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Harrison County Sheriff's Office receives ICE partnership award

GULFPORT, Miss. – The Harrison County Sheriff's Department was recognized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the Partnership for Public Safety Award for 2011.

Award recipients were selected by ICE Director John Morton to recognize an outstanding sheriff's office or officer who had gone above and beyond their normal duties to support and contribute to ICE's mission. The certificate and medallion from Director Morton are intended to express ICE's gratitude for the coordination and partnership between local and federal law enforcement in increasing public safety.

The long standing cooperative relationship between the Harrison County Sheriff's Office and ICE HSI has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in seizures from criminal proceeds, along with multiple seizures of narcotics leading to the disruption and dismantlement of significant drug trafficking organizations. Under Sheriff Melvin Brisolara, the department has provided dedicated manpower and assistance to the ICE HSI Gulf Coast Border Enforcement Security Task Force, most recently in the seizure last November of 4,497 pounds of marijuana from the sailboat, "Sarah Moira." The three individuals aboard the vessel were recently convicted of smuggling marijuana into the United States from Jamaica. This also led to the identification of an international drug trafficking organization operating in Jamaica and the United States since 2000.

"I am pleased to accept the ICE Partnership Award from the Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement," said Sheriff Brisolara. "This award symbolizes the Harrison County Sheriff's Office's dedication to the war on drugs and the responsibility we share with our Federal Law Enforcement partners to protect our nation's borders. I shall continue to commit the resources at my disposal to this end for the benefit of the citizens of Harrison County and beyond."

In 2010, the department initiated multiple drug interdiction referrals to ICE HSI involving the seizure of large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico and leading to several arrests and convictions. Recently, the HCSO referred the seizure of more than $140,000 in bulk cash destined for Mexico, which resulted in federal convictions for bulk cash smuggling. Sheriff Brisolara has demonstrated his commitment to protecting the citizens of Harrison County and to the larger responsibility of securing the homeland that falls on the shoulders of first responders.

"I am extremely pleased that Sheriff Brisolara and the Harrison County Sheriff's Office was selected to receive this prestigious award," said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of HSI in New Orleans. "Sheriff Brisolara and his team epitomize the concept of homeland security beginning with hometown security and I am genuinely grateful for their partnership. It's gratifying to see this level of national recognition for local cooperation and collaboration. I'm particularly proud of the relationship we have with the Harrison County Sheriff's Office." Parmer, based in New Orleans, oversees HSI field offices in five states, including Mississippi.