The Justice Department gave federal law enforcement officers across the country the green light to use U.S. anti-terrorism laws to investigate and pro
The Justice Department gave federal law enforcement officers across the country the green light to use U.S. anti-terrorism laws to investigate and prosecute people who attempt or threaten to intentionally infect others with the coronavirus.
In a memo to the nation’s 93 U.S. attorneys and the heads of federal law enforcement agencies on Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen detailed the tools available to crack down on intentional spreading of the virus, as well as a slew of other crimes related to the pandemic.
“You may encounter criminal activity ranging from malicious hoaxes, to threats targeting specific individuals or the general public, to the purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19. Because coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’ under [federal law], such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes.”
Rosen said U.S. Attorney’s Offices have already received reports of individuals and businesses engaging in a wide range of fraudulent and criminal activities, including “threats to intentionally infect other people.
“Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated,” he wrote.
To date, no one has faced federal charges for threatening or attempting to infect others, but the Justice Department has taken action in other areas related to the outbreak. On Sunday, the department obtained a temporary restraining order to shut down a website selling what it claimed was a vaccine for the coronavirus. No such vaccine exists.