The Statesboro Police Department received national recognition last week with the 2010 Project Safe Neighborhoods Achievement Award for Outstanding Gun Crime Investigation, said Gary G. Grindler, the U.S.’s acting deputy attorney general.
The Department of Justice award was presented in recognition of Statesboro’s 2009 “Operation Statesboro Blues” sting that removed almost 100 firearms, as well as a sizable quantity of illegal drugs, from the city streets.
“Operation Statesboro Blues was the largest, most complex, most diverse, and the most successful undercover operation in the history of the Statesboro Police Department,” said Wendell Turner, Statesboro public safety director. “I am extremely proud of each and every participating agency – local, state and federal.”
The “Operation Statesboro Blues” involved many local law enforcement agencies, including Georgia Southern University Police, Georgia State Patrol, Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
However, Statesboro Police headlined the effort.
“I am most proud of our own officers who worked very hard, long, and dangerous hours to make this operation such a huge and nationally recognized success,” Turner said. “Captain Scott Brunson, Det. Sgt. Rob Bryan, Det. Sgt. James Winskey, and Cpl. Nathan Bolton are exceptional investigators and dedicated officers. Their performance and dedication to rid Statesboro of this type of criminal behavior is truly evident in this most successful endeavor.”
Statesboro Police representatives traveled to the PSN National Conference in New Orleans last week to accept the award.
Grindler said recipients were chosen from “a large pool of nominations submitted by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the nation. The Southern District of Georgia was the only District in the nation to receive multiple PSN Achievