The Bureau of Investigation, also known as the BOI, is a federal agency that features as a major antagonistic organization in Red Dead Redemption.


The agency was founded when the United States federal government had grown tired of not having an official fully staffed federal agency with it's own federal jurisdiction to gather intelligence on criminal organizations. Prior to the Bureau's founding, the federal government would contract agencies to conduct investigative measures on their behalf. The most notable of these agencies was the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

This changed in 1907 when the Bureau of Investigation (often abbreviated as BOI) was founded. Former Pinkerton agent Edgar Ross was also named director of the chapter that was specifically headquartered in West Elizabeth.

Events of Red Dead Redemption 2

Due to being founded shortly before the end of the story, the Bureau seldom appears in the game. However, during the in-game credits following the mission “American Venom”, agents Edgar Ross and Archer Fordham arrive atop Mount Hagen only to find the corpse of Micah Bell. This leads them on a progressive investigation for his killer which eventually brings them to Beecher's Hope, the home of John Marston and his family. Upon discovering Marston's whereabouts, Ross and Fordham take their leave, foreshadowing events to come.

Events of Red Dead Redemption

In 1911, politician and candidate for Governor of West Elizabeth Nate Johns promises to clean up the rampant crime in the region as part of his campaign for election. With the support of Nate Johns, the Bureau decides to hunt down the last known remnants of the infamous Van der Linde gang. To achieve this, Edgar Ross kidnaps Abigail and Jack Marston in order to force the cooperation of former Van der Linde gang member John Marston in hunting down his former gang. John Marston arrives in Blackwater via the Morningstar steamboat and is escorted to the train station by Ross and Fordham. His first task is to capture or kill Bill Williamson who has since formed his own gang and who's location is known to be Fort Mercer. The Bureau also sends a telegram to Armadillo Marshal Leigh Johnson requesting he aid Marston in his mission and arrange for a man named Jake to guide him to Fort Mercer.

However, following an encounter with Williamson at Fort Mercer, John is shot and nearly killed outside the fort, only to be saved by local rancher Bonnie MacFarlane. John's pursuit of Bill would force the latter to flee into Mexico, specifically Nuevo Paraíso. In Mexico John would then capture or kill (depending on player choice) Javier Escuella, another member of his old gang who is responsible for sheltering Bill Williamson in Mexico. Either way agents Ross and Fordham retrieve Javier from Marston and order him to deal with Williamson and then return to Blackwater,as they have reason to believe Dutch van der Linde himself has returned to the area. Shortly thereafter Bill Williamson himself would meet his end following a battle between the local rebellion and the Mexican Army within the town of Escalera, in which he is shot dead by either John Marston or rebel leader Abraham Reyes.

John Marston returns to Blackwater following Bill's death. After a heated argument between Ross and Marston. John and the pair of agents would take on Dutch's new gang at the Wreck of the Serendipity. However instead of finding Dutch they only find their informant, Nastas tortured and wounded after his role as a spy was discovered. John and the Bureau would later attempt to stop a bank robbery being carried out in Blackwater by Dutch's gang. Despite eliminating some of the members, the Bureau fail to stop Dutch, as he kills his hostage and escapes with the money in an automobile. After the fort of Cochinay was scouted by John, and a failed peace meeting between MacDougal, John, Nastas and Dutch's men, the Bureau finally launches a full scale assault on Dutch's hideout Cochinay, with the assistance of the United States Army. Much to Ross' disappointment, Dutch committed suicide instead of dying by John Marston's hand, although Ross shot Dutch's corpse to make it look as if John had shot him. Regardless, Edgar Ross promised that John Marston would not only be pardoned from his crimes but also be reunited with his family in exchange for his help.

John Marston's reunion with his family would be cut short when the Bureau, United States Army and even some U.S. Marshals launched a joint assault on Beecher's Hope. Having been betrayed by the Bureau despite fulfilling his end of the bargain, John ensured his family escaped the ranch safely only to then allow himself to be gunned down by a firing squad of attackers, which included Ross himself. At the cost of his life, John ensured his family could have a normal life without the fear of being hunted down by the agency any further.

Edgar Ross received full credit for the deaths of Bill Williamson, Javier Escuella, Dutch van der Linde and John Marston. And with that credit, publicity and a chest full of medals. By 1914, Nate Johns' reputation suffered considerably amidst scandal and corruption accusations. At the same time former BOI director Edgar Ross was retired with his wife Emily living in a cabin on Lake Don Julio. Shortly after his mother's death, Jack Marston would track Edgar Ross down and murder him for what the Bureau had done to his family three years prior.


  • Before 1908 the U.S. Department of Justice had no organized institution or group of investigators to gather intelligence. The Department of Justice hired Secret Service agents and private investigators, possibly from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. However, Congress began to complain of this approach of having a secret service department in every bureau. On July 26, 1908 Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte created the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1935.
  • In Red Dead Redemption 2 there are a few differences between the in-game Bureau of Investigation and the real life version. The first is that it was founded in 1907 when it was actually formed two years later in 1909, the second is that Edgar Ross was the first director when in actuality it was Stanley Finch (although there are many similarities between Finch and Ross).
  • Despite being the BOI at the time, examining the Journal entry will say it was the FBI.
  • NPC's, most notably Drew MacFarlane, can sometimes be heard grumbling about the growing encroachment of bodies such as the Bureau of Investigation, and its actions towards the populace.

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