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.
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 head off terrorist attacks by identifying and disrupting the plots of international and domestic terrorist operatives and cells, by cutting off terrorist financing and undercutting other forms of support provided by terrorist sympathizers, by sharing information and intelligence with partners worldwide, and by providing strategic and operational threat analysis to decision makers and the wider intelligence community.
Our work locally is led by our Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force, created in 1981 and strengthened in the days following the 9/11 attacks. The task force—made up of representatives of 40 local, state, and federal agencies—runs down any and all terrorism leads, develops and investigates cases, provides support for special events, and proactively identifies threats that may impact the area and the nation.
The work of the task force is bolstered by the Chicago 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.
For more information on the FBI’s national efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, see our 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 juiciest 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 Chicago, we have a dedicated foreign counterintelligence program 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. 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 Chicago, we have a squad dedicated to cyber crimes and attacks, and we participate in a variety of multi-agency partnerships.
Chicago is also home to a Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (RCFL), one of several nationwide dedicated to the location and preservation of digital evidence from a variety of sources. For additional information, please visit http://www.chicagorcfl.org.
For more information on the FBI’s national efforts, see our Cyber Investigations webpage.
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 Chicago 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 Chicago.
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 Chicago Division 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.
We have six squads dedicated to fighting white-collar crime in the Chicago region. Specific investigative responsibilities include Ponzi schemes and mortgage, bank, investment, and health care fraud.
FBI Chicago also established the Identity Theft Task Force in February 2003 to aggressively investigate and prosecute one of the fastest-growing crime threats in the nation. The task force consists of investigators from state and federal law enforcement agencies, assisted by representatives of financial institutions and credit card companies. Chicago residents may report identify theft or obtain information on preventing it by calling the Identify Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338. Additional information can be found on the Identity Theft Illinois website.
For more information on the FBI’s efforts to stop fraud, 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 Chicago, we work closely with a host of law enforcement partners to address the full range of violent crimes. That includes the Chicago FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force, which is made up of special agents, Chicago police detectives, and Cook County Sheriff’s Police investigators. This task force investigates bank crimes—including robberies, burglaries, and larcenies—as well as kidnappings, extortion, armored carrier robberies, and serial killings. It also identifies and apprehends violent fugitives, prioritizing those wanted for crimes such as murder, sexual assault, robbery, and drug violations. See our Partnerships webpage for more information.
For more details on our overall national efforts, see our Violent Crime and Major Thefts webpage.