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Today, the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) United States Interdiction Coordinator (USIC) recognized exceptional performers from the interagency interdiction community. These annual awards recognize individuals and units which have demonstrated exceptional innovation, tactics, aggressiveness, and results in the effort to stem the flow of drugs into the United States.

“These award-winning interdiction teams are confronting the drug threats that challenge our nation on a daily basis and they are truly protecting us,” said ONDCP Deputy Director James Carroll. “The awards recognize their innovation in the field that is increasing our effectiveness in confronting the drug traffickers who are poisoning our hard-hit communities. As we work to address an ever-evolving 21st century drug threat, we need the creativity and dynamism that they have demonstrated.”

The 2017 USIC award winners represent a wide array of organizations from across Federal, state, local and tribal agencies. They are:

  • Operational Intelligence Branch, Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF-W) is recognized for their Interdiction Intelligence Support in shutting down ALPHA BAY MARKET, “…the largest darknet marketplace in history.”
  • US Coast Guard Cutter James (WMSL 754) is receiving the award in the Detection & Monitoring category for their unprecedented 11 days of tactical control while JIATF South was shutdown for Hurricane IRMA.
  • S. Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Aviation Detachment 17-22 is recognized for their Maritime Interdiction & Apprehension successes during a 79-day shipboard deployment.
  • Border Patrol Casa Grande Station Mountain Team and Homeland Security Investigations Native American Targeted Investigation of Violent Enterprises (NATIVE) Task Force are recognized for their Investigative & Prosecution efforts to arrest and indict nearly 3 dozen Sinaloa cartel members operating in the U.S.
  • International Operations Planning Team, Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S) is recognized for their Joint Operations and working with Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica to deprive maritime traffickers of the near land trafficking routes.
  • Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Investigation Phantom Pharm, Drug Enforcement Administration Special operations Division Operation Deadly Merchant, and Homeland Security Investigations Operation Denial is receiving their award in the Major Campaign/Strategic Planning category. Twenty-three participating agencies combined operations to dismantle domestic fentanyl distribution networks and destroy illegal pill-producing labs.
  • Guatemala Tactical Analysis Team Chief Jesus D. Romero is awarded the Special Recognition/Counternarcotics Force Enablers award for his extraordinary work in the Central America region.
  • Gulf Coast HIDTA and DHS Blue Lightning Operations Center are recognized for their Land Interdiction & Apprehension efforts which resulted in the significant disruption and decrease of drug traffickers’ ability to use established land routes near and along the Southwest Border of the United States.

Awardees were selected by a committee comprised of members of the interagency interdiction community who reviewed nominations submitted by the chain of commands of applicable agencies.

BACKGROUND: The ONDCP USIC Award Program was established in 2003 to recognize the superior performance of our front-line drug interdictors and those who support them.  This program has evolved to recognize individuals and units (teams) across the interagency community who have excelled in the United States government’s collective efforts to counter drug –related transnational organized crime. The award categories and selection criteria encompass the entire interdiction continuum.