IACP Chief David Cameron Leadership in Environmental Crimes Award
Recognizes excellence in environmental crimes enforcement and education by law enforcement officers and their agencies.
The IACP Chief David Cameron Leadership in Environmental Crimes Award recognizes excellence in environmental crimes enforcement and education by law enforcement officers and their agencies.
The award honors David Cameron, Chief of Police in Jackson, Wyoming, from 1992 until his untimely death in April 2001. Through his professionalism, dedication, and personality, Dave Cameron positively affected law enforcement worldwide while serving as chairman of the IACP Environmental Crimes Committee from 1992 to 2001 and member of the IACP Executive Committee from 1992 to 2001.
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Sarasota, Florida, Police Department
Every year in Sarasota, the city co-sponsors a powerboat regatta through the waters of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival takes place during the Independence Day holiday and Lido Key is the primary viewing area for this event, which is also the peak nesting weekend for the five species of marine turtles that nest on Florida beaches. All five species of marine turtles are threatened or endangered species, and the increased maritime and beach spectator traffic from the festival has been shown to significantly impact the turtles, leading to a complete abandonment of nesting activity during the festival period. Additionally, the Black Skimmer, a threatened bird, also nests on Lido Key during that time. Through partnerships with Mote Marine, Audubon of Florida, and Save Our Seabirds, the SPD launched a “Share the Beach” initiative to provide beach and maritime security and over-watch operations to ensure that festival activity was not interfering with the nesting activity on Lido Key. The collaboration has resulted in the complete restoration of full marine turtle nesting activity during the event and a Black Skimmer nesting colony that is one of the largest in the state of Florida.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Operation Broken Glass was a criminal investigation led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, which focused on the most prolific dealers and fishermen of American juvenile eels known as “elvers.” It was initiated in response to wide-scale poaching on the eastern seaboard and the subsequent unlawful elver export from the United States to East Asia. Sixteen state and federal partners worked together on the investigation. The undercover operations for this investigation are complete and it is currently in the prosecution phase. All of the defendants in the case were charged with violations of the Lacey Act and were responsible for over $7 million in illegal elver sales. To date, 22 defendants have plead guilty to Lacey Act violations resulting in total incarceration and probation of over 50 years and total restitution and fines of over $300,000.
Calaveras County, California, Sheriff’s Office
The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office, located in northern California, created a task force to investigate and prosecute environmental crimes committed by marijuana cultivators. The multi-agency task force initiated “Operation Terminus” to investigate violations related to the pollution of California’s watershed and river systems. The operation led to the identification of numerous violations and included the eradication of 28,650 marijuana plants, seizure of cash and firearms, and 35 arrests. The combination of traditional law enforcement, forestry, wildlife, and water quality disciplines working together to identify and locate major environmental crimes was unprecedented in central California. “Operation Terminus” demonstrates exemplary leadership in ensuring the protection of public health and the environment, providing a powerful message of deterrence.
Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
This issue of illegal logging and the related criminal activities are widespread and global in nature. Illegal logging is the world’s most lucrative environmental crime, according to the United Nations, inflicting at least $50 billion a year in economic damage.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Houston, Trade Environmental Group’s investigative efforts and work in combatting illegally harvested Peruvian timber have been significant for several reasons. They caused logging in parts of Peru to virtually cease for 15 months. They also exposed fraudulent claims for export subsidies in Peru and resulted in the Peruvian government preventing a payment of over $7 million to an affiliated company. The United States Trade Representative (USTR) used the enforcement action by HSI as the basis to request the first ever verification of a timber shipment under the U.S./Peru Free Trade Agreement. The verification by USTR resulted in the identification of an additional shipment of Peruvian timber that was imported into the U.S., where over 90% of it was verified as illegally harvested.
In addition to exposing illegal harvesting of timber, and associated crimes (such as corruption, intimidation, arson, document and financial fraud, and tax evasion), the work of HSI Houston in this case has highlighted issues regarding international trade and diplomatic relations. While HSI Houston is continuing to conduct its investigation, it must be noted that they could not do it alone. This has been a truly collaborative effort which highlights the value of using multiple agencies, each with unique authorities, to collective stop illegal behavior. Whether it is Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Principal Legal Advisor, Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resource Division, Customs and Border Protection’s Industrial Materials and Manufacturing Center of Excellence and Expertise, U.S. Embassy Lima’s Economic Section, Peruvian Customs, or Peruvian Forests and Wildlife Resources Control Agency, each has played a significant role in identifying programs and processes which could aid the timber industry and both governments in promoting lawful trade. Further, HSI has used the lessons they have learned to inform other countries on potential best practices to combat timber related environmental crimes.
HSI Houston’s enforcement actions and coordination with Peruvian authorities has also been the subject of several stories by the media – both domestic and international - that have further exposed the problems related to Peru’s timber industry, sending a message of deterrence to those who think about engaging in these environmental crimes.
HSI Houston’s investigative efforts are exemplary and offer a model for others to follow.