[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 42 (Tuesday, March 4, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 12060-12062]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-04621]


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DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

28 CFR Part 0

[AG Order No. 3421-2014]


Authorization To Seize Property Involved in Drug Offenses for 
Administrative Forfeiture (2012R-9P)

AGENCY: Department of Justice.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Justice is amending its regulations to 
extend the trial period during which the Director of the Bureau of 
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) may exercise, for an 
additional one-year

[[Page 12061]]

period following the effective date of this rule, the authority under 
the United States Code to seize and administratively forfeit property 
involved in controlled substance offenses. The Attorney General has 
determined that the trial period that ends on February 25, 2014, should 
be extended for another year to give ATF more time to refine its 
processes, fully hire and train all necessary staff, and further 
demonstrate the effectiveness of the delegation in the investigation of 
violent crimes involving firearms.

DATES: Effective Date: This rule is effective March 4, 2014.
    Applicability Date: This delegation became operative on February 
25, 2014, the date that it was issued by the Attorney General.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Denise Brown, Enforcement Programs and 
Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. 
Department of Justice, 99 New York Avenue NE., Washington, DC 20226, 
telephone: (202) 648-7070.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    After ATF became part of the Department of Justice in January 2003, 
pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-296), the 
Attorney General delegated to ATF the authority to investigate, seize, 
and forfeit property involved in a violation or attempted violation 
within its investigative jurisdiction. See 28 CFR 0.130(b)(1). ATF 
investigations focusing on violent crime frequently involve complex 
criminal organizations with multiple criminal enterprises and uncover 
drug-related offenses in addition to offenses within ATF's primary 
jurisdiction, such as violations of the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. 
Chapter 44, or the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act, 18 U.S.C. 
Chapter 114. In such investigations, ATF historically did not have 
authority under 21 U.S.C. Chapter 13 to seize for administrative 
forfeiture property involved in controlled substance offenses. Instead, 
ATF generally referred such property to the Drug Enforcement 
Administration (DEA), which is primarily responsible for investigating 
violations of drug laws contained in title 21 of the United States 
Code. DEA would then initiate, process, and conclude all necessary 
forfeiture actions for the controlled-substance-related property.
    The Department of Justice believes that forfeiting the assets of 
criminals is an essential tool in combating criminal activity and 
provides law enforcement with the capacity to dismantle criminal 
organizations that would otherwise continue to function after 
conviction and incarceration of individual participants. The Department 
further believes that administrative forfeiture permits the expedient 
and effective use of this crucial law enforcement tool.
    An uncontested administrative forfeiture can be perfected in 60-90 
days for minimal cost, including the statutorily required advertisement 
and notice by registered mail. Conversely, the costs associated with 
judicial forfeiture can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars and 
the judicial process generally can take anywhere from 6 months to 
years. In the meantime, the government incurs additional costs if the 
property requires storage or maintenance until a final order of 
forfeiture can be obtained.
    One of the primary missions of the ATF is to combat firearm-related 
violent crime. The nexus between drug trafficking and firearm violence 
is well established. On review of the current role and mission of ATF 
within the Department of Justice, the Attorney General decided to 
authorize a temporary delegation of title 21 seizure and forfeiture 
authority to determine whether such authority can enhance the 
effectiveness of ATF in the investigation of violent crimes involving 
firearms. On August 21, 2012, the Attorney General signed a final rule 
delegating seizure and forfeiture authority under 21 U.S.C. 881 to the 
ATF for a trial period of one year, effective February 25, 2013. 77 FR 
51698 (Aug. 27, 2012). This final rule amended the regulations in 28 
CFR part 0 to authorize the Director of ATF to exercise, for a period 
of one year from the effective date of the final rule, the authority to 
seize, forfeit, and remit or mitigate the forfeiture of property in 
accordance with 21 U.S.C. 881. See 28 CFR 0.130(b)(2). After 
considering the effectiveness of this delegation over the course of the 
one-year period, the Attorney General decided to extend the trial 
period for an additional year. This extension will give ATF more time 
to refine its processes, fully hire and train all necessary staff, and 
further demonstrate the effectiveness of the delegation in the 
investigation of violent crimes involving firearms.
    Since receiving the authority to seize, forfeit, and remit or 
mitigate the forfeiture of property in accordance with 21 U.S.C. 881, 
ATF seized both narcotics-related assets and firearms or explosives in 
approximately 70 percent of cases in which property was seized. The 
authority gives ATF the ability to process narcotics-related property 
seized in criminal investigations in which firearms and explosives also 
are seized. The delegation of authority has afforded cost savings to 
the United States government by streamlining the forfeiture process to 
prevent unnecessary burden on the judicial system and the public and by 
permitting the government to process forfeitures within a single 
agency.
    From February 25, 2013, to December 25, 2013, ATF seized a total of 
339 assets pursuant to the delegation of authority to seize, forfeit, 
and remit or mitigate the forfeiture of property in accordance with 21 
U.S.C. 881. The total value of those assets amounted to $5,376,387.70.

Final Rule

    This rule amends the regulations in 28 CFR part 0 to allow the 
Director of ATF to continue to exercise, for a period of one year from 
the effective date of this final rule, the authority to seize, forfeit, 
and remit or mitigate the forfeiture of property in accordance with 21 
U.S.C. 881.
    Forfeiting the assets of criminals is an essential tool in 
combating criminal activity and provides law enforcement with the 
capacity to dismantle criminal organizations that otherwise would 
otherwise continue to function after conviction and incarceration of 
individual participants. The Attorney General has decided to extend for 
a one-year period, beginning February 25, 2014, and ending on February 
25, 2015, the delegation of administrative seizure and forfeiture 
authority to give ATF more time to refine its processes, fully hire and 
train all necessary staff, and further demonstrate its effectiveness in 
the investigation of violent crimes involving firearms. ATF may 
continue to exercise this delegated authority for all property in its 
possession on or before the end of the extension period, even if this 
delegation is not otherwise extended.

How This Document Complies With the Federal Administrative Requirements 
for Rulemaking

Administrative Procedure Act (APA)

    Notice and comment rulemaking is not required for this final rule. 
Under the APA, ``rules of agency organization, procedure or practice,'' 
5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A), that do not ``affect[] individual rights and 
obligations,'' Morton v. Ruiz, 415 U.S. 199, 232 (1974), are exempt 
from the general notice and comment requirements of section 553 of 
title 5 of the United States Code. See JEM Broad. Co. v. FCC, 22 F.3d 
320, 326 (D.C. Cir. 1994) (section 553(b)(A) applies to ``agency 
actions that do not themselves alter the rights or

[[Page 12062]]

interests of parties, although [they] may alter the manner in which the 
parties present themselves or their viewpoints to the agency'') 
(quoting Batterton v. Marshall, 648 F.2d 694, 707 (D.C. Cir. 1980) 
(internal quotation marks omitted)). The revisions to the regulations 
in 28 CFR Part 0 are purely a matter of agency organization, procedure, 
and practice that will not affect individual rights and obligations. 
This rule does not expand the government's ability as a matter of law 
to effectuate forfeitures; it simply authorizes the Director of ATF to 
effectuate such forfeitures. Internal delegations of authority such as 
in this final rule are ``rules of agency organization, procedure, or 
practice'' under the APA. In addition, this rule is exempt from the 
usual requirements of prior notice and comment and a 30-day delay in 
effective date because, as an internal delegation of authority, it 
relates to a matter of agency management or personnel. See 5 U.S.D. 
553(a)(2).

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Attorney General, in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act, 5 U.S.C. 605(b), has reviewed this rule and, by approving it, 
certifies that it will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities because it pertains to personnel 
and administrative matters affecting the Department. Further, a 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required for this final rule 
because the Department was not required to publish a general notice of 
proposed rulemaking for this matter.

Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563

    This rule has been drafted and reviewed in accordance with 
Executive Order 12866, ``Regulatory Planning and Review,'' section 
1(b), Principles of Regulation, and with Executive Order 13563, 
``Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.'' This rule is limited to 
agency organization, management, or personnel matters as described by 
Executive Order 12866, section 3(d)(3) and, therefore, is not a 
``regulation'' or ``rule'' as defined by that Executive Order.

Executive Order 12988

    This regulation meets the applicable standards set forth in 
sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, ``Civil Justice 
Reform.''

Executive Order 13132

    This rule will not have substantial direct effects on the States, 
on the relationship between the national government and the States, or 
on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various 
levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 
13132, ``Federalism,'' the Department has determined that this rule 
does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a federalism summary impact statement.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This rule will not result in the expenditure by State, local, and 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 
million or more in any one year, and it will not significantly or 
uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions are necessary 
under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 
U.S.C. 1501 et seq.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 251 of the 
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), 5 
U.S.C. 804. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the 
economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices; 
or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, 
productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States-based 
enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic and 
export markets.

Congressional Review Act

    This action pertains to agency management, personnel, and 
organization and does not substantially affect the rights or 
obligations of non-agency parties. Accordingly, it is not a rule for 
purposes of the reporting requirement of 5 U.S.C. 801.

List of Subjects in 28 CFR Part 0

    Authority delegations (Government agencies), Government employees, 
Organization and functions (Government agencies), Privacy, Reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements, Whistleblowing.

Authority and Issuance

    Accordingly, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Attorney 
General, including 5 U.S.C. 301 and 28 U.S.C. 509, 510, and for the 
reasons set forth in the preamble, part 0 of title 28 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

PART 0--ORGANIZATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

0
1. The authority citation for 28 CFR Part 0 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 301; 28 U.S.C. 509, 510, 515-519.

0
2. Section 0.130 is amended by revising the second sentence in 
paragraph (b)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  0.130  General functions.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * * This authority is effective during the 24-month period 
beginning on February 25, 2013, and ending on February 25, 2015, except 
that it may continue to be exercised after February 25, 2015, with 
respect to any property in the Bureau's possession on or before that 
date.
* * * * *

    Dated: February 25, 2014.
Eric H. Holder, Jr.,
Attorney General.
[FR Doc. 2014-04621 Filed 3-3-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4410-19-P