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What We Investigate

What We Investigate

The FBI works around the globe to combat the most dangerous criminal and security threats facing our country—from international and domestic terrorists to spies on U.S. soil…from cyber villains to corrupt government officials…from mobsters to violent street thugs…from child predators to serial killers.

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Pittsburgh evidence experts at the 9/11 crash site in Pennsylvania

We currently have jurisdiction over violations in more than 200 categories of federal law. They generally fall under our three national security priorities and our five criminal priorities as follows:

National Security Priorities:

1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack

It’s our overriding priority—to protect Americans and U.S. interests abroad from terrorist attacks by preventing, disrupting, and defeating terrorist operations. The FBI’s international terrorism investigations focus on identifying individuals or groups through an exhaustive development of intelligence to identify terrorist capabilities. Through the joint efforts of federal, state, and local partners, our international terrorism squads collect, share, and exploit this intelligence to target those involved in terrorism support, training, recruitment, financing, and attack planning against the United States.

Locally, this mission is led by the Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia Joint Terrorism Task Force, created on August 31, 1999 and strengthened in the days following the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 and the 9/11 attacks. The task force is made up of 16 local, state, and federal agencies that address all terrorism investigative matters impacting the region and the nation. There are also Joint Terrorism Task Force annexes working out of Erie, Pennsylvania and Clarksburg, West Virginia. The Joint Terrorism Task Force work is augmented by the Pittsburgh Field Intelligence Group, which centralizes and leads the analysis and sharing of terrorism-related intelligence inside and outside the intelligence community. See our Partnerships webpage for more details.

For more information on the FBI’s national efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, see the FBI’s Counterterrorism webpage.

2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage

Today, more foreign spies—not just traditional adversaries but also allies, hackers, and terrorists—are trying to steal more of our secrets from more places than ever before. What do they want? Our country’s most prized classified information, of course—from military plans to national security vulnerabilities to our own intelligence activities. But increasingly, they also want our country’s trade secrets—innovations that give us a leg up in the global marketplace—and seemingly harmless technologies that could be used to develop or improve weapons of mass destruction.

In Pittsburgh, we have a dedicated foreign counterintelligence squad that—in line with the FBI’s National Strategy for Counterintelligence—works to keep weapons of mass destruction and other embargoed technologies from falling into wrong hands, to protect secrets of the U.S. government (including the intelligence community) and critical national assets, and to help strengthen the national threat picture by proactively gathering information and intelligence. This squad strives to identify and neutralize foreign intelligence activity directed against the United States. Our work includes knowing the key targets in our territory, developing strategic partnerships with area institutions, and disrupting the efforts of insiders and key nations.

For more information on the FBI’s national program, see our Counterintelligence webpage.

3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes

The FBI leads the national effort to investigate high-tech crimes, including cyber-based terrorism and espionage, computer and network intrusions, and major cyber fraud and identify theft. To stay in front of current and emerging trends, we gather and share information and intelligence with public and private sector partners worldwide.

In Pittsburgh, we have a squad dedicated to cyber crimes and attacks, and we participate in a variety of multi-agency partnerships. In addition, we also work with public and private entities as well as academia to leverage our efforts to address the wide variety of threats targeting our nation’s information infrastructure. See our Partnerships webpage for additional details.

For more information on the FBI’s national efforts, see our Cyber Investigations webpage.

Criminal Priorities

4. Combat public corruption at all levels

Corruption in government threatens our country’s democracy and national security, impacting everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts…to the quality of our roads and schools. And it takes a significant toll on our pocketbooks, too, wasting billions of tax dollars every year.

Our investigations in Pittsburgh focus on violations of federal law by public officials in local, state, and federal government, such as bribery, contract and procurement fraud, antitrust, environmental crimes, election fraud, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

For more information on the FBI’s national efforts, see our Public Corruption webpage.

5. Protect civil rights

The FBI is the lead agency for investigating violations of federal civil rights laws…and we take that responsibility seriously. Specifically, we aggressively investigate and work to prevent hate crime, color of law abuses, human trafficking, and freedom of access to clinic entrances violations—the four top priorities of our civil rights program. We focus on all of these issues in Pittsburgh.

For more information on our overall efforts, see our Civil Rights webpage.

6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises

Criminal organizations—from mob families to street gangs to drug trafficking outfits—sow violence and crime in our communities and create underground economies that undercut free enterprise.

Most of our work in this priority throughout the Pittsburgh Division focuses on violent gangs and drugs through a variety of law enforcement partnerships. See our Partnerships webpage for details.

Learn more about our national work to combat organized crime and violent street gangs.

7. Combat major white-collar crime

Fraud—the art of deliberate deception for unlawful gain—is as old as history; the term “white-collar crime” was reportedly coined in 1939 and has since become synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. Today’s financial criminals and con artists are more savvy and sophisticated than ever, engineering everything from complex stock and health care frauds and intellectual property rip-offs.

We have two squads dedicated to fighting white-collar crime in the Pittsburgh region—one that addresses public corruption and government fraud and the other that handles the healthcare fraud, financial institution fraud, and all other white-collar crime violations.

For more information, see our White-Collar Crime webpage.

8. Combat significant violent crime

Even with our post-9/11 national security responsibilities, we continue to play a key role in combating violent crime in big cities and local communities across the United States. Beyond our work targeting violent gangs and other criminal enterprises, we focus on such issues as crimes against children (including online predators), crime on Indian reservations, the search for wanted fugitives, serial killings, kidnapping, murder for hire, bank robberies, and special crimes like the carriage of weapons on aircraft and crime on the high seas.

In Pittsburgh, we work closely with a host of law enforcement partners to address the full range of violent crimes. See our Partnerships webpage for details.

For more details on our overall national efforts, see our Violent Crime and Major Thefts webpage.