The Attorney General's Criminal Investigations Division is comprised of commissioned peace officers and crime analysts who undertake a wide range of investigations and activities to support detection, prevention, and prosecution of crime. The Criminal Investigations Division of the OAG investigates and supports the prosecution of both violent crimes and white-collar crimes, including complex fraud crimes, Election Code violations, and public corruption.
The division proactively investigates online child predators and child pornographers who use the Internet and computers to victimize children. The activities of the division also include locating and arresting fugitive Texas parole absconders, and arresting convicted sex offenders who have failed to comply with mandated sex offender registration requirements.
The division prides itself on its strong partnerships and coordination with state, federal, and local law enforcement authorities. The division has staff located in Austin, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and El Paso.
Attorney General Greg Abbott established a Cyber Crimes Unit in 2003. The Unit proactively seeks out and arrests child predators who commit sex crimes against children using technology and the Internet. In part this strategy involves undercover law enforcement officers posing as children in Internet chat rooms and social networking sites. It also involves detecting, investigating, and arresting those who victimize children by creating, sharing, and distributing images of child sexual violence and exploitation.
The Unit works in coordination and cooperation with public and private entities dedicated to the detection and prevention of online child exploitation, including other Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces across the country, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the Houston Area Cyber Crime Task Force.
The Unit receives investigative leads on Internet-based child exploitation known as "Cyber Tips" through the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force network. The Unit's affiliation with other ICAC task forces has provided an excellent network of investigators who specialize in the investigation, prevention, and prosecution of child exploitation crimes.
The efforts of the Cyber Crimes Unit have lead to 130 arrests of persons who solicited sex online from persons they believed to be children and more than 150 convictions of persons who possess or distribute child pornography.
The attorney general has also placed an emphasis on educating law enforcement agencies, various interest groups, school administrators, students and the public in regard to child exploitation crimes and cyber safety. The unit is responsible for training law enforcement personnel and teaching cyber safety awareness to school administrators, students and the general public. Law enforcement officers have gained valuable investigative tools through this outreach, and educators and students have learned ways to keep themselves safer from child predators who roam the Internet.
OAG investigators utilize state-of-the-art computer equipment and software to recover deleted files and partitions, locate and preserve digital evidence and contraband, and defeat passwords and encryption. The OAG's Computer Forensics Unit has the ability to analyze many types of electronic media, including desktop and laptop computers running Windows, Macintosh, and Linux/Unix platforms; live servers (on scene and remote); digital cameras; PDAs; electronic game devices; and cell phones. The Unit supports the work of the Cyber Crimes Unit, as well as other units of the Criminal Investigations Division, the Criminal Prosecutions Division, other OAG divisions, and in unique cases external law enforcement agencies.
In May 2006 the Cyber Crimes Unit received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to establish an Internet Crimes Against Children ("ICAC") Task Force responsible for responding to online child exploitation in Southern Texas. The Southern Texas region includes the major metropolitan areas of Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, as well as rural counties in the southern two-thirds of the state.
The Attorney General's ICAC Task Force serves as a resource for all communities and agencies within this geographic area; conducts proactive and reactive investigations; and serves as an resource to other law enforcement agencies and to the public with respect to law enforcement intelligence, technical assistance, and training, prevention, and education activities.
The ICAC task force program is a national network of 59 multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task forces engaged in proactive investigations, forensic examinations, and prosecutions of those who prey on children using technology and the Internet. The ICAC task force program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by sexual predators searching for illicit contact with underage victims.
The OAG also works in cooperation and coordination with the Project Safe Childhood initiative of the U.S. Department of Justice. The goal of Project Safe Childhood is to enhance the national response to child sexual exploitation. Project Safe Childhood is implemented through a partnership of U.S. Attorneys, ICAC task forces, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement. A key component of the initiative is the coordination of federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation.
Attorney General Greg Abbott established a Fugitive Unit with the original mission of locating and arresting parole absconders who had in their criminal history a conviction for a sex crime involving a child victim. Since its inception, the Fugitive Unit has assisted local law enforcement in taking dangerous child predators and violent crime fugitives into custody. Initiatives such as "Operation Safe Halloween," "Operation Falcon I & II" target specific events or offenders, with the objective of taking dangerous felons off the streets.
In June 2005, General Abbott announced the commencement of "Operation Missing Predator." This statewide initiative identifies, locates, and leads to the arrest of convicted sex offenders who have failed to comply with mandated sex offender registration requirements.
Since August 2003, the Fugitive Unit, working in coordination and cooperation with other local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies, has arrested more than 2,600 fugitives from justice.
The Special Investigations Unit responds to a variety of law enforcement challenges throughout the state. The Unit investigates a wide variety of cases, including violent crimes and white-collar crimes, such as fraud cases, public corruption matters, and Election Code violations.
The Unit also responds as needed to events around the state. For example, during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Unit provided resources on the ground to combat price-gouging and consumer fraud.
The Money Laundering Unit focuses its efforts on disrupting and dismantling the complex money laundering efforts of organized criminal enterprises. The Unit specializes in the tracing of illegal proceeds from their origin to their eventual use or introduction into the nation's financial system. Through the analysis of banking records and transaction reports, the Unit seeks to uncover the labyrinth of transactions frequently used by drug traffickers.
The Unit provides Texas law enforcement agencies with access to Bank Secrecy Act data through a secure web connection. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Gateway System contains information that is law enforcement sensitive. This information is vital to law enforcement efforts to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorist organizations.
The Office of Attorney General serves as the conduit for all State of Texas or local requests for assistance and exchanges of information with the INTERPOL- U.S. National Central Bureau (USNCB). Police in the United States and in foreign countries are able to contact the USNCB for information pertaining to criminal records, stolen items, missing persons, or to request other types of investigatory assistance. The Office of Attorney General also receives and distributes subject lookouts and advisories among appropriate law enforcement authorities in Texas.