FBI office

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Jackson office at 30 King St. has been vacant since Jim Bonich’s retirement.

Jackson’s last remaining special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation retired six months ago, and the FBI isn’t replacing him, leaving its longtime downtown Jackson field office empty.

But the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is hoping to occupy the 1,550-square-foot office by placing two agents here.

The government, via the General Services Administration, leases the King Street office for $4,159.17 a month, according to the U.S. Government Lease for Real Property obtained by the News&Guide.

The 15-year lease agreement with Jourdan Family Limited Partnership LLC doesn’t expire until December 2026, according to the documents.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has been eyeing the former Jackson FBI office since James Bonich retired in August.

“Having a presence there will be helpful,” said David Tyree, resident agent in charge at the Wyoming Field Office in Cheyenne. “DEA is interested in expanding its presence in Wyoming and we have made a proposal to staff a two-person office in Teton County.

“We’re awaiting approval and looking forward to hopefully helping make it a better place.”

Tyree said that when he wrote the proposal he emphasized that the DEA has “very little to no representation” in this region.

Tyree expects no opposition to his pitch and said the organization will place agents here “immediately” after the final stamp of approval.

“It will be helpful in our overall mission to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations,” Tyree said. “We are working with law enforcement there already.”

The DEA also investigates the financial infrastructure of the drug trade, and Tyree believes placing agents in Teton County is a smart move for the federal agency.

Tyree said in addition to two full-time agents the DEA would look at deputizing local and state law enforcement to be able to collaborate on investigations.

“We have over 400 DEA task forces with full-time-equivalent law enforcement,” Tyree said. “It would provide local law enforcement with Title 21 authority so they would be a DEA agent. They would report to a DEA supervisor but work for their parent agency.”

That would allow local officers or deputies to cross state lines to continue an investigation.

It’s a practice they’ve implemented in Cheyenne, Tyree said, and it’s been successful.

“For us to be able to follow a car back to the source and quickly obtain a federal search warrant it has made a great impact on us here,” he said. “We aren’t relying on the good graces of another state agency to help us out.”

Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr said he’s open to the idea of his staff working alongside the DEA.

“If we are accomplishing a goal to make our community safer and our folks are learning valuable experience, that is something we would certainly consider,” Carr said. “We used to do something similar with DCI when they had an office here.”

After losing the local FBI and Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation offices, Carr said, the idea of working with the DEA is intriguing.

“My guess is they have established what they see as a need, and we will have to see where that goes,” he said. “I am very open to it if it’s going to benefit the community.”

Although the FBI no longer has a physical presence in Jackson it will still cover cases in Teton County, said Special Agent Amy Meyer of the Denver FBI public affairs office.

“We have special agents in Lander,” Meyer said.

Meyer said an internal study revealed the need to open a new resident agency in Rock Springs.

“The two special agents there will assist the Lander agency in investigating criminal activities in Teton County,” Meyer said.

Bonich worked for years as Jackson’s only special agent, investigating certain cases that rose to the federal level, like major white-collar crime, human trafficking, missing persons and significant violent crime.

Before Bonich there were four special agents who worked local cases since the mid-1990s.

Two U.S. marshals used to be based in Jackson, too, according to Teton County sheriff’s Deputy Chad Sachse, who has worked in local law enforcement since 1996.

“We still have these people in the state of Wyoming,” Sachse said. “They just aren’t in Jackson anymore.”

Because of high rents the Division of Criminal Investigation hasn’t had a physical full-time presence in Teton County in 10 years, Sachse said. Its closest offices are in Pinedale and Afton. Agents there still work some Teton County cases.

Teton County residents who need to get in touch with a regional FBI agent are now asked to call the Lander field office at 307-335-7559.

“The residents of Teton County shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to the FBI if they think they are a victim of a federal crime,” Meyer said. “There is still coverage.”

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Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or courts@jhnewsandguide.com.

(1) comment

Benny Wilson

6 months unoccupied? Waste of taxpayer money! Housing for the homeless !

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