Why does the FBI have an international presence? To protect Americans.
As Director Mueller notes, "the globalization of crime—whether terrorism, international trafficking of drugs, contraband, and people, or cyber crime—absolutely requires us to integrate law enforcement efforts around the world. And that means having our agents working directly with their counterparts overseas on cases of mutual interest—not only to solve crimes that have been committed, but to prevent crimes and acts of terror by sharing information in real time."
international presence currently consists of our Legal
Attaché offices, commonly known as Legats.
The Legats and smaller sub-offices are located in
more than 70 key cities worldwide, providing coverage
for more than 200 countries, territories, and islands.
Each office is established through mutual agreement
with the host country and is situated in the U.S.
embassy in that nation.
Their goals? Simple:
To stop foreign crime as far from American shores as possible;
To help solve international crimes that do occur as quickly as possible.
Their activities? Staffed with agents and a support staff, they:
Coordinate international investigations with their colleagues;
Cover international leads for domestic U.S. investigations;
Link U.S. and international resources in critical criminal and terrorist areas that better ensure the safety of the American public here and abroad. The rules for joint activities and information sharing are generally spelled out in formal agreements between the United States and the Legat's host country; and
Coordinate FBI training classes for police in their geographic areas—everything from counterterrorism and cybercrime matters to forensic techniques to human trafficking and human rights.
FBI's Legal Attaché program is overseen by
the Office of International Operations, headed by
an Assistant Director, at FBI Headquarters in Washington,
DC. This Office keeps in close contact with other
federal agencies, Interpol, foreign police and security
officers in Washington, and national and international
law enforcement associations.