Bogotá, Colombia - During a graduation ceremony of 106 Colombian National Police (CNP) officers on Thursday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the Director General of the Colombian National Police, General Oscar Naranjo, honored U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton.
ICE Director Morton was honored during the graduation ceremony of 97th (CNP) Officer Academy, which occurred at the General Santander War College in Bogotá.
According to the Colombian government, Morton received the "Extraordinary Distinguished Service Medal," a distinction that underscores the bravery and successful results of officials involved in combating transnational crime, especially drug trafficking and money laundering.
During the ceremony, President Santos stated that due to the efforts led by Director Morton and the CNP, the most powerful and sophisticated drug trafficking and money laundering network in the world was dismantled. From 2003 to 2009, the "Pacific Rim" cartel was responsible for approximately half of drug trafficking activities between Colombia, the United States, Mexico, Morocco and the Netherlands. So far, Operation Pacific Rim has netted seizures of more than 3.8 tons of cocaine, $170 million in cash and $179 million in property.
"Mr. Morton was the one who coordinated with police from eight countries to deliver one of the most powerful blows in narcotics trafficking history," said President Santos. "Operation Pacific Rim delivered a huge blow to an organization that many referred to as the 'Board of Directors of Narcotics Trafficking,' a series of individuals who are safely in U.S. prisons which happened to also be the leaders of this individual know as 'Loco Barrera,' who has inflicted so much damage to Colombia and humanity. Mr. Morton, thank you very much because this type of operation has allowed the police to impact these criminals and this business that has done so much damage to our country, a country that has suffered the scourge of drug trafficking."
ICE's Office International Affairs (OIA) enhances national security by conducting and coordinating investigations involving transnational criminal organizations and serving as the agency's liaison to counterparts in local government and law enforcement.
ICE has 70 offices in 48 countries, including in Colombia. OIA operations are directed by ICE attachés, whose responsibilities include:
- Coordinating investigations with foreign law enforcement counterparts;
- Providing domestic and international ICE offices with investigative case support and information related to cross-border criminal activities involving people, goods and technology;
- Providing training and capacity building to foreign law enforcement counterparts;
- Referring requests from host country agencies to ICE domestic investigative offices.
To learn more about Operation Pacific Rim, click here.