudolph
Between 1996 and 1998, bombs exploded four times in Atlanta, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama, killing two, injuring hundreds, and setting off what turned out to be a five-year manhunt for suspected bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. The FBI, working with federal, state, and local partners through the Southeast Bomb Task Force, focused on western North Carolina, where Rudolph was believed to be living. He was placed on the Ten Most Wanted list in May 1998, the 454th fugitive to be added. Considered to be armed and very dangerous, a $1 million dollar reward was offered for his capture.
Rudolph was eventually captured in May 2003 in Murphy, North Carolina by a local officer who spotted him rummaging through a dumpster. Rudolph signed a plea agreement in April 2005, pleading guilty to both the Birmingham bombing and the Atlanta Olympic bombings. In connection with the plea agreement, five caches, containing approximately 265 pounds of dynamite and other bomb-making material, were recovered in western North Carolina. In July 2005, Rudolph was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the two counts in the Birmingham bombing.
Crimes Against Children
The FBI provides a rapid and effective investigative response to reported federal crimes involving child victims, such as kidnappings, sexual assaults, sexual exploitation of children, international parental kidnappings, and Child Support Recovery Act matters.
Online child pornography and child sexual exploitation are the largest crimes against children problems confronting the FBI. To respond, the FBI started the Innocent Images National Initiative, which combats the worldwide proliferation of child pornography and child sexual exploitation facilitated by the Internet. This proactive online undercover operation is designed to prevent child pornography and child sexual exploitation committed via the Internet and online services; to identify and rescue witting and unwitting child victims; to identify and prosecute child sexual offenders; and to create an online environment where would-be offenders are deterred because of the possibility of communicating with undercover law enforcement agents.
In October 2004, the Innocent Images International Task Force (IIITF) was established to target East Central European websites. However, Innocent Images has now expanded to combat child porn sites worldwide and has to date generated nearly 3,000 leads. In the past 10 years, there has been an exponential increase in the FBI’s caseload, from just 113 cases in 1996 to more than 5,000 in 2007. In fact, online child pornography and exploitation investigations accounted for 37 percent of all investigations in the Cyber Division in FY 2006. In total, more than 6,000 child predators have been convicted in FBI cases since 1996.
The FBI also utilizes the Endangered Child Alert Program, launched in 2004, which uses national and international media exposure of unknown adults featured in child pornography.
FBI has continued Operation “Peer Pressure” targeting persons who use Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks to collect and distribute child pornography. These cases have charged not only offenses related to the possession and distribution of child pornography, but also sexual abuse of children.
The campaign to combat child prostitution is facilitated through the Innocence Lost National Initiative. It addresses domestic trafficking of children for purposes of prostitution, and has been expanded to 29 cities with an identified child prostitution crime problem. Twenty-three task forces have been established with state and local law enforcement to combat this crime problem, with strong support provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Finding Abducted Children
The FBI has created and utilizes regional Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) teams, which are designed to rapidly deploy experienced Crimes Against Children Unit (CECU) investigators to provide investigative, technical, and resource assistance to state and local law enforcement during the most critical time period following a child abduction.
Research has shown that the majority of children who are abducted and killed are murdered within several hours of the actual abduction. The rapid deployment of FBI resources during these critical hours after an abduction may enhance the odds of recovering the victim alive, preclude others from becoming victims, and facilitate the identification and arrest of the offender(s).
CARD teams are geographically distributed throughout the five regions of the United States (Northeast, Southeast, North Central, South Central, and West) consistent with the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) Program Management Plan. Each region has two teams of approximately six members for a total of approximately 60 CARD team members. CARD teams are supplemented by CACU personnel, as well as CIRG/BAU III, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, and the Violent Incident Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP).
In addition, the Bureau has developed and acquired the Registered Sex Offender Locator Tool, a technology-enabled solution that integrates several data and analytical capabilities into one system which provides immediate, critical investigative lead information during the hours immediately after a child abduction.
Case Study: Child Prostitution
In March, 2004, the FBI opened an investigation on a suspected pimp operating out of New Jersey and New York. What the FBI uncovered was a sophisticated criminal enterprise which thrived on the victimization of children for the purposes of prostitution. The main target of the investigation had been a pimp for 15 years, and had accrued millions of dollars in assets from the proceeds of his victimization of women and children.
The FBI revealed that the pimp had, at times, up to 40 women working for him as prostitutes—seven of which were children, the youngest being 13 years old. The victims were kept in a network of houses and apartments owned by the pimp in southern New Jersey, New York City, and Las Vegas, Nevada. All of the proceeds from the prostitution went directly to the pimp; the victims were not allowed to keep anything.
The pimp in this case controlled his victims through violence and threats of violence. If one of his prostitutes was caught keeping any of the money they earned, the pimp would beat them in front of all of the other victims in order to instill fear. The victims were never allowed to tell the pimp “no.” For example, if it was raining outside the pimp would ask, “Is it sunny?” and the victims would have to answer, “Yes, it is raining.” If a victim ever told the pimp “no” for anything, she was beaten in front of everyone.
The FBI followed the pimp one night to a hip-hop concert. FBI agents observed the pimp talking to all of the younger girls, promising them tickets to similar concerts and expensive clothing if the girls would “hang out” with him. This was one of his favorite ways to recruit potential victims. The pimp, along with many other pimps, would also go to bus terminals to recruit potential victims from the many teens who run away from home via bus.
When FBI agents took down the case in late 2005, they seized nine luxury vehicles, including a Hummer SUV, BMW sedan, Mercedes sports car, and Cadillac Escalade. They also seized three residential properties, two apartment buildings, and one recording studio. All of the aforementioned assets were purchased through the money given to him by his victims. He received 23.3 years' incarceration and lifetime supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender upon his parole and will be forbidden to be in contact with anyone under the age of 18.
