U.S. Attorney from Tampa Earns National Recognition
Also receiving awards from the Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. were members of her team.
WASHINGTON, DC – Maria Chapa Lopez, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, and staff members from her office were honored today (June 15) during the 34th Director’s Awards Ceremony in Washington D.C.
Chapa Lopez and Administrative Officer Jeff Hahn, Officer Manager/IT Specialist Joey Chigro, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilianys Rivera Miranda were among the 162 members of the Department of Justice recognized by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys Director James Crowell, IV. The Middle District of Florida was one of 35 districts represented at the ceremony which was held in the Great Hall at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.
In addressing the award recipients and guests, Rosenstein said, “Today’s honorees earned the esteem of their colleagues. But most importantly, they earned the gratitude of our fellow citizens — the people whose communities you made safer, whose lives you improved, and whose trust you rewarded. Today, we pause to honor and recognize a small portion of your work.”
Chapa Lopez received the award for Superior Performance By a Litigative Team for her work while detailed to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Chapa Lopez and her colleagues demonstrated extraordinary persistence and commitment to the rule of law while successfully investigating and prosecuting members of the Los Zetas cartel who brutally murdered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata and wounded ICE Special Agent Victor Avila in February 2011, during an attempted carjacking in Mexico.
Deploying immediately after the attack, the team relentlessly pursued every evidentiary lead and soon began filing charges against the perpetrators, officials said. Over the next six and a half years, seven defendants were extradited to the U.S., five of whom pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate. In July 2017, the final two defendants were convicted after trial. The convictions demonstrate that violent Mexican cartels cannot operate with impunity, that they will be punished for violating U.S. laws, and that Mexican and U.S. law enforcement can share evidence to bring to justice members of a dangerous transnational criminal organization.
“I am deeply humbled by this award,” Chapa Lopez said, “and honored to serve alongside such distinguished individuals in my office and throughout the department.”
Hahn, Chigro, and Miranda received the award for Superior Performance By an Administrative Team for their work in coordinating and implementing emergency response efforts to the District of Puerto Rico and the District of the Virgin Islands in an effort to ensure these districts were operational in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
They, along with employees from the District of Puerto Rico and the Southern District of Florida, reviewed and analyzed emergency relief policies to find the best ways to handle emergency relief efforts which could serve as best practices for other U.S. Attorneys’ offices facing similar emergencies. When living conditions in affected areas were dire, these employees took charge to ensure generators and other key items were shipped to critical locations. In a situation where many employees did not have power or water, those who were present in the aforementioned districts, the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, and other districts worked long hours and over the weekends to ensure employees were able to push forward and deal with the catastrophe before them and to eventually report to work. Officials said they went above and beyond the call of duty, inspiring others to do the same while making an extraordinary contribution in the midst of a very difficult crisis.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorneys Office.
U.S. Attorney’s Office | Award | Maria Chapa Lopez | Rod Rosenstein | Courts | Tampabay News
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