According to reports from Politico, people who intentionally spread the coronavirus could be charged as terrorists.
Two officials from the Justice Department confirmed this on Tuesday. People could be charged under federal terrorism laws.
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen sent a memo to top Justice Department officials, law enforcement agency Chiefs and U.S. Attorneys nationwide.
The memo noted the possibility of prosecutors and investigators finding cases of “purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19.”
“Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’… such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes,” Rosen wrote. “Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated.”
According to Politico, Rosen did not clarify if such threats or exposures have been reported.
A task force has been set up by The Justice Department in order to address hoarding and price gouging of necessary medical supplies to fight the virus.
During a White House briefing on Monday, Attorney General Bill Barr said that anyone hoarding pertinent medical supplies like masks would be prosecuted.
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However, memos issued by Barr and Rosen on Tuesday said the Department of Health and Human Services has yet to formally designate the health-related items the administration wants covered by the Defense Production Act.
The task force pursuing such issues will be headed by U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Craig Carpenito, and it will include someone from each U.S. Attorney’s Office and other Justice Department units, Barr said.