The Association of Special Agents (ASA) for the California Department of Justice (DOJ) represents approximately 450 special agents and special-agent supervisors working as the enforcement arm for the Attorney General.
This elite, but dwindling, group of sworn peace officers are generally better educated and more experienced than many of their law-enforcement counterparts and are often called upon for their expertise and ability to coordinate joint activities between local, state, and federal agencies throughout the state.
Special Agents are a force multiplier, assisting agencies with expertise, equipment and personnel, whether it is running a narcotic task force, investigating a murder, political corruption or disrupting a violent gang's operation. Small and even large law enforcement agencies can require supplemental assistance at times in today's tight economic realities.
special agent operations include:
- gathering intelligence on criminal organizations and gangs
- setting up undercover operations/enforcement
- providing ground and aerial surveillance
- collecting evidence through wiretaps and forensic analysis
- taking the lead in combating methamphetamine production and distribution
- fighting high-tech crimes
- hunting down fugitives and sexual predators
The skills and resources special agents possess are provided to other law enforcement agencies at their request. Because these resources can move throughout the state, it is more cost effective than tying them to a smaller jurisdiction.
Elder abuse, gaming violations, fraud, and illegal firearms also fall under the purview of DOJ special agents.
Post 9/11, special agents established the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center to provide law enforcement with statewide intelligence support in order to combat terrorism. DOJ also provides information on traditional criminal activities through statewide information clearinghouses.
Special agents are frequently cross-sworn as federal officers in order to allow them to complete their cases outside of California. They are also frequently chosen by their peer agencies as the lead group in multi-jurisdictional cases.
Among the ranks of the ASA are special agents, special-agent supervisors, as well as DOJ pilots and Western States Information Network Coordinators. ASA members work throughout various divisions within the Attorney General's office. Those divisions divide into various bureaus and subdivisions, which include:
Bureau of Firearms (BOF)
Conducts undercover investigations for violations of state firearms laws, works closely with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), trains local law-enforcement officials on firearms law and regulations, inspects licensed firearms dealers, lends safety assistance to gun show promoters, locates and arrests felons in possession of firearms; and testifies as expert witnesses.
Bureau of Gambling Control (BGC)
Investigates casinos and card clubs throughout California for violations of California\'s gaming laws. Violation of state gaming laws by casinos and clubs as well as their employees and customers are the focus of BGC investigations. They also investigate complex thefts, robberies, scams and other crimes relatedd to the casinos and clubs.
Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence (BII)
The state's FBI counterpart, which investigates a wide-variety of crimes including:
- sexual predators
- violent and repeat offenders
- serial crimes
- Internet crimes against children
- money laundering
- public corruption
- false imprisonment
- and much, much more
Examples of BII task forces include:
The Foreign Prosecution and Law Enforcement Program that assists state and local law enforcement agencies:
- in the location and prosecution of suspects who are Mexican nationals and flee to Mexico after committing major felony crimes in California
- in the deportation from Mexico of American fugitives who are wanted in California for homicide and child abduction cases
- in providing for the prosecution in Mexico of Mexican citizens who are accused of committing violent crimes in California
- in investigative assistance to foreign countries in matters that require the seizure of evidence, suspect interviews, and other requests from a foreign nation that may require investigative support
- in technical and logistical support to agencies requesting assistance involving the return of abducted children
- in the voluntary return or deportation of a foreign national who is a fugitive.
The Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force that effectively enforces the sex crimes and sexual exploitation laws of the state of California as expressed in the Penal Code, and any other applicable federal laws. The SAFE Task Force targets most of its investigations toward the apprehension and monitoring of Sexual Violent Predators (SVP), 290 sexual registrants, and lends assistance to law enforcement agencies on active investigations of a sexual nature. SAFE Task Forces ensure well-coordinated enforcement efforts in our region and allows for better information sharing among the various law enforcement agencies participating in the task force program.
The Special Operations Program (SOP) is a statewide Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence program committed to terrorism prevention and mitigation through participation in programs such as the Statewide Threat Assessment System (STAS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Personnel assigned to the SOP also interface with the bureau\'s Major Crimes Team program as it relates to fulfilling the Homeland Security Mission. Teams of special agent supervisors, special agents, and criminal intelligence analysts are imbedded in both the State and Regional Threat Assessment Centers located in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco and are responsible for gathering, collating, analyzing, and disseminating collected information in addition to processing tips and leads within their respective areas of responsibility. In partnership with the FBI and DOJ/JTTF special agents focus on domestic terrorism issues such as the radicalization of prison inmates by Islamic militants or anti-government extremists.
Bureau of Medical Fraud and Elder Abuse (BMFEA)
Works to protect California's elderly and disabled from physical abuse and fiduciary fraud. Agents also investigate fraud in the Medi-Cal program. The BMFEA Elder Abuse unit subdivides into Operation Guardians, which conduct surprise inspections at skilled nursing facilities; Violent Crime Unit, which investigates and prosecutes physical attacks against the elderly or disabled; and a Facilities Enforcement Team, which investigates and prosecutes nursing homes, hospitals, and residential-care facilities for substandard care. The Medi-Cal Fraud Unit saves California tax payers millions of dollars each year through the investigation and prosecution of un-trained and unlicensed medical providers, fraudulent over-billing for medical services; the ordering of unnecessary lab tests or dental care; and a variety of other medically related fraudulent activity.
Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE)
Investigates the illegal manufacture, distribution, sales, diversion, possession, and use of controlled substances. BNE agents also monitor doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other medical practitioners and providers for illicit use of legally manufactured controlled substances.
Often the best, often the most trusted, often the first called, and often the last line of defense, DOJ special agents are at the center of California's law enforcement apparatus. Local, federal, and other state law-enforcement agencies have come to rely on DOJ special agents for their leadership in fighting crime.