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04/27/2012

HSI special agents honored by DOJ for assisting Arizona crime victims

HSI Special Agent Evangelina Cardenas
HSI Special Agent John Koski
HSI Special Agent John Koski
PHOENIX — Two special agents assigned to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Arizona were honored Thursday by the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona as part of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

HSI Special Agents Evangelina Cardenas and John Koski were among six law enforcement officers and prosecutors honored during a ceremony at the U. S. Attorney's Office for their work providing vital support and services to crime victims.

"The United States Attorney's Office is deeply committed to seeking justice on behalf of crime victims and their families," said Ann Birmingham Scheel, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona. "Our prosecutors and advocates work diligently with our law enforcement partners to ensure that crime victims and their families obtain the services and assistance they need to help them get through difficult and challenging times in their lives."

Cardenas, a special agent assigned to HSI Tucson, was lauded for her work as an HSI victim assistance coordinator, a position she has held since December 2009. In the course of her work, Cardenas has responded numerous times to human smuggling drop houses, hospitals and other locations to work with victims of violent crimes such as assault, sexual assault and hostage taking. Cardenas was noted in particular for her work providing assistance to unaccompanied children found in drop houses or rescued from human smugglers who were holding them for ransom. In these cases, she worked closely with agencies such as Arizona Child Protective Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Mexican consulate to help reunite these children with their parents.

Koski, a special agent assigned to HSI Flagstaff, was honored for his investigative work on human trafficking cases, particularly a forced labor investigation. Koski's close coordination with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and his keen investigative work brought trafficking victims to safety and helped bring alleged traffickers to justice. Koski was heralded for his caring response to victims and his work to ensure trafficking victims received vital victim services, resource referrals and the support they needed through the justice process.

"I am extremely proud of the dedication and professionalism of Special Agents Evangelina Cardenas and John Koski," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. "Their tireless efforts have saved lives, served victims and helped bring the perpetrators of crime to justice. It's an honor to wear the same HSI badge as these fine law enforcement professionals."

The Crime Victims' Rights Act, enacted in 2004, grants victims in federal criminal proceedings certain enforceable rights, including the right to be reasonably heard at public court proceedings and to receive full and timely restitution as provided by law.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week, commemorated each April since 1981, is organized by the DOJ's Office for Victims of Crime. The event promotes victims' rights and honors crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. This year's theme, "Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim," calls on all of us to expand the vision that inspired the victims' movement and to celebrate the progress achieved thus far. Additional information about the program can be found at www.crimevictims.gov.