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U.S. Marshals Service


The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) is the nation’s oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency. Federal Marshals have served the country since 1789, often times in unseen but critical ways. To this day, the Marshals occupy a uniquely central position in the federal justice system. The USMS 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 3,843 Deputy Marshals and Criminal Investigators form the backbone of the agency. Among their many duties, they apprehend more than half of all federal fugitives, protect the federal judiciary, operate the Witness Security Program, transport federal prisoners, conduct body searches, enforce court orders and Attorney General orders involving civil disturbances and acts of terrorism, execute civil and criminal processes, and seize property acquired by criminals through illegal activities.

Judicial Security


Protecting federal judicial officials — judges, attorneys and jurors is a core mission for the U.S. Marshals. Deputy 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 (CSO) program. These contracted CSOs receive limited deputations as special Deputy Marshals and play a vital role in courthouse security. Using security-screening systems, CSOs detect and intercept weapons and other prohibited items that individuals attempt to bring into federal courthouses. Senior Inspectors, Deputy 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.    

DUSM providing security
Fact Sheet: Judicial Security

Transporting Prisoners/JPATS

In 1995, the U.S. Marshals and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement merged air fleets to create the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System — JPATS. The merger created an efficient and effective system for transporting prisoners and criminal aliens.

Managed by the U.S. Marshals, JPATS is one of the largest transporters of prisoners in the world, handling more than 1,070 requests every day to move prisoners between judicial districts, correctional institutions and foreign countries. JPATS completes more than 275,400 prisoner and alien movements annually via coordinated air and ground systems.   

Transporting a prisoner
Fact Sheet: Prisoner Transport

Fugitive Operations

The U.S. Marshals is the federal government’s primary agency for conducting fugitive investigations. The Marshals apprehend more federal fugitives than all other law enforcement agencies combined. In fiscal year 2014, the U.S. Marshals arrested more than 33,700 federal fugitive felons, clearing 36,800 federal felony warrants – more than all other law enforcement agencies combined.

Working with authorities at the federal, state, and local levels, U.S. Marshals-led fugitive task forces arrested more than 71,000 state and local fugitives, clearing 89,131 state and local felony warrants. The Marshals currently leads 60 district fugitive task forces and 7 regional fugitive task forces dedicated to 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 on the federal, state, local and international levels.

DUSM making an arrest


The USMS is the premier agency to apprehend foreign fugitives believed to be in the United States, and it is the agency responsible for locating and extraditing American fugitives, who flee to foreign countries. In fiscal year 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service coordinated 883 extraditions/deportations.

In support of its international fugitive investigative mission, the USMS has established foreign field offices in Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The USMS also maintains successful law enforcement liaison programs along the borders of Mexico and Canada. Also, the USMS enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service and holds key positions at Interpol.    


Prisoner Operations

The Marshals Service houses over 55,000 detainees in federal, state, local and private jails throughout the nation. In order to house these pre-sentenced prisoners, the Marshals Service contracts with approximately 1,800 state and local governments to rent jail space. Seventy-five percent of the prisoners in Marshals Service custody are detained in state, local and private facilities; the remainder are housed in Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities. 

Escorting a prisoner

Tactical Operations

Each year the USMS carries out hundreds of special missions related to its broad law enforcement authority and judicial security responsibilities. It also responds to homeland security crises and national emergencies.

The USMS Special Operations Group is a specially trained, tactical unit comprised of Deputy Marshals, who can respond immediately to incidents anywhere in the United States or its territories.

Firearms training
Fact Sheet:
Tactical Operations

Asset Forfeiture

The USMS 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 currently manage nearly $2.2 billion worth of property, and promptly disposes of assets forfeited by all Department of Justice agencies. The Program’s goal is to maximize the net return from forfeited property and then reinvest the proceeds for law enforcement purposes.    

Seized Vehicle
Fact Sheet:
Asset Forfeiture

Witness Security

The U.S. Marshals 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 8,500 witnesses and more than 9,900 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.

protecting a witness
Fact Sheet:
Witness Security is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice