FBI's New Division Chief to Target Terrorism, Gangs, Organized Crime

Amy Jo Lyons will draw on a wealth of experience as the new head of the FBI's Baltimore division.
Amy Jo Lyons will draw on a wealth of experience as the new head of the FBI's Baltimore division. (Courtesy Of The Fbi - Courtesy Of The FBI)
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By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Amy Jo Lyons joined the FBI, after four years as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, in the hopes that she would be able to investigate other types of crime.

Did she ever. Since joining the bureau in 1990, Lyons has investigated organized crime and Latino gangs. She has been a supervisor assigned to counterterrorism and she was one of the first female special agents to join an FBI SWAT team.

Lyons, 47, will draw on that experience as the new head of the FBI's Baltimore division, a post she assumed five weeks ago. In an interview, she said her priorities reflect those of the bureau: combating terrorism, rooting out public corruption and cracking down on street gangs.

"Certainly, terrorism is at the top of the list," Lyons said. "It is the top threat here in Baltimore."

She said the city is home to potential terrorist targets, including a major port, an international airport, a large train station and various rail lines.

Lyons said she recently met with state and local law enforcement officials in Maryland and Delaware, and with officials in the FBI's Washington field office.

"We have to work closely with our state and local partners," she said. "Criminals don't respect the state boundaries that we've established."

Lyons cited the gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, which is made up primarily of Central American immigrants. She said many members come to the Washington area directly from their home countries. Once here, she said, they move among Prince George's and Montgomery counties, the District and Northern Virginia.

An ongoing federal racketeering prosecution of MS-13 in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt has resulted in more than three dozen convictions. The investigation was primarily the work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Prince George's police, working with federal prosecutors.

Lyons said the FBI will pursue MS-13 more aggressively, even as it joins state and local law authorities in targeting other gangs, such as the Bloods and Crips, which she said are trying to claim territory in Baltimore.

Lyons said her experience investigating the Almighty Latin Kings Nation gang during her first FBI assignment, in the early 1990s in New Haven, Conn., helped her understand how gangs form, recruit, and protect their drug trade.

Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said he was impressed when he met Lyons two weeks ago. "She appreciated the importance of developing close working ties," he said.

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