About the Coast Guard Investigative Service

Authority of CGIS

The Coast Guard Investigative Service is a federal law enforcement agency whose law enforcement authority is derived from 14 U.S.C. ยง 95. This authority provides for Coast Guard special agents to conduct investigations of actual, alleged, or suspected criminal activity; carry firearms; execute and serve warrants, and make arrests for all crimes under the jurisdiction of the United States.

The criminal investigative function of the Coast Guard Investigative Service is similar to that of a major crimes unit at a large metropolitan police department, investigating crimes such as those “internal” to the Coast Guard, including fraud, larceny, homicide, and rape, as well as “external” investigations of maritime-related crimes ranging from migrant and drug smuggling, homicide, rape, false distress calls, and violations of the environmental laws.

The Coast Guard Investigative Service is a centralized directorship managed by a professional criminal investigator who reports directly to the Coast Guard’s Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard. It is located outside the Coast Guard’s operational chain of command.


Criminal investigations

  • Felony violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
  • United States Code violations related to or within the maritime jurisdiction of the U.S.
  • Counter-narcotics and alien-smuggling investigations
  • Fisheries Violations and Environmental Crimes
  • Counter-terrorism and force protection
  • Investigative assistance to federal, state, and local law enforcement
  • Protective service operations

Commandant/Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard

  • Assistance to U.S. Secret Service Presidential Detail
  • Other foreign and domestic dignitaries as requested

Intelligence operations

  • Human intelligence (HUMINT) collection operations
  • Image intelligence collection operations (IMINT)
  • Law enforcement information collection
  • Counterintelligence functions are investigated by the Coast Guard Counterintelligence Service as part of U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence.

Anti-fraud, waste, and abuse

  • Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General Hotline complaint investigations
  • TRICARE medical fraud investigations
  • Contract fraud investigations

Taskforce and liaison activities

  • FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF)
  • Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)
  • High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force
  • Border Enforcement Security Team (BEST)

International policing

  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
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