2020 Law Enforcement Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice Awards


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Date: May 15, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

SAN DIEGO — The 2020 recipients of the third annual "Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice" awards honor 77 federal, state and local law enforcement officers for their work on cases in San Diego and Imperial counties.

Recipients were selected in a number of categories, including Lifetime Achievement, Exceptional Service, Cases of the Year, Investigations of the Year, Community Impact, and Collaboration. The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to U.S. Border Patrol Assistant Chief Chancy L. Arnold, the longest- serving Border Patrol agent in the United States.

The awards are presented to agents and officers who demonstrated creativity, initiative, and persistence to achieve justice in difficult cases, including major opioid and methamphetamine investigations, gun prosecutions, immigration fraud and even action on the high seas chasing drug traffickers.

Today also marks National Peace Officers Memorial Day, as well as the conclusion of National Police Week, which commemorate the courage and selflessness of law enforcement officers throughout our nation. Sadly, it is also a time to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty last year and whose names were engraved this year on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. It is particularly appropriate to honor our fallen heroes now, given the significant risks our brave first responders face during this pandemic. As of May 7, 2020, the Fraternal Order of Police reports that 92 law enforcement officers have died from the Coronavirus nationwide.

2020 Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice Awards

Award Title Awardee Agency Background Case Name/ Investigation
Lifetime Service Award Chancy L. Arnold U.S. Border Patrol Chancy has dedicated his entire career to public service, and he demonstrated a level of commitment and leadership that has made him a role model for many junior Border Patrol officers. Chancy, who has the distinction of being the longest serving Border Patrol agent in the United States, has increased the safety of our community and the security of our nation.  
Exceptional Service Award Bradlee Godshall Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Agent Godshall's leadership led to the successful investigations of 53 defendants for environmental crimes, including seven cases that went to trial.  
Exceptional Service Award Tom Eilers Imperial Valley LECC – HIDTA Director Eilers effectively coordinated numerous state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies in the fight against narcotics trafficking and deadly fentanyl in Imperial Valley.  
Exceptional Service Award Bryan Chehock Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chehock, a DEA attorney, crafted a successful argument that persuaded the court to allow DEA to get records of opioid prescriptions using administrative means rather than a search warrant. This information is essential in the fight against the opioid epidemic. United States v. California; et al.
Case of the Year Carlo Petersen Aron Marcellus Tyler Mower Paul Hernandez Alvaro Arauz Juan Bribiesca Ramon Villarreal Homeland Security Inv. (HSI) HSI



U.S. Border Patrol

U.S. Border Patrol

Thanks to this team's successful and effective collaboration, immigration fraud was prevented and an infant is in safer hands. U.S. v. Cesar Augusto Cordova- Montoya 19CR2358-LAB
Case of the Year Brian Loveland Patrick Powers FBI


U.S. Border Patrol

The agents' quick, disciplined action at a critical moment avoided bloodshed and saved both their own and the defendant's lives. This was followed by a thorough investigation, which delivered a just result and reflected law enforcement at its professional best. U.S. v Hector Rodriguez-Chavez
Case of the Year Michael Prince Brendan P. Biamon


Travis C. Olmsted Michael Boady

FBI FBI FBI FBI This team worked quickly to seek forfeiture orders that returned wrongfully wired funds to two universities and followed up to ensure that defendant was extradited to the United States. U.S. v. Amil Raage 18CR4858-GPC
Case of the Year David Senness U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs- OIG Agent Senness helped to protect contracts intended for veterans and created a model playbook for procurement fraud prosecutions. U.S. v. Andrew Otero; et al 17CR-0879-JAH 15CV-0441-JAH
Case of the Year Brandon L. Pullen Jeffrey Wight Adam W. Welzant Caroline E. Miller Jordan D. Groff Scott D. Rogers


K. Channing Meyer



U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

This team exemplified decisive action on the high seas and superb follow-up


investigation. Due to the overwhelming evidence developed by this team, the government obtained guilty verdicts that resulted in some of the most significant sentences ever imposed in a Title 46 drug prosecution.

U.S. v. Cortez- Quinonez



Case of the Year Jacob MacLeod San Diego Sheriff's Dept. Detective MacLeod's investigation led to a groundbreaking federal prosecution that secured justice for the devastated parents of an opioid overdose victim. U.S. v. Maxwell Gaffney



Investigation of the Year Jennifer Barnum Roger Quintana Janel Frith


Josh Watkins





The awardees' investigation resulted in the seizure of drugs, dozens of weapons and $2 million in bulk currency; the successful prosecution of more than a dozen U.S. defendants; and charges against significant targets in Guatemala and Mexico. US v Ipina, et al. 17cr0648
Investigation of the Year Jason Hurley Sandy Wasser Ernst Jacobsen Vivien Valderrama DEA DEA DEA


IRS Criminal Investigations

The joint efforts of these agents removed hundreds of pounds of deadly drugs from the streets and resulted in indictments of dangerous drug traffickers in the Ever Perez-Cruz drug trafficking organization.  
Investigation of the Year Christian Sanders Connell Ainslie Zachary Leasure HSI HSI DEA This team's investigation resulted in convictions of two high level traffickers and the seizure of 2800 kilograms of cocaine; 280 kilograms of methamphetamine; five firearms; and approximately $2 million in bulk currency. 18CR3737-WQH and 18CR3739- WQH
Investigation of the Year Jeffrey Horn John Philpott Israel Garcia


Cathleen Beausang



S.D. County DA's Office

Cal. Dept. of Insurance FBI

The awardees exposed systemic corruption in the California Worker's Compensation System. Ultimately, their hard work and tenacity led to the conviction of 18 individuals and 7 corporations and more than $2 million in fines.  
Investigation of the Year John Roberts FBI This award-winning investigation resulted in the convictions of four defendants who fraudulently obtained nearly $50 million from investors by pretending the money would be secured by high-end real estate.  
Community Impact Michael Wasser DEA Agent Wasser's investigations and his ongoing training of numerous agents, task force officers and AUSAs resulted in a significant 40 percent increase of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) prosecutions in FY 2019.  
Community Impact Arnesha Bahn ATF Since May 2019, Agent Bahn personally swore out 40 federal PSN complaints, leading to safer and more secure neighborhoods in the Southern District.  
Collaboration Rick Aguilar Lisa Amman Pat Shadoan Thomas Garrity Michael Wasser Sarah Duray James Peters Brian Hamilton Edward Byrne


Brandon Merrick Oscar Amando

San Diego Police Dept./DEA



Task Force

San Diego Police Department


San Diego Police. Dept.

Team 10 is a creative and effective collaboration that quickly takes deadly drugs off the streets, delivers justice, and never loses sight of the faces and stories of overdose victims.  

*Not all award recipients are listed