Innocence Lost National Initiative
In June 2003, the CACU implemented the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address the growing problem of children recruited into prostitution. This initiative was supported by the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (DOJ/CEOS) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Task forces or working groups have been formed in 28 cities to address the problem, and several case coordination meetings have been hosted by the CACU in an effort to share intelligence.
To date, Innocence Lost investigations have led to the conviction of 365 individuals on a combination of state and federal charges. More importantly, our efforts have led to the recovery of 577 child victims. Substantial sentences of convicted pimps have been obtained, including two life sentences and several ranging in length from 30-40 years.
Case Study: Human Trafficking: Precious Cargo
Based on intelligence obtained during the course of a wiretap in the Oklahoma City Division, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was identified as a lucrative destination for enterprises engaged in the interstate trafficking of victims of prostitution, to include juveniles. Forty pimps associated with prostitution activities in central Pennsylvania were identified during the investigation. Additionally, 152 victims of prostitution were identified, 44 of which were recruited or worked as juveniles. On December 7, 2005, Philadelphia Division Harrisburg RA indicted 18 subjects named in two federal indictments.
To date, all subjects have been convicted. Sentences ranging from 25—40 years in prison have been obtained.
The illicit trade in art and cultural artifacts is a major category of international crime. This includes theft of individual works of art, illegal export of objects protected by international laws, and pillaging of archaeological sites. Art theft is an international problem requiring cooperation at all levels of law enforcement. In response to these crimes, the FBI established a rapid deployment Art Crime Team in 2004 composed of 13 special agents, each responsible for addressing art and cultural property crime cases in an assigned geographic region.
The Art Crime Team is coordinated through the FBI’s Art Theft Program, located at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Art Crime Team agents receive specialized training in art and cultural property investigations and assist in art-related investigations worldwide. The Department of Justice has assigned three Special Trial Attorneys to the Art Crime Team for prosecutive support. Since its inception, the Art Crime Team has recovered more than 850 items of cultural property valued at more than $65 million. In addition, Art Crime Team members contributed to six successful prosecutions, with restitution and forfeitures exceeding $14 million.
Art Crime Case: Rembrandt Recovery
On December 23, 2000, three armed bandits brandishing machine guns robbed the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm, Sweden of three paintings: Auguste Renoir’s “Young Parisian” and “Conversation,” and Rembrandt van Rijn’s “Self Portrait” (c.1630). The robbers escaped with the paintings on a boat moored near the museum while employing distracting tactics, including tire spikes and diversionary car bombs in other parts of the city.
Renoir’s “Young Parisian” was recovered in Los Angeles in 2005 in an FBI Los Angeles criminal enterprise investigation. The Swedish national police had previously recovered Renoir’s “Conversation” in July of 2001. The Los Angeles investigation led to the identification of an organized theft group in Sweden. Subsequently, the U.S. task force worked jointly with the Copenhagen City Police (CCP), Danish National Police (DNP), and Swedish National Police (SNP) to coordinate efforts that resulted in an undercover sting operation to recover the remaining painting.
The task force was able to introduce an FBI undercover agent with substantial knowledge of art to pose as the buyer/broker for the stolen Rembrandt. On September 14 and 15, 2005, the undercover agent met with suspects in Copenhagen, Denmark to negotiate the purchase of the stolen Rembrandt painting. The suspects brought the painting to a Copenhagen hotel expecting to sell the painting for a large sum of money.
Upon authentication of the painting by the undercover agent, the CCP and the DNP arrested the four suspects and seized the Rembrandt painting.
Swedish authorities place the combined estimated value of the recovered Rembrandt and Renoir at approximately $45 million U.S. dollars. Apart from the high monetary value of the recovered works, the paintings are also national treasures of Sweden.
Environmental crimes threaten the public health and natural resources of our nation. As environmental laws become more restrictive, authorized disposal sites close, the costs of legitimate disposal increase, and the financial incentive to illegally dispose of hazardous waste grows. At any given time, the FBI has approximately 450 pending environmental crimes cases—roughly half of which are Clean Water Act cases. Most investigations are conducted jointly with other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as with state regulatory agencies.
Environmental crimes involve, among other things, air pollution, water pollution, and the illegal transportation, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. Because of the increasing number of environmental allegations received, the FBI must focus its resources on matters presenting the most serious threat to public health and natural resources. Accordingly, the FBI’s environmental crimes priorities include situations involving: 1) handling hazardous waste and pollutants in such a way as to place workers in physical danger; 2) environmental catastrophes that devastate the environment, place entire communities at risk, or cause deaths; 3) violations at federal government facilities; 4) businesses identified by regulatory agencies as having a long-standing history of violations or flagrant disregard for environmental laws; and 5) organized crime activities, generally in the solid waste industry.
The FBI’s Applicant Program manages background investigations for all persons who apply for positions with the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Justice, or the FBI. The program also oversees background checks for presidential appointees, White House staff candidates, and U.S. Court candidates. Background investigations involve interviewing neighbors and coworkers of applicants and checking criminal and credit records.
The FBI has criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country for major crimes under the Indian Country Crimes Act (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1152), the Indian Country Major Crimes Act (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1153), and the Assimilative Crimes Act (Title 18, United States Code, Section 13). The 1994 Crime Act expanded federal criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country in such areas as guns, violent juveniles, drugs, and domestic violence. Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the FBI has jurisdiction over any criminal act directly related to casino gaming. The FBI also investigates civil rights violations, environmental crimes, public corruption, and government fraud occurring in Indian Country. The FBI maintains a liaison relationship with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to include the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, National Native American Law Enforcement Association, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Arts and Crafts Board, and the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime.
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