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U.S. Marshals Service

Fact Sheets  

General Information

The U.S. Marshals Service is the nation’s oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency. Federal Marshals have served the country since 1789, oftentimes in unseen but critical ways. To this day, the Marshals Service occupies a uniquely central position in the federal justice system. It is the enforcement arm of the federal courts, and as such, it is involved in virtually every federal law enforcement initiative.

Presidentially appointed, U.S. Marshals direct the activities of 94 districts — one for each federal judicial district. More than 3,340 Deputy U.S. Marshals and Criminal Investigators form the backbone of the agency. Among their many duties, they apprehend federal fugitives, protect the federal judiciary, operate the Witness Security Program, transport federal prisoners and seize property acquired by criminals through illegal activities.

The agency’s headquarters is just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Judicial Security

Protecting federal judicial officials — judges, attorneys and jurors — is a core mission for the U.S. Marshals. Deputy U.S. Marshals employ the latest security techniques and devices during highly sensitive trials throughout the nation.

Experienced, former law enforcement officers, having served in various capacities and specialties throughout their careers, comprise the agency’s Court Security Officer program. These contracted CSOs receive limited deputations as special Deputy U.S. Marshals and play a vital role in courthouse security. Using security-screening systems, CSOs detect and intercept weapons and other prohibited items individuals attempt to bring into federal courthouses. Senior Inspectors, Deputy U.S. Marshals and CSOs provide security at facilities that house court operations. The agency also oversees each aspect of courthouse construction projects, from design through completion, to ensure the safety of federal judges, court personnel and the public.

Fugitive Investigations

The U.S. Marshals Service is the federal government’s primary agency for conducting fugitive investigations. In FY 2009, the Marshals apprehended more than 36,400 federal fugitives, clearing approximately 39,400 felony warrants.

Working with law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels, Marshals-led task forces arrested an additional 90,800 state and local fugitives, clearing approximately 117,000 state and local felony warrants. The Marshals currently lead 75 district fugitive task forces and seven regional fugitive task forces dedicated to investigating violent crime, and locating and apprehending wanted criminals. The USMS has developed close working relationships with other law enforcement agencies on fugitive matters and provides assistance, expertise and training to agencies at the federal, state, local and international levels.

The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for the apprehension of both foreign and international fugitives, and it is the primary agency responsible for extraditions to and from the United States. In FY 2009, the Marshals coordinated 874 extraditions and deportations from 65 countries.

Special Missions, Programs

The Tactical Operations Division (TOD) serves as a point of contact between the Office of the Director, Districts, Headquarters Divisions and other Agencies to coordinate and implement operational matters when the USMS Director authorizes a special law enforcement assignment, a crisis arises, or there is a security mission.  TOD includes the agency’s Special Operations Group that is a specially trained, tactical unit comprised of Deputy U.S. Marshals who can respond immediately to incidents anywhere in the United States or its territories.  It is the TOD that carries out the Director’s law enforcement orders.  The TOD is comprised of the following program areas:  the Office of Crisis Services; the Office of Emergency Management; the Office of Resource Management; the Office of Security Programs; the Office of Strategic Technology; the Special Operations Group, and the Strategic National Stockpile Security Operations.

Witness Security Program

The U.S. Marshals Service ensures the safety of witnesses, who risk their lives testifying for the government in cases involving organized crime and other significant criminal activities. Since 1971, the Marshals have protected, relocated and given new identities to more than 8,200 witnesses and more than 9,800 of their family members.

The successful operation of the Witness Security Program has been recognized as providing a unique and valuable tool in the government’s battle against major criminal enterprises and international terrorism.

Witness Security Program personnel are the world’s leading authorities and foremost experts on witness security matters, providing guidance and training to numerous government officials throughout the world.

Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System

Managed by the U.S. Marshals, JPATS is one of the largest transporters of prisoners in the world, handling more than 1,400 requests every day to move prisoners between judicial districts, correctional institutions and foreign countries. JPATS completes more than 350,000 prisoner and alien movements annually via coordinated air and ground systems.

Prisoner Operations

The U.S. Marshals Service currently houses approximately 58,500 federal detainees each day. About 80 percent of the prisoners are housed in 1,800 state, local and private jails across the country. The remaining prisoners are housed in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities. In areas where detention space is scarce, Cooperative Agreement Program funds have been used in the past to improve local jail conditions and expand jail capacities in return for guaranteed space for federal prisoners.

Asset Forfeiture Program

The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for managing and disposing of seized and forfeited properties acquired by criminals through illegal activities. Under the auspices of the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture Program, the Marshals manage more than $2 billion worth of property, and promptly dispose of assets forfeited by all DOJ agencies. The program’s goal is to maximize the net return from forfeited property and reinvest the proceeds for law enforcement purposes.

Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Marshals Service Pub. No. 21-A
revised Dec. 30, 2009 is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice