NRF Honors Law Enforcement, Loss Prevention Professionals During 2012 LP Conference and EXPO
New Orleans, June 21, 2012 – The National Retail Federation today, during its annual Loss Prevention Conference and EXPO in New Orleans, announced the recipients of its distinguished Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Award. These awards are given annually to deserving individuals who exhibit exemplary dedication and investigative skills in solving retail crimes. The 2012 award recipients are as follows:
Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Award:
• Kebharu Smith, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Department of Justice – Houston Office • Armando Astorga, Group Supervisor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – Homeland Security Investigations • Juan Pagan, Special Agent, ICE – Homeland Security Investigations • Terry Muise, Special Agent, ICE – Homeland Security Investigations • Matt Wood, Special Agent, ICE – Homeland Security Investigations • Georgina Cervantes, Intelligence Research Analyst, ICE – Homeland Security Investigations
Summary of case:
In July of 2009, both CVS/Caremark and Walgreen’s organized retail crime investigators noticed an uptick in criminal activity in several Houston stores. Working together, organized retail crime investigators were able to conduct a joint surveillance operation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The investigation uncovered a high level fence operation based in Houston, led by a person who aggressively recruited and paid illegal immigrants (mostly Central Americans) to travel to pharmacies throughout the continental U.S. and steal massive amounts of over-the-counter medications and health and beauty products. These booster crews (or direct thieves) were provided vehicles with GPS devices that were programmed with store addresses throughout the country from where they were to steal.
The Assistant U.S. Attorney and the Department of Justice in Houston worked alongside ICE-HSI and eventually were able to prosecute the criminals involved. Over the course of the investigation, federal agents and investigators found approximately $20 million dollars worth of stolen retail merchandise had been illicitly purchased and sold. Over 75 suspects were identified and linked to the operation, including 40 boosters, many of whom were deported by Custom officials.
As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s Retail Means Jobs campaign emphasizes the economic importance of retail and encourages policymakers to support a Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation. www.nrf.com.