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.
The Washington Field Office (WFO) has 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
This is the Washington Field Office’s number one priority. To head off terrorist attacks, we:
- Identify and disrupt the plots of international and domestic terrorist operatives and cells;
- Cut off terrorist financing and undercut other forms of support provided by terrorist sympathizers;
- Share information and intelligence with federal, state, local, and tribal partners worldwide; and
- Provide strategic and operational threat analysis to decision makers and the wider intelligence community.
Our work locally is led by our Washington Joint Terrorism Task Force, created in 1993 and strengthened in the days following the 9/11 attacks. The task force—made up of representatives from 34 local, state, and federal agencies—investigates any and all terrorism leads, develops and investigates cases, provides support for special events, and proactively identifies trends and threats that may impact the safety and security of our local citizens and the nation.
The work of the task force is bolstered by the WFO Field Intelligence Group, which centralizes and spearheads the analysis and sharing of terrorism-related intelligence (and intelligence on all major threats), both inside and outside the Bureau.
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 U.S. secrets from more places than ever before. They are after our country’s most significant classified information—from military plans to national security vulnerabilities to our own intelligence activities. They also want our nation’s trade secrets, innovations that give us a leg up in the global marketplace and technologies that could be used to develop or improve weapons of mass destruction.
In the Washington Field Office, we have dedicated foreign counterintelligence personnel who, in line with the FBI’s National Strategy for Counterintelligence, work to keep weapons of mass destruction and other embargoed technologies from falling into wrong hands. Our foreign counterintelligence personnel also protect secrets of the U.S. government (including the intelligence community) and critical national assets and help to strengthen the national threat picture by proactively 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.
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, hostile intelligence operations carried out over the Internet, and more traditional cyber crimes and fraud. Our work includes identifying and stopping:
- Individuals and enterprises behind the most serious computer intrusions and the spread of malicious code; and
- The most significant perpetrators of Internet fraud and identity theft.
In the Washington Field Office, we have a squad dedicated to cyber crimes and attacks, and we participate in a variety of multi-agency partnerships. See our Partnerships webpage and People webpage for details.
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 are protected to verdicts handed down in courts and the quality of our roads and schools. This takes a significant toll on our wallets too, wasting billions of tax dollars every year.
WFO investigations focus on violations of federal law such as bribery, contract and procurement fraud, antitrust violations, environmental crimes, and election fraud by public officials in local, state, and federal government. We also investigate violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to prevent corporations from gaining unfair advantage through the payment of bribes overseas.
5. Protect Civil Rights
The FBI is the lead agency for investigating violations of federal civil rights laws. The Washington Field Office aggressively investigates and works 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.
6. Combat Transnational/National Criminal Organizations and Enterprises
Criminal organizations—from mob families to street gangs to drug trafficking outfits—spread violence and crime in our communities and create underground economies that undercut free enterprise.
Most of the Washington Field Office’s work in these priority programs focuses on violent gangs and drugs through a variety of law enforcement partnerships. See our Partnerships webpage 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.
The Washington Field Office has multiple squads dedicated to fighting white-collar crimes in the region. Some personnel are focused on investigations regarding general frauds; others specialize on such priorities as health care fraud, mortgage fraud, and financial frauds.
For more information, see our White-Collar Crime webpage. And see our for current cases and our 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 the Washington Field Office, we work closely with a host of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and intelligence community partners to address the full range of violent crimes. See our Partnerships webpage for details.
The Washington Field Office also has special agents and intelligence analysts who work on the Innocent Images National Initiative and investigate online child pornography and child sexual exploitation. The Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation Task Force has put together a series of tips to help parents and their children navigate safely online.