While the Department of Justice is the head of all criminal investigations of federal crimes, and they prosecute those accused, they actually oversee several specialized agencies tasked with carrying out the investigations. Our federal lawyers in Raleigh are looking at these agencies, each ones’ purview, and what it means if you are targeted in an investigation.
Seven Federal Law Enforcement Agencies
While the overwhelming majority of crimes are investigated and tried at the state level, crimes that cross state lines or occur on federal property, as well as anything that is in violation of the United States Code, can be investigated by federal agencies and prosecuted by the Department of Justice. There are seven primary federal agencies tasked with investigating specific violations and turning over information to prosecuting attorneys.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the largest law enforcement agency with over 30,000 agents as well as support, administrative, and analysis staff. They investigate a wide range of crimes, including drug trafficking, civil rights violations, financial crimes, and kidnapping, as well as counterterrorism and counterintelligence. In addition to independent investigations, they also frequently work with state and local governments to assist with their investigations and work with international police (INTERPOL) to track international criminals and threats to national security.
Drug Enforcement Agency
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigates and enforces all federal drug laws, primarily large-scale operations that cross state lines or deal with international trafficking. The DEA will often work with state and local agencies to provide support on large investigations and will also partner with other agencies, including the FBI, to analyze information and collect intelligence needed to break up large drug rings and trafficking operations.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, or ATF, is best known for enforcing federal weapons charges, including firearms trafficking and the illegal use and storage of explosives. The ATF was originally formed to deal with large-scale violations of alcohol sales and production during Prohibition and to deal with the organized crime that rapidly formed during this time. Once Prohibition ended, the agency’s mission changed someone to focus more on federal firearm and weapon crimes as well as interstate trafficking of illegal alcohol and tobacco. Today, the ATF’s jurisdiction is quite large, and they also investigate arson, bombings, and acts of terrorism in addition to violations of alcohol and tobacco sales and firearms trafficking.
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a criminal investigation unit in place to investigate issues of tax fraud, tax evasion, and other issues that violate federal tax codes. The IRS will often work with the Securities and Exchange Commission as securities and investment crimes also frequently involve violations of the tax code.
Securities and Exchange Commission
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was formed to regulate, and enforce laws related to investment security to protect investors and improve transparency. This agency primarily investigates white-collar, financial crimes that involve brokerage firms, investment funds, and financial advisors and while they are only allowed to bring civil actions, they can also provide evidence and aid in court proceedings with the Department of Justice.
You’re probably familiar with the United States Secret Service as the agency responsible for protecting the President and government workers from threats. This is true, the Secret Service provides protection detail to the President, members of Congress, and members of the Supreme Court. They also investigate financial crimes, including counterfeiting, financial fraud, and forgery, and work closely with the other investigative agencies within the Department of Justice.
Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security was formed to investigate all domestic threats to national security, frequently working with state and local governments and taking over cases that are believed to pose a danger to the country. Within DHS, the Citizenship and Immigration Services Unit pursues child pornography and predation while the U.S. Customs and Border Protection oversees immigration issues and investigations along the national borders. The other branch of the DHS is the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement which investigates issues of illegal immigration within the United States borders.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Federal Lawyer
If you are under investigation by a federal agency or have been arrested, you need experienced legal representation from a federal lawyer who can represent you in the Eastern District of North Carolina. To schedule a free case consultation, reach out to (919) 887-8040 or fill out the form below to get started.