Federal Agencies

What are the Various Federal Investigation Agencies?

Federal criminal offenses are investigated by different federal agencies. While federal criminal charges are ultimately brought by the United States Attorney’s Office, their investigators are performed by the Special Agents of  various federal agencies.  And FYI, while they are ALL called “Special Agents,”  that term does not signify anything other than that person is a federal agent.

There are many federal agencies that are tasked with investigating violations of United States’ statutes or regulations  or enforcing federal laws. We have set forth some of these agencies below, as well as some of the areas of law they oversee.


The FBI is short for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  This agency oversees the enforcement of many federal laws and investigates a variety of criminal activities. The FBI has the authority and responsibility to investigate specific crimes assigned to it.  These crimes include child pornography offenses, many types of fraud, such as wire and mail fraud, money laundering charges, bank fraud offenses, and many more.  The FBI frequently  provides other law enforcement agencies with cooperative services and can be part of a task force with other federal agencies or state or local police forces.


The DEA  (Drug Enforcement Agency) enforces the controlled substances statutes and other regulations involved controlled substances of the United States.  It is the lead agency for domestic enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act (21 USC  § 841 et al.) and has the sole responsibility for coordinating and pursuing United States drug investigations domestically and abroad. The DEA works closely with other agencies on cases where jurisdictions overlap, or where the crimes involved other statutes, such as firearms or fraud.


The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) is responsible for the investigation and prevention of federal offenses involving the unlawful use, manufacture, and possession of firearms and explosives; acts of arson and bombings; and illegal trafficking of alcohol and tobacco products. The ATF works closely with other federal agencies and local law enforcement officers through task forces.


The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) was created after the Wall Street Stock Market Crash of 1929.  The SEC enforces laws involving stock exchanges, including laws aimed at preventing  market manipulation. The SEC enforces the U.S. investment security laws  and also works with other federal agencies to investigate white collar crimes.


The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is responsible for public security and deals with efforts in anti-terrorism, immigration and customs, cyber security, disaster prevention and management, and border security. Additionally, it works with other agencies to target foreign threats. The DHS also has two sub-agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Both of these sub agencies work closely with the FBI.


The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) is responsible for collecting federal taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code. The agency works on all federal tax violations as well as many white-collar crimes. Additionally, the IRS works closely with the SEC on investigations dealing with bank, mortgage, and securities fraud, and the FBI in other fraud matters.


The USPIS (United States Postal Inspection Service) enforces over 200 federal statutes that defend the nation’s mail system from illegal or dangerous use. Its jurisdiction includes any crimes that affect or fraudulently use the postal system. USPIS works closely with other law enforcement agencies, for example, with the DEA to eliminate mailing of illicit drugs.


USSS (U.S. Secret Service) conducts criminal investigations of federal financial crimes and also investigates threats that are made against the safety of members of the federal executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. These are the special agents that you see protecting the President of the United States. Additionally, the USSS works closely with many agencies including the  DHS to investigate other crimes.

These are just some of the federal investigative agencies – there  are several others.  If you or a loved one are approached or threatened by any federal agent, you should not speak to them without an attorney.   You need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to protect your Constitutional rights.  LGR Law, and Lorraine Gauli-Rufo, have over 25 years of federal criminal defense experience.  Contact them immediately if you are contacted by a federal agent.   We fight for your rights and protect your freedom.  Call (973) 239 4300 or email us at [email protected].  Visit our website at www.lgrlawgroup.com for more information on what we do.

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