FBI Oklahoma City 2022 Operational Successes
As Written for the Oklahoman, Publication Date December 4, 2022; Additional Hyperlinks to DOJ Press Releases Added
Each and every day, the men and women of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office come to work with a fierce passion for our mission: To protect the American people and uphold the constitution of the United States. As I reflect on our work over the past year, I can confidently say the list of criminal and national security threats we face is not only growing, but also becoming more complex. Because of this, the expectations placed on our workforce have never been higher, and we are committed to maintaining the trust and confidence of the communities we serve. I believe the integrity of our organization and our people is best demonstrated through our investigations, and by highlighting just a few recent successes, my hope is that you will know the positive impact of the FBI’s efforts in Oklahoma.
Indian Country Crime
The 2020 Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma (MVO) drastically increased the FBI’s jurisdiction over felony offenses involving tribal members. Simply put, the federal government is now responsible for prosecuting crimes committed by or against Native Americans within the territories of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, Seminole, and Quapaw Tribes. Combined, all six territories encompass approximately 32,000 square miles, or 45 percent of the state, and account for a total population of almost 2 million. To put that into perspective, the FBI in Oklahoma historically managed roughly 50 criminal cases per year involving Native Americans, but the SCOTUS decision shifted several thousand Indian Country cases to us virtually overnight. As state and local law enforcement agencies suddenly found themselves without jurisdiction, dozens of violent criminals across Oklahoma were scheduled for immediate release from custody. The response from the FBI to quickly re-arrest the most dangerous offenders undeniably prevented a criminal justice disaster. When considering the higher recidivism rates reported amongst violent criminals, the FBI conservatively prevented hundreds of new offenses in the immediate aftermath of the MVO decision. This is especially noteworthy as Native Americans statistically suffer higher levels of violent crime within their communities.
In his congressional testimony earlier this year, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “The Oklahoma City Field Office now has the FBI’s largest investigative responsibility.” In response, the Bureau surged an abundance of resources in the form of Special Agents and support staff from all over the country to work temporary rotations in the areas most impacted by the MVO decision. We also strengthened our partnerships by deputizing several hundred state, local, and tribal police officers as FBI Safe Trails Task Force Officers, allowing them to lead and assist with federal investigations. In addition, Director Wray made a formal request to Congress for dozens of new permanent positions throughout Oklahoma, with the goal of prioritizing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons cases, and pursuing justice for victims under newly expanded legislation such as the Violence Against Women’s Act and Savanna’s Act.
It’s no secret that modern criminal organizations are becoming more dangerous and sophisticated, but the
FBI has never been more poised to take on the challenge. In 2022, we proudly announced one of the most
prolific criminal enterprises operating right here in the heart of Oklahoma City was successfully
dismantled. This would not have been possible without the strategic coordination of the United States
Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City Police Department, and other
valuable law enforcement partners. The culmination of this five-year, statewide investigation into a
violent drug trafficking gang is best illustrated by the following accomplishments:
- Over 160 federal indictments
- 2400 pounds of methamphetamine seized
- Over $1.4 million in cash seized
- 266 firearms taken off the street
I have no doubt the citizens of Oklahoma are safer as a result of this investigation and the extraordinary
efforts of the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. Our dedicated partnerships with other local, state, and federal
agencies have enhanced the impact of our cases in ways I simply can’t quantify. We will continue to
work tirelessly with our allies in the fight against violent crime in Oklahoma and across the nation.
The FBI has remained vigilant against the growing threat of nation-state and criminal cyber actors, and
this year we’ve imposed risk and consequences on many of our technical adversaries. For example, three
defendants were charged in the Western District of Oklahoma with violating federal wire fraud and
money laundering statutes in an operation to sell over $88 million in stolen software licenses from Avaya
Holdings Corporation. This massive scheme prevented Avaya from profiting from its intellectual property
as the defendants undercut the global market in the company’s software licenses, and developed into the
second-largest software piracy case ever prosecuted in U.S. history. Additionally, two of Oklahoma’s
own cyber-trained Special Agents were honored this year by Director Wray with the 30th Annual
Director’s Award for Excellence in an Outstanding Cyber Investigation. For over five years, the FBI and
Department of Justice officials worked to disrupt the complex operations of a malicious, cyber-enabled
group whose mission is to further Russia’s geopolitical objectives and solidify the country’s influence
abroad. This investigation resulted in the indictment of six Russian military intelligence officers
responsible for executing the costliest cyber-attack in history.
These are just a few of the many successes we have worked toward over the past year. The impact of our
work has only been enhanced by the collaboration and support of our government, private sector, and
community partners. We are honored and humbled to serve alongside them and remain steadfast in our
joint commitment to the citizens of Oklahoma.
Edward J. Gray, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Oklahoma City