FBI New York
FBI New York Press Office
(212) 384-2100
February 14, 2024

2023 New York Field Office Year in Review

As we move into 2024, I am pausing to reflect on the notable success we had at FBI New York in addressing our most significant priorities in 2023.

Last year, the FBI faced an evolving threat environment. We saw an uptick in bias-motivated violent crimes, increasingly elaborate cyber attacks, and a rise in fentanyl distribution and addiction. We also saw more complex threats posed by artificial intelligence, which is quickly becoming an amplifier for misconduct—making criminals’ work easier and our work harder. We are seeing criminals, foreign adversaries, and terrorists use artificial intelligence to exploit others for their own gain on a broader scale than ever before. These threats wreak havoc on our community, taking a toll on children and families, decreasing the sense of public safety, posing harm to local businesses, and even threatening our nation, itself.

As always, the FBI stepped up to be a leader in combating these threats. Last year, alone, FBI New York had approximately 500 indictments, 580 convictions, 620 sentencings, 820 arrests, and 3000 searches. We claimed around $1.8 billion in asset seizures and $4.9 billion in forfeitures—money that deprived criminals of ill-gotten financial rewards and that was returned to victims and the community.

In 2023, we played a key role in combating violent crime throughout our area of responsibility, to include the five boroughs of New York City, eight counties in New York State, and La Guardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports. Alongside our federal, state, local, and international partners, we worked hard to take the most egregious gang members, firearms traffickers, and child predators off the streets. Over the course of the year, we arrested approximately 420 violent criminals. We also seized 147 illegal firearms and recovered 72 child victims in 2023. Our work at rooting out violent crime occurred not only here in New York City, itself, but across the globe—including in our extraterritorial area of responsibility in Western Europe, Africa, Canada, and the United Kingdom. As part of our efforts to dismantle organized crime, the FBI—along with local and international law enforcement partners—arrested around 140 transnational organized criminals, including 16 members of the Gambino Crime Family, both here in New York and in Italy.

We also were a leader in investigating significant white-collar crime, bringing to justice those who deceive and defraud customers of their hard-earned money. Last year, FBI New York secured the conviction of Samuel Bankman-Fried, former CEO of FTX, who led one of the largest financial frauds in history. Similarly, in 2023, we charged Tornado Cash developers Roman Storm and Roman Semenov for their conspiracy to commit money laundering, after an investigation found that the company laundered more than $1 billion in criminal proceeds. We also continued to aggressively investigate public corruption—a crime that costs the U.S. government and the public billions of tax dollars each year. Last year, FBI New York led investigations into elected officials Robert Menendez and George Santos as part of our efforts to root out public corruption.

While terrorism is always the top priority for the FBI, 2023 was also unique in that it brought many challenges related to the Israel-Hamas conflict. We saw a trend of individuals inspired by the conflict to carry out terrorist attacks of their own, including Kareem Nasr, who FBI New York and Kenyan law enforcement officials arrested in Nairobi, Kenya, for attempting to provide material support to al Shabaab. Nasr, a 23- year-old U.S. citizen from New Jersey, was motivated to become a jihadi by the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack in Israel. Unfortunately, we also saw a notable increase in reports of threats against our Jewish and Muslim communities here in New York, but we worked around the clock alongside the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force to protect the public from hate crimes.

We also continued to aggressively pursue those who commit acts of violence inspired by terrorist groups. In 2017, an ISIS-inspired terrorist used a truck to murder eight victims and injure many more on a bike path in Lower Manhattan. Although over six years had passed, FBI New York remained steadfast in pursuing justice for the families, survivors, and victims of this attack. Last year, thanks to the investigative efforts of the FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, Sayfullo Saipov was found guilty of this horrifying and senseless attack; he was sentenced to eight consecutive life sentences and 260 years in prison. No matter how long it takes, we never relent in our efforts to defend the American people from the threats of terrorism or to hold the perpetrators of those attacks accountable.

On the cyber front, we faced threats that are more pervasive than ever before, and saw foreign adversaries—like China, Iran, and Russia—use cyber-espionage to illegally achieve their strategic objectives, like disrupting democracy and stealing information. Though it is becoming increasingly harder to determine where cyber-criminal activity ends and where adversarial nation-state activity begins, the FBI is leaning on a wider variety of techniques and resources to successfully combat the threat. In 2023, FBI New York led efforts to disrupt a sophisticated malware, called “Snake,” which was being used by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation to steal sensitive documents from hundreds of business computer systems across the globe. When anyone—whether a foreign state or an individual actor—puts our national security at risk, the FBI will leverage all tools available to protect our country. We are also using our capabilities to ensure we are protecting individuals and businesses who may be the target of cybercriminals.

We are equally committed to protecting the democratic freedoms of those who reside in our area of responsibility. In recent years, we’ve seen a growing, concerning trend of transnational repression, with nations like China and Iran using an array of intimidation tactics to silence those who speak out against them. These nations are also becoming increasingly brazen in their attempts to silence dissidents and defectors. This year, FBI New York arrested and charged two individuals in connection with operating a clandestine, illegal “secret police station” in an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown on behalf of the People’s Republic of China. Through this secret physical presence here in New York City, the PRC monitored and threatened people here in the U.S. who criticized its authoritarian government. While much of our counterintelligence work often takes place behind the scenes, the FBI will resolutely defend the rights of anyone and everyone who calls our country home. And, we will hold any state actors who undermine our peoples’ rights accountable for breaking our laws—just as we would hold accountable any other criminal who threatens our freedoms.

Last year, one of our own—former FBI New York Special Agent in Charge Charles McGonigal—pled guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and to commit money laundering in connection with a Russian oligarch. Throughout the investigation, the FBI was as steadfast as always in pursuing justice. We stuck to our processes, followed the facts and the truth, and achieved the right outcome. Ultimately, the FBI will do what is right to bring justice to anyone who violates the public’s trust.

These investigations capture just a fraction of the work the people of FBI New York accomplished in 2023. Our people do incredible work, across the entire spectrum of threats, to protect the American public and the people here in New York. Our achievements would not have been possible without the tireless dedication and commitment of the special agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, victim specialists, language specialists, and many other professional staff who make up FBI New York. Every day, these individuals work diligently to investigate and neutralize criminal and national security threats.

But we don’t work alone. We collaborate closely with our local, state, federal, and international law enforcement partners. We share information and resources with international law enforcement. We have open, two-way discussions with private sector partners about trends and threats. We also rely on the public to be a force multiplier in alerting us to potential crime and terror threats.

Over the last year, I have seen firsthand time and again how critical these partnerships are to accomplishing our mission. In 2024, I look forward to continuing to partner not only with other law enforcement agencies, but with the many diverse communities in New York, so that we can continue to take strides towards making our entire area of responsibility—whether in the immediate vicinity of New York City, in the nations abroad where we have responsibility for extraterritorial violations against Americans, or in the entire United States—as safe as possible for everyone.

The complex challenges we faced in 2023 certainly won’t go away in 2024. Looking at the year ahead of us, I realize there’s still a significant amount of work we have to do to address the staggering array of threats to our community—a community of which I consider myself proud to be a part. My goal is to continue building on our notable successes, developing proactive and innovative approaches, and remaining ahead of our adversaries. Thank you for your support as we continue to work to execute our vital mission. Our work is never done—Assistant Director in Charge Jim Smith, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.