At what point can I reasonably conclude the records don't exist or the agency lied?
In June of 2014 the FBI said in a press release that it had arrested three pimps in Anchorage within a week.
I waited until March to request the case names (if federal) or case numbers (if state) of charges resulting from those arrests. In January, the FBI responded that providing me with that information would interfere with active investigations. I have since verified through other records requests that no related charges were filed against anyone at the state or federal level during that week or the following week.
I have learned that the FBI participated in other actions during that week, and I wonder if they might be counting those actions as an “arrest” hashmark, even though no arrest was made.
I recently made another request for “any shred of evidence” that the three arrests took place.
At what point would it be reasonable and responsible to conclude that the arrests did not take place?
The charges could be sealed. You could try requesting memoranda/emails regarding the press release.
That’s a great idea!
I’d never heard of charges being sealed before, I’ll look into it. Thanks.
If you’re talking about this release: https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/168-juveniles-recovered-in-nationwide-operation-targeting-commercial-child-sex-trafficking you may need to look elsewhere for records. “The FBI thanks its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners representing 392 separate agencies for their ongoing enforcement efforts and participation in Operation Cross Country VIII.” The arrests might not have been made by the FBI.
Right, they definitely wouldn’t have been. I’ve already established through other records requests that no related charges were filed as a result of APD or AST arrests in Anchorage that week. I have found that the FBI did team up with AST on one investigation and did surveillance with APD that week - but in both cases arrests weren’t made until months later.
So either: - It was a catch and release deal where they did arrest 3 people and didn’t charge them. - The charges are sealed and no one I know knows about any of them, which seems unlikely. - They’re counting things like doing surveillance as an arrest.
It’s possible they were arrested and released without charge, yes. For your second point, I disagree. If a case is sealed, records regarding that case are almost universally exempt from disclosure. For your third point, I don’t think so, although you could craft a request to see if their definition does include surveillance.
Another great idea. Thanks.