FBI Special Agent Kevin P. Coughlin has a Jolly Roger on his desk, but he’s more than just a pirate fan.
Coughlin is part of a special team of FBI agents that investigates piracy on the high seas, the New York Times reported Monday. Piracy off the coast of Somalia has proliferated in recent years, with American ships being attacked. When that occurs, Coughlin’s team takes over takes over. If pirates attack an American ship or American sailors, the Justice Department investigates. During the past few years, federal officials in New York and Virginia have prosecuted pirates in four incidents off the coast of Somalia.
As the lead investigator in most of the piracy cases investigated by the FBI, Coughlin has interviewed 18 of 27 men arrested on piracy charges, the majority of alleged pirates charged in the U.S. in modern times, the Times reported. Coughlin joined the bureau in 2008, after working as a lawyer and five years of active duty in the Marine Corps, including two tours in Iraq.
Coughlin doesn’t capture ships, according to the Times. But if prisoners are taken aboard a Navy vessel, Couglin flies out to the ships with Miranda rights waiver forms translated into Somali and begins his investigation.
As with many investigations, Coughlin attempts to build rapport with the accused pirates to encourage them to cooperate, giving them updates on the results of British soccer games. “You give them ramen noodles and tell them how you lived off that stuff in college,” he told the newspaper. “You build rapport, not because you want to be buddies with these guys, but because that’s how you do these interviews.”