In today’s terror-threat atmosphere, federal crime-fighting is focusing less on staples like bank robbery, says Chris Swecker, the new head of the FBI’s criminal division. Agents looking for terror connections in everything from Albanian gangsters and Mexican immigrant-smuggling rings to credit card scams and thefts of baby formula, reports USA Today. The FBI’s criminal division is leaner, with 5,000 agents, down from 6,500 before 9/11. The FBI no longer sends agents to every bank robbery. Nor does it conduct “buy-bust” drug operations. Agents are dispatched only for armed bank robberies and not to “note jobs,” in which robbers demand money with a note.
The FBI focuses on such enterprises as Mexican immigrant-smugglers who could sneak terrorists into the U.S., and Balkan gangsters who are challenging the American Mafia for control of gambling, prostitution, and other rackets. Agents must pay attention to crimes that would have gotten little notice before 9/11. Frauds involving credit cards, loans and food stamps, as well as thefts of baby formula, could raise money for terrorists, Swecker said.