The Department of Justice held its 26th annual Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) Director’s Awards Ceremony today, during which 146 award recipients from more than 30 districts were recognized for their dedication to carrying out the Department of Justice’s mission.
Among the award recipients were Erik R. Barnett, Daniel J. Grooms, Lauren A. Wetzler, and Heather J. Lee from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia; Bryan D. Wilhite of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Steven L. Carroll, Daniel L. Horton, and Thomas L. Hulse from the Fairfax County Police Department.
Recipients at today’s ceremony included Assistant United States Attorneys, law enforcement agents, litigation teams and others who have made outstanding contributions in federal, state and local law enforcement.
“These award recipients have been honored for their service and commitment to our country, as well as to their local communities,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “Each of these dedicated servants has carried out the important mission of the Department of Justice. Their accomplishments have advanced the interests of justice on behalf of the American people.”
“Thanks to these individuals from our district, many lives of young people throughout the Centreville community were saved,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Many of those we arrested later told us their arrests prevented them from fatally overdosing on heroin. We hope this case brings attention to the dangers involved with heroin use so that others in the community – health officials, schools, churches, and other organizations – will marshal their resources to provide help to those struggling with heroin abuse.”
The prosecution team and investigators were awarded for their work in convicting 16 defendants in “Operation Smackdown”, the targeting of a heroin ring in Centreville. This heroin ring was responsible for four heroin overdose deaths and at least a dozen non-fatal overdoses, all within the Centreville community and involving young people between 16 and 22 years of age. At the ceremony, Justice Department officials praised the team for performing an exceptional job identifying the sources of heroin within this community and dismantling the network of dealers through prosecution, all within an extremely short period of time, to prevent further overdoses and deaths. The prosecution received significant public attention as 15 defendants pleaded guilty and the one remaining defendant was convicted at trial, resulting in four defendants receiving mandatory 20-year sentences for distribution resulting in death.
The Operation Smackdown team was praised today by Justice Department officials, who noted that their work has helped the Department to continue its mission to enforce all of our nation’s laws, including prosecuting civil rights violations, gang violence and drug crimes, as well as representing our client agencies, conducting civil enforcement, and assisting victims of crime.