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What We Investigate

What We Investigate

FBI Agent Collects Evidence from Exploded Car (AP Photo)

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

Our central goal is to prevent terrorist attacks by identifying and disrupting the plots of international and domestic terrorists and dismantling terrorist cells. We strive to cut off terrorist financing and minimize other forms of support provided by terrorist sympathizers through intelligence sharing with partners worldwide and by providing strategic and operational threat analysis to decision makers and the wider intelligence community.

This counterterrorism mission is led locally by our Knoxville Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which was created in 2002 on the heels of the 9/11 attacks. The task force—made up of representatives from local, state, and federal agencies—runs down all potential terrorism leads daily. The JTTF develops and investigates cases against individuals who are involved in criminal activity and have a nexus to terrorism, as well as those who provide material support. The JTTF collects intelligence on emerging threats and proactively identifies threats that may impact national security.

The work of the JTTF is enhanced by the Knoxville Field Intelligence Group, which centralizes and spearheads the analysis and sharing of terrorism-related intelligence (and all major threats) both inside and outside the bureau. The JTTF also works closely with the Tennessee Fusion Center, which supports law enforcement and intelligence partners by collecting and disseminating suspicious activity as well as intelligence analysis products.

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 Knoxville History page for past investigations.

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 Knoxville, we have a dedicated foreign counterintelligence squad 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. And see our Press Room for current cases and our Knoxville 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.

In Knoxville, we have a squad dedicated to cyber crimes and attacks, and we participate in a variety of multi-agency partnerships.

For more information on the FBI’s national efforts, see our Cyber Investigations webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases.

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…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 Knoxville focus on violations of federal law—such as bribery, contract and procurement fraud, antitrust, environmental crimes, and election fraud—by public officials in local, state, and federal government, as well as violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

For more information on the FBI’s national efforts, see our Public Corruption webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases.

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 Knoxville.

For more information on our overall efforts, see our Civil Rights webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases.

6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises

Most of our work in this priority throughout the Knoxville 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 a squad dedicated to fighting white-collar crime in the Knoxville region. The squad focuses on fraud generally and health care fraud.

For more information, see our White-Collar Crime webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases.

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 Knoxville, 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 Knoxville History page for past investigations.