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 child predators to serial killers.
We currently have jurisdiction over violations in more than 200 categories of federal law. Our investigations into these violations generally fall under three national security priorities and five criminal priorities as follows:
1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack
Our overriding priority is to head off terrorist attacks by identifying and disrupting the plots of international and domestic terrorist operatives and cells, cutting off terrorist financing and other forms of support, sharing intelligence, and providing strategic and operational threat analysis to decision makers and the intelligence community.
The San Francisco Joint Terrorism Task Force leads our local counterterrorism efforts. The task force—organized in 1998 and strengthened in the days following the attacks of 9/11—includes personnel from more than 40 different local, state, and federal agencies. Together, these individuals look into all terrorism leads, develop and investigate cases, provide support for special events, and proactively identify potential threats to the Bay Area and the nation.
The work of the task force is bolstered by the San Francisco Field Intelligence Group, which spearheads the analysis and sharing of intelligence both inside an outside the FBI. The field intelligence group also joins with the multi-agency Regional Terrorism Threat Assessment Center to form the Central California Intelligence Center, which supports law enforcement and intelligence partners in 34 counties across the state.
For more information on the FBI’s national efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, see our Counterterrorism page. And see our Press Room for current cases and our San Francisco History page for past investigations.
2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage
Today, as in the past, foreign spies want our country’s juiciest classified information. But more than ever before they are also trying to steal trade secrets and technologies that could undermine the economic health of the U.S. and even our national security.
In San Francisco, our dedicated foreign counterintelligence squads work to protect U.S. government secrets, keep proprietary technologies from falling into the wrong hands, and help strengthen the national threat picture by gathering information and intelligence. 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.
Because Silicon Valley occupies such a prominent place in the economy of the Bay Area, San Francisco also has a hybrid cyber/counterintelligence squad dedicated to disrupting espionage efforts targeting the technology sector.
3. Protect the United States from high-tech crimes and cyber attacks.
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 San Francisco, we have investigators dedicated to cyber crimes and attacks, and we participate in a variety of multi-agency partnerships, including the Silicon Valley Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory. See our Partnerships page for more details.
4. Combat public corruption at all levels
Corruption in government threatens the very foundations of our democracy. When those entrusted with the leadership, safety, and general welfare of our society betray that trust, we all pay the price. Public corruption also squanders billions of tax dollars each year.
Our investigations in San Francisco focus on violations of federal law by public officials in local, state, and federal government. Subjects of these investigations are often involved in bribery, contract fraud, election fraud, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The San Francisco Division also has its own public corruption hotline for tips: 800-376-5991.
5. Protect civil rights
The FBI is the lead agency for investigating violations of federal civil rights laws, and in San Francisco we aggressively investigate and work to prevent hate crimes, color of law abuses, human trafficking, and freedom of access to clinic entrances violations. As part of our outreach efforts, we have also established relationships with local and national civic groups representing people of various ethnic and religious backgrounds.
6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises
Criminal organizations—from mob families drug trafficking cartels—sow violence and crime in our communities.
Most of our work in this priority throughout San Francisco Division focuses on violent gangs and drugs through a variety of law enforcement partnerships. See our Partnerships page for details.
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 three squads dedicated to fighting white-collar crime in the San Francisco region. During our investigations we work closely with our local and state partners, participating on task forces dedicated to combating mortgage fraud and health care fraud.
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 San Francisco, we work closely with a host of law enforcement partners to address the full range of violent crimes. Specifically, we lead four multi-agency Safe Streets Task Forces, which facilitate cooperation and communication among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; increase productivity; and avoid duplication of investigative efforts. See our Partnerships page for more details.