The work of the men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is never done with an objective of receiving an award for the success of their operations.
However, Wednesday, outstanding efforts were rewarded as HSI employees were among the 243 men and women honored for their exceptional work, dedication and distinguished achievements by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice at the 30th Director's Awards Ceremony of the Executive Office for the United States Attorneys (EOUSA).
The event was held in the Robert F. Kennedy Justice building in Washington, D.C.
"You represent the very best that this United States Department of Justice has to offer," said Holder. "Your work embodies our ongoing commitment not merely to win cases, but to do justice."
HSI Tucson Special Agents Christopher Frazier and Liza Lugo and HSI Honolulu Special Agent Carolyn Callahan were recognized for their work in Operation In Plain Sight ("IPS"), an investigation into the human smuggling activities of various licensed shuttle companies operating in Nogales and Tucson, Arizona.
With their operation resulting in the apprehension of more than 500 illegal aliens, the team was honored with the Superior Performance by a Litigative Team award.
"It's exceptionally rewarding," Frazier said. "It truly was a team effort. In so many ways, the stars aligned for us. We had tremendous agents and a tremendous group supervisor. I don't know if I'll ever have another opportunity to experience something like this."
Also receiving awards for HSI were Special Assistant United States Attorneys Beth N. Gibson and Andrew Choate, each of whom received the Superior Performance as a SAUSA award.
Gibson was recognized for her contributions to the District of Colorado, where she has managed the national Special Assistant United States Attorney program for ICE HSI participants.
Choate, from the District of Utah, has supervised the district's Immigration Crimes Unit, which prosecutes criminal alien cases where dangerous persons with criminal records are removed from Utah neighborhoods.
HSI employees have consistently been honored for their work for the past several years. However, support from the EOUSA is crucial. The prosecution of cases past, present and future is key to the success of ICE's efforts.
"It's important for all of ICE to have our employees recognized for the hard work they're doing in the field. And it shows our collaboration with the Justice Department," said HSI Executive Associate Director Peter Edge. "It's key to the success of our mission to have that collaboration. There are so many more great investigations that are ongoing right now that will result in people being honored at an event like this."