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What We Investigate

What We Investigate

Evidence experts dust for prints
Evidence experts dust for prints

The FBI works around the globe to combat the most dangerous criminal and security threats facing our nation—from international and domestic terrorism to foreign counterintelligence…from cyber crime to public corruption…from organized crime to violent street gangs…from child predators to serial killers.

We currently have jurisdiction over more than 200 violations of federal law. These 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

The FBI is the lead federal law enforcement agency in the U.S. government’s fight against terrorism. Our top priority is to detect, investigate, and prevent terrorist attacks in this country and against U.S. persons and interests abroad. We accomplish this by identifying and disrupting the plots of international and domestic terrorist operatives and cells, by cutting off terrorist financing, and by undercutting other forms of support provided by terrorist sympathizers. We share information and intelligence with partners worldwide and provide strategic and operational threat analysis to decision makers and the wider intelligence community.

Our work locally is led by the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Task Force (PSJTTF), created in 2000 and strengthened in the days following the 9/11 attacks. The task force is made up of representatives of local, state, and federal agencies, which provide personnel to the FBI to conduct domestic and international terrorism investigations. The task force has two branches, one based in Seattle and one in Spokane.

The Puget Sound Counterterrorism Working Group was formed in 1998 and supports the PSJTTF by allowing various agencies in the Puget Sound area to share information and conduct terrorism investigations in cases where there is overlapping jurisdiction or the need for resources of multiple agencies not currently participating in the PSJTTF.

The Inland Northwest Regional Terrorism Task Force was formed in 1997 and is based in Spokane. It operates in conjunction with the FBI’s Salt Lake City office and serves the same purpose as the Puget Sound Counterterrorism Working Group for eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana.

The work of these task forces is bolstered by the Seattle Field Intelligence Group, which centralizes and spearheads the analysis and sharing of terrorism-related intelligence and intelligence on all major threats.

For more information on the FBI’s national efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, see our Counterterrorism webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases and our Seattle History page for past investigations.

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

The FBI is the lead agency for conducting and coordinating foreign counterintelligence investigations in the United States. We work to identify, prevent, and defeat intelligence operations conducted by any foreign power within this country or against certain U.S. interests abroad. Our investigative efforts have traditionally focused on strategic military threats, but we are increasingly targeting espionage and theft of trade secrets and intellectual property. These illegal acts negatively affect our country’s economic health and competitiveness and ultimately our national security.

For more information on the FBI’s national program, see our Counterintelligence webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases and our Seattle History page for past investigations.

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.

The Seattle Northwest Cyber Crimes Task Force is charged with protecting our community, our region, and our nation against terrorist and criminal cyber threats. See our Partnerships webpage for details.

For more information on the FBI’s national efforts, see our Cyber Investigations webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases and our Seattle History page for past investigations.

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 and the quality of our roads and schools. It wastes billions of tax dollars every year.

For more information on the FBI’s national efforts, see our Public Corruption webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases and our Seattle History page for past investigations.

5. Protect civil rights

Our Civil Rights Program investigates a variety of color of law violations involving police misconduct, such as excessive force or fabrication of evidence, as well as hate crimes involving racial, religious, and housing discrimination. We also investigate violence against reproductive health clinics and cases of involuntary servitude and slavery, often related to immigrants held against their will.

For more information on our overall efforts, see our Civil Rights webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases and our Seattle History page for past investigations.

6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises

The Seattle FBI investigates multi-jurisdictional organizations or criminal enterprises that engage in organized crime, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Our Organized Crime/Drug Program uses an intelligence-driven approach to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations and enterprises through prosecution and through the seizure and forfeiture of assets used in, and derived from, criminal activity.

Seattle is also designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which allows participating agencies to receive funding from the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, D.C. to conduct investigations of high-level drug distribution enterprises.

Learn more about our national work to combat organized crime and violent street gangs. And see our Press Room for current cases and our Seattle History page for past investigations.

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.

For more information, see our White-Collar Crime webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases and our Seattle History page for past investigations.

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 Seattle, 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. And see our Press Room for current cases and our Seattle History page for past investigations.