View Full Version : Q: FBI vs. police in sting operation

06-01-2016, 10:25 AM
Scenario: FBI sting operation going on (organized crime/gang in CA city). An FBI informant who was member of the gang is found murdered. Local police called by neighbors, murder investigation begins. Having police dig into background of dead man can put sting operation in jeopardy.

can/would the FBI intervene in the murder investigation?
can the FBI take over the investigation from the local police, or could they cooperate w FBI in charge?
if a suspect is arrested for the murder, who would make the arrest?
if the suspect is a member of the gang under FBI investigation, can the FBI make a deal with him to get him to provide evidence against higher-ups? if yes, could terms of such a deal knock down the charge from murder to something less? (1st degree--> 2nd degree, or even manslaughter?)


06-01-2016, 10:32 PM
While almost anything is possible depending on the specific circumstances, I'll try to provide you with the most likely scenarios based upon the facts you've presented.

The FBI would not likely intervene, or take over, but would participate in a cooperative investigation since both agencies have a vested interest (concurrent jurisdictions) in successfully solving the incident case (murder) and getting a conviction in the subsequent prosecution.

For example: If the FBI's original case was RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) oriented, this case and any prior related cases may constitute predicate cases that support the RICO approach. The scale of a cooperative investigation may be of any size, from a pair of investigators from either agency teamed up as partners to a multi-investigator ad hoc task force; the potential scope of the investigation would be a consideration.

Since it is a case of concurrent jurisdiction, the prosecutors involved (US Attorney & state/county District Attorney) would coordinate prosecutorial efforts, and determine in which jurisdiction the perpetrator should be first charged/tried. That determines which agency makes the initial arrest. For example, if the defendant is to charged/tried by the state, he enters the state judicial system. The FBI, with approval of the US Attorney, can seek a warrant based upon sufficient probable cause (in the federal case) and subsequently have a detainer letter (notice of the outstanding federal warrant) filed (by the US Marshal) with whatever state detention facility in which the subject is housed. (Pre-trial release essentially becomes a moot issue; if he makes bond on the state murder charge--however unlikely--he goes into federal custody pursuant to the outstanding warrant.)

Both LE agencies would be interested in getting the subject to roll over against the higher-ups in the criminal organization. The crafting of any such deals (and relative terms) would be at the discretion of the involved prosecutors, not the involved LE agencies. They will assuredly be involved in that process, but most likely limited to making recommendations and/or offering opinions.


06-02-2016, 04:28 AM
Only in the movies or TV does the FBI "intervene" in anything. Local and Federal agencies work well together in real life, and nobody hides anything from the other. In many cases, locals are happy to have the Feds take over all duties, they're already stretched thin on money and people.


06-02-2016, 09:10 AM
Thanks for information--and lingo!
I'm still a little confused about timing: once the suspect is arrested, if the investigators don't know what kind of info they can extract from him and whom he can implicate in other crimes, can the crafting of the deal be part of the investigation/questioning, or do investigators simply dangle the possibility of a deal in exchange for information? Is the deal itself something that happens during prosecution or investigation phase?
As an aside, would the press be informed/aware of FBI involvement in investigation, and in any deal-for-info?

06-02-2016, 10:17 PM
Assuming the arrested person, having been suitably advised (Miranda rights) and subsequently waives those rights and elects to make a voluntary statement/answer questions/be interviewed regarding his involvement in the case, the involved investigators may suggest the possibility of a deal--however, they do not have authority to make/craft any such deal. That is solely at the discretion of the prosecutor.

Deals, as such, can be made at any time up to the moment the case goes to the jury (or the judge if there's no jury) for deliberation.

Federal agencies do not comment on ongoing investigations or court proceedings. There are exceptions; prosecutors, attorneys general, etc. Most state and local agencies follow suit. Deals struck in the course of the investigation/case would not be disclosed until so revealed to the court on the official (public) record. At the discretion of the court, that record (or part thereof) may subsequently be sealed.