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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

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.

The International Terrorism Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) squad in Minneapolis specifically targets threats from international terrorist organizations and their members, facilitators, and supporters. The task force investigators collect, analyze, and disseminate information; gather evidence that can lead to criminal prosecution; and work to prevent terrorist acts.

The Minneapolis Division also investigates domestic terrorism. This responsibility includes being prepared to successfully handle crises and consequences of terrorist attacks utilizing weapons of mass destruction and to manage and support designated special events.

For more information on the FBI’s national efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, see our Counterterrorism webpage. See our Press Room for current cases.

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.

The National Foreign Intelligence Program in the Minneapolis Division conducts investigations that enable it to collect, analyze, and use information that identifies and neutralizes the activities of foreign powers and their agents adversely affecting U.S. national security.

For more information on the FBI’s national program, see our Counterintelligence webpage and see our Press Room for current cases.

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.

The Minneapolis Division’s Cyber Crime Squad investigates intrusions, attacks on systems and networks, and incidents involving data loss, manipulation, and theft. Together with the Department of Homeland Security, investigators are responsible for guarding the critical infrastructures within our three-state jurisdiction. See the Partnerships page for details.

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

The FBI has investigated corruption in government since its earliest days as an agency. Public corruption presents a fundamental threat to society because it undermines the effectiveness of our democracy and the nation’s trust in government. The FBI plays a major role in rooting out this corruption, and these cases are among the most sensitive that we handle.

The FBI is responsible for investigating violations of federal law by public officials at the local, state, and federal levels of governments. The FBI also investigates allegations of fraud related to federal government procurement, contracts, and federally funded programs. Priority investigative areas include bribery of local, state, and federal officials; law enforcement corruption; corruption on Native American reservations; election/campaign finance corruption; and foreign bribery/contract corruption.

To help combat the public corruption threat, the Minneapolis Division has actively educated community leaders and concerned citizens on public corruption and related matters such as civil rights. Concentrated efforts by the Minneapolis Division have fostered excellent working relationships that mutually benefit our public corruption program and the community.

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 Minneapolis Division, like the rest of the Bureau, works to protect your rights through the enforcement of federal civil rights laws. Specifically, the Minneapolis Division investigates allegations involving the top priorities of the civil rights program—hate crimes, color of law violations, human trafficking, and violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

A hate crime is generally defined as a traditional criminal offense motivated by bias. Under certain circumstances, the use of force or threat of force against an individual because of their perceived race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, gender, or sexual orientation may violate federal statute.

A person acts under the “color of law” when he or she uses the authority granted by a government agency to deprive another individual of a constitutional right. Most color of law violations fall into one of five categories—excessive force, sexual assaults, false arrest and fabrication of evidence, deprivation of property, and failure to keep from harm.

Human trafficking laws prohibit the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a victim to provide labor, services, or acts of commercial sex. The crime of human trafficking is distinct from prostitution and smuggling due to the exploited vulnerability of the victims. Sex trafficking of minors is investigated through the Minneapolis Division’s violent crimes against children program (see priority #8 below for additional details).

The FACE Act made it a federal crime to willfully injure, intimidate, or interfere with those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health care services. These crimes are committed through force, threat of force, or physical obstruction. The FBI works closely with reproductive health care providers to ensure the safety of patients and employees of those facilities.

Civil rights investigations are reviewed by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Together, we work closely with federal, state, and local partners to effectively investigate the above crimes and determine whether federal prosecution is appropriate.

For additional information on our overall efforts, see our Civil Rights webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases. If you believe that you have information regarding a violation of civil rights, please contact the Minneapolis Division at (763) 569-8000.

6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises

Our investigations into organized crime focus on structured groups such as the Italian Mafia (also known as La Cosa Nostra), Russian/Eurasian crime rings, and Asian and Nigerian criminal enterprises.

Learn more about our national work to combat organized crime and violent street gangs. And see our Press Room for current cases.

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.

White-collar crime involves corruption, financial fraud, and government fraud, and it can have a devastating impact on our nation’s public welfare and economic health. It may seem that no one really gets hurt in these crimes, but the agents and officers who work these cases can tell you differently. Many victims lose their life savings. Businesses fail, employees are laid off, retirement accounts are depleted, and faith in business and government is eroded. In some instances, these cases involve suicide and even murder. Recent trends suggest that gangs, drug dealers, and other violent criminals are turning to white-collar crime because it is more profitable and less risky than some of their traditional illegal activities.

A recent survey by the Division revealed that white-collar crime is significant in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, where 75 percent of the state’s population resides. Law enforcement agencies expect the FBI to continue to be a leader in these complex criminal investigations.

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

There are a total of 14 Indian reservations in Minneapolis’ territory that are under federal jurisdiction, encompassing a total of nearly three million acres. Crimes on reservations include homicide, aggravated assault, rape, and child sexual and physical abuse cases. The FBI has primary jurisdiction for investigating felonies that occur on these reservations. The Minneapolis Division consistently leads the FBI nationwide in the number of indictments and convictions based on these crimes. We also help find wanted fugitives and bank robbers on these reservations.

Violent incident crimes include kidnapping, extortion, car-jacking, armored car robberies, and bank robberies. Bank robberies are the most common violent incident crimes.

The Minneapolis Division has experienced a major influx of gangs from larger metropolitan areas, most notably Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles. While the primary criminal activity continues to be drug trafficking, these gangs participate in numerous violent crimes as a result of the trafficking.

Over the past several years, there has been a spike in gang-related activity on the various Indian reservations throughout the Minneapolis Division. The FBI has created several task forces on the reservations to address this problem. In addition to FBI agents, the task forces include officers and investigators from county law enforcement agencies and Indian Tribal Police forces.

As part of a national reorganization, the Minneapolis Division consolidated resources in 2012 to form a violent crimes against children (VCAC) program. The aim of the reorganization is to expand the capacity of the FBI to combat violent crimes against children that fall under our jurisdiction and authority. VCAC investigations include child abductions, domestic prostitution of minors, production of child pornography, trafficking of child pornography, child sex tourism, and international parental kidnapping.

To help capture wanted fugitives, the Minnesota Fugitive Task Force was established in 1992. It is made up of FBI agents, officers from the Minneapolis and St. Paul Police Departments, deputies from the Hennepin and Ramsey County Sheriff’s Offices, and deputies from the U.S. Marshals Service. The task force pursues individuals who have outstanding felony warrants for violent crimes. Since its inception, the task force has apprehended some of the most violent offenders in the Minneapolis Division territory. It is also responsible for tracking local fugitives who flee Minnesota to avoid being prosecuted. Working with other FBI fugitive task forces, the Minnesota Fugitive Task Force has been able to locate and arrest wanted felons from the Twin Cities metropolitan area, regardless of where they have fled. The task force also locates and arrests dangerous fugitives from other jurisdictions who attempt to hide in Minnesota.

Interstate theft includes the theft of shipments of goods en route to other states, interstate transportation of stolen property, stolen motor vehicles, the theft of valuable art and artifacts, and jewelry theft. The Minneapolis Division provides assistance and intelligence to other FBI divisions and local authorities with regard to these crimes.

The Minneapolis Division recognizes the need for the public’s help in combating violent crime. Anyone with any information regarding any of the violent crimes described above is encouraged to call us at (763) 569-8000. All information is kept strictly confidential.

For more details on our overall national efforts, see our Violent Crime and Major Thefts webpage. And see our Press Room for current cases.