FBI Authority to Investigate Violations of Subtitle E of Title 26 or 18 U.S.C. Sections 921-930: Memorandum Opinion for the Acting Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division [June 21, 1996]   [open pdf - 25KB]

"The Criminal Division has asked us whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation ('FBI') has authority to participate in investigations of weapons and explosives offenses under 26 U.S.C. §§ 5001-5881 (subtitle E) and 18 U.S.C. §§ 921-930. […] To date, such investigations have been conducted exclusively by the Department of the Treasury, specifically by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The FBI is concerned that its lack of participation in these investigations has prevented it from fully performing its role as the lead federal agency for the investigation of terrorism. Cf. Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, § 702(a), 110 Stat. 1214, 1291 ('AEDPA') ('[T]he Attorney General shall have primary investigative responsibility for all Federal crimes of terrorism.'); Presidential Decision Directive 39 (June 21, 1995) ('PDD 39'). We conclude that the FBI has authority to participate in investigations of the above listed offenses, but that the primary responsibility for investigating violations of the above sections of titles 18 and 26 rests with the Department of the Treasury. Where, however, the FBI has a reasonable expectation that an investigation involves a crime of terrorism over which a statute or PDD 39 has granted primary responsibility to the FBI, the FBI's lead role may be extended to cover crimes as to which lead responsibility would otherwise reside elsewhere."

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