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For the Law Enforcement Agency featured in Red Dead Redemption 2, see Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

The Bureau of Investigation (abbreviated as BOI) is a federal agency featured in Red Dead Redemption, wherein it serves as the overall main antagonistic faction. It also makes a cameo appearance in Red Dead Redemption 2.



The agency was founded when the United States federal government had grown tired of not having an official fully staffed federal agency with its 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 only makes a small appearance in the game. During the end 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 that have yet 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 is based in 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.

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 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.

West Elizabeth

John Marston returns to Blackwater following Bill's death. After a heated argument between Ross and Marston, John and the pair of agents 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. Dutch's hideout of Cochinay is eventually scouted by John. The Bureau finally launches a full scale assault on Cochinay with the assistance of the United States Army. Much to Ross' disappointment, Dutch commits suicide instead of dying by John Marston's hand. 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 is cut short when the Bureau, United States Army and even some U.S. Marshals launch a joint assault on Beecher's Hope. Having been betrayed by the Bureau despite fulfilling his end of the bargain, John ensures that his family escape the ranch safely, only to then sacrifice himself to be gunned down by a firing squad of attackers, including Ross himself. At the cost of his life, John has allowed his family the chance to have a normal life without the fear of being hunted down by the agency any further.


Edgar Ross receives full credit, publicity, and commendations for the deaths of Bill Williamson, Javier Escuella, Dutch van der Linde and John Marston. In 1913, Ross retires with his wife, Emily, living in a cabin on Lake Don Julio. The following year, Nate Johns' reputation becomes ruined by various scandals and numerous allegations of corruption. Shortly after his mother's death in 1914, Jack Marston tracks Ross down and kills him for what the Bureau did to his family three years prior.

Mission appearances

Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption 2


  • 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 became critical 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.
  • Oddly the journal entry for the mission Remember My Family refers to the Bureau of Investigation as the FBI.
  • Various NPCs, 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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