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Tag: high seas

The FBI’s Man on the Pirate Beat– Kevin Coughlin

By Joseph Goldstein
New York Times

In the F.B.I.’s expansive offices in Lower Manhattan, a black-and-white banner on Special Agent Kevin P. Coughlin’s desk stands out amid the rows of cubicles. It is a Jolly Roger, skull above crossed swords, the pirate’s calling card.

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Mr. Coughlin, 35, belongs to a squad whose caseload includes investigating crime on the high seas. Not too long ago that mostly meant crimes on cruise ships, like rape and jewelry theft. But as piracy proliferated off the coast of Somalia over the past four years, and as American ships came under attack, the nature of the squad’s inquiries changed.

In the past two years, as lead investigator in most of the F.B.I.’s piracy cases, Mr. Coughlin has interviewed a majority of the accused pirates charged in United States courts in modern times — 18 of 27 men, all from Somalia or Yemen. He has tried to determine how each ended up in a skiff far out to sea, and what their respective roles were during an attack.

“Like a lot of criminals, they try to minimize their involvement,” Mr. Coughlin said.

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