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TOP STORY: ICE/HSI special agents honored at 58th Annual Attorney General's Awards Ceremony

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents (SA) from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received high-ranking awards at the Department of Justice's (DOJ) 58th Annual Attorney General's Awards Ceremony held on Oct. 27, 2010 at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The Attorney General's Awards honor DOJ employees and others, who, in the pursuit of excellence, assist DOJ in meeting its law enforcement mission.

ICE Senior National Security Counselor Jay I. Bratt

Bratt was one of 17 individuals awarded the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service for his significant contribution to the review of Guantanamo detainees conducted last year by the Guantanamo Review Task Force. Bratt was part of the leadership responsible for directing, guiding and supporting the review effort to ensure that the task force collected and analyzed all relevant information and provided informed and reasoned recommendations to senior officials.

HSI SA Jason Cassidy, SA Travis McFarren and SA Robert Marten

These SAs received DOJ's highest award -- the Attorney General's Exceptional Service Award -- for their excellent work in furthering the interests of U.S. national security. Cassidy and McFarren of the Denver Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and Marten of the New York JTTF were part of an interagency team of agents, analysts and officers who successfully disrupted an Al Qaeda cell. These operatives had been trained and deployed to the U.S. to conduct a devastating mass casualty attack in New York City. According to DOJ, the investigation, dubbed Operation High Rise, targeted the most serious terrorist threat to our nation since Sept. 11, 2001. The task force members disrupted a major plot already in motion, and the work of this team is credited with saving American lives.

HSI SA Greg Swearngin

Swearngin from the HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Office was part of a team that received DOJ's second highest ranking award -- the Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award -- for his exceptional work in Operation Latina Libre and U.S. v Mendez. During a drug case SA Swearngin was investigating, he received information regarding underage girls working at Latino brothels in Memphis, Tenn. Following this lead, Swearngin, two DOJ attorneys and an FBI agent conducted a lengthy and complex investigation into a human trafficking ring that lured young Mexican girls to the United States with the promise of opportunity only to brutally force them into prostitution. A model of interagency cooperation, this team disrupted the human trafficking ring and prevented it from abusing other young girls.

HSI SA Theodore Schmitz

Schmitz of the HSI Washington, D.C. Special Agent in Charge Office was part of a team that received the Attorney General's Award for Fraud Prevention for investigating BAE Systems, one of the world's largest defense contractors. The complex, multi-year investigation unveiled massive corruption at the company. In a sophisticated transnational scheme, BAE Systems paid millions of dollars to influence sales of fighter jets and other defense articles. The company also conspired to defraud the United States, made false statements about its foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance program and violated the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The investigation and prosecution led to an unprecedented plea agreement in which BAE Systems paid a $400 million criminal fine and entered into ongoing compliance agreements. According to DOJ, the groundbreaking resolution will revolutionize the defense industry.

HSI SA Dean Lang and SA Eric Caron

SAs Lang and Caron of the HSI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Office in Ft. Lauderdale received the Attorney General's Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of United States National Security. SA Lang and Caron were part of a team that was honored for their efforts in the multi-agency operation, Operation Render Safe. Operation Render Safe resulted in the arrest, indictment and conviction of more than 35 individuals and entities involved in the procurement and movement of sensitive military and dual-use goods to Iran. The team successfully dismantled a network of Iranian procurement agents directly responsible for trading components used to make improvised explosive devices for use against coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The team was also responsible for stopping pipelines that provide military goods from the U.S. to Iran. The efforts of Lang and Caron were instrumental to the overall team's success to improve our national security and serve as a model for related investigations' prosecutorial strategies.