PHOENIX — The victim assistance specialist assigned to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Phoenix was honored Thursday by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona as part of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) National Crime Victims' Rights Week.
Marc Tetzlaff was one of 10 federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors presented with service awards during a ceremony at the U.S. Attorney's Office. As HSI's lead victim assistance specialist in Arizona, Marc was recognized for his work providing vital support and services to crime victims as well as his efforts to raise awareness on human trafficking.
"The work Marc does is essential to HSI's victim-centered approach to investigations," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. "HSI investigates a wide range of crimes involving victims, such as human trafficking, hostage-taking and identity theft. Marc has gone above and beyond the call of duty to build crucial working relationships with community-based and non-governmental organizations and our state and local law enforcement partners, so that the victims of these crimes receive the support and services they deserve."
Allen points to a hostage incident in Phoenix in December 2012 to illustrate the impact of Tetzlaff's work. HSI special agents responded to a house after receiving a report of a possible hostage situation involving smuggled aliens. At the house, agents discovered 14 smuggled aliens who were being held hostage by their smugglers, who beat and threatened them with weapons in an effort to extort additional smuggling fees from their families. The three smugglers were later convicted to between 10 and 12 years each in federal prison.
"Marc not only responded to the drop house scene and visited the hospital in an effort to ensure the victims received appropriate immediate emergency assistance, but he also worked closely with them over the course of the next year, helping them obtain necessary support services and immigration benefits so they could participate in the investigation and prosecution," said Allen.
"HSI recognizes that in order to successfully investigate and prosecute these crimes, victims must be stable and free from fear and intimidation. There is no greater advocate for these victims than Marc," Allen added.
Tetzlaff additionally conducted more than 15 training sessions in Arizona in 2013 on immigration options for victims of crime for 430 members of state and local government and has led dozens of presentations to nearly 900 people on human trafficking awareness.
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. Additional information about the program can be found at www.crimevictims.gov.