U.S. Customs and Border Protection leaders, personnel and families from around the country gathered at headquarters Friday to recognize and honor the highest achievements, unwavering dedication and special acts of courage demonstrated by the workforce during the past year.
Department of Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary Russell Deyo joined Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske and Office of Human Resources Management Assistant Commissioner Linda Jacksta in hosting the CBP Annual Awards Ceremony.
Commissioner Kerlikowske expressed his pride in the award recipients and their accomplishments, as well as CBP's overall success this year.
Joined by U.S. Border Patrol, Air and Marine Operations, Office of Field Operations and other leaders, Commissioner Kerlikowske presented each recipient with a medal, while congratulating them for their dedication and thanking them for their commitment to CBP's mission.
Medal of Honor for Heroism Award
Personnel recognized at the ceremony included Patrol Agent in Charge Christopher Voss from El Paso, Texas, who was recognized with the Medal of Honor for Heroism Award. Then supervisory Agent Voss led the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) in the apprehension of two convicted murderers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, who escaped from the Clinton County Correctional Facility in New York.
“This is CBP’s highest award for valor,” said Commissioner Kerlikowske. “A great American poet, Carl Sandburg, once noted that “Valor is a gift. Those who have it never know for sure whether they have it until the test comes.” Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Christopher Voss has surely been tested – and he aced it. His extraordinary courage in the face of imminent danger is a credit to his BORTAC training, his team, and CBP.”
Commissioner Kerlikowske also recognized Agents Craig Colquitt, Chad Daley, Morgan Humphrey and William Stewart from Air and Marine Operations’ St. Thomas Unit with a Medal of Honor for Heroism. The agents from the United States Virgin Islands intercepted a narcotics smuggling vessel and arrested three subjects after a high-speed chase where the assailants were firing at the agents with an AK47 assault rifle, striking their Midnight Express interceptor boat several times.
“Their bravery in pursuing and ultimately capturing narcotics smugglers under heavy gunfire meets every definition of heroic,” said Commissioner Kerlikowske.
CBP honored two employees with the Integrity Award, which recognizes an employee who clearly demonstrated work habits and devotion to integrity that are above reproach and exemplified CBP’s core values and ethical standards while on duty.
“As every CBP employee knows, integrity is one of our core values,” said Kerlikowske. This year, we honor two employees for their integrity: CBP Officer Oscar F. Sanchez and Border Patrol Agent Brandon Law.”
In April 2015, CBP Officer Oscar Sanchez was offered a bribe to help smuggle aliens. Sanchez immediately reported the overture to his superiors and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility. He voluntarily agreed to meet with the individual to learn about the plans and capture evidence.
During the course of a year, Sanchez successfully helped secure evidence against two individuals, Miguel Emilio Rodriguez-Ramirez and Angel De Jesus Marrero, by wearing a recording device during two meetings. The smugglers were arraigned at the United States District Court in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Officer Sanchez’s quick reporting of the bribe demonstrated the integrity of CBP and displayed great personal courage by taking action that ended in the arrest of two individuals.
Border Patrol Agent Brandon Law applied his experience and skill in shutting down numerous drug trafficking organizations operating along the Mexico-California border and the Montana Interstate-15 corridor. His work resulted in shared intelligence, joint investigations and prosecutions.
Law was assigned as a full-time task force officer for the last three years, including two years working with the Drug Enforcement Administration. During that time, he built a network of professional relationships with officers and agents from state and local agencies in California, Utah, Idaho and Montana.
Agent Law was instrumental in forming the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force to pursue a case that became a DEA priority. He led the task force’s investigation of an individual transporting methamphetamine from California to Montana. The investigation led to a wiretap and ended in the indictment and arrest of 33 individuals and the seizure of approximately 24 pounds of methamphetamine.
Agent Law’s hard work and thorough investigation also led to the conviction and life sentence for Eduardo Ocegueda-Ruiz for methamphetamine and gun trafficking and immigration offenses.