June 27, 2013
Contact: DEA Public Affairs
DEA Holds Its First Purple Heart Award Ceremony for Foreign Partners
JUNE 27 (WASHINGTON) - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) held its first Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU) Purple Heart Award ceremony at its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, Thursday, June 27.
L-R: Colombian National Police Antinarcotics Police Director Major General Luis Alberto Pérez Alvarán, Yeimi Constanza Martinez (widow of Sergio Castro), Sergio Nicolas Castro Martinez (son of Castro), and DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart
L-R: Colombian National Police Antinarcotics Police Director Major General Luis Alberto Pérez Alvarán, Diana Cristina Gallego Lopez (widow of Franklin Moreno), Maria Camila Gomez Gallego (step-daughter of Moreno), DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart
Administrator Michele Leonhart presented two awards posthumously to the widows of Colombian National Police Officers Sergio Antonio Castro and Franklin Moreno Lopez, who were killed in the line of duty July 12, 2012, during a drug investigation. Ceremony participants included Colombian National Police Antinarcotics Police Director Major General Luis Alberto Pérez Alvarán; Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield; and DEA Deputy Chief of Operations Jeffrey J. Fitzpatrick.
These two officers were long-time members of the Colombian SIU program and are both survived by a wife and two children. The ceremony also served as the official induction for Officers Castro and Lopez into the DEA SIU Wall of Honor, located at the DEA Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia, which is comprised of plaques that honor all SIU officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
In 1997, the U.S. Congress authorized and approved funding for the DEA to create, train, and support Special Investigative Unit (SIU) programs in countries critical to the counter narcotics objectives of the U.S. The DEA identifies foreign counterparts to work in sensitive bilateral investigations and the selected personnel receive specialized training from DEA’s International Training Section. More than 3,000 SIU personnel have been trained since the program’s inception.
The DEA SIU Purple Heart Award was created in 2012 as a way to recognize and honor the sacrifices of SIU members worldwide. To be eligible for consideration, the officer must be a current or former SIU member who was seriously injured or killed in action while assigned to an SIU. The SIU Wall of Honor was established in 2007 and memorializes 18 of DEA’s foreign law enforcement partners from six countries in addition to Intendentes Moreno-Lopez and Antonio-Castro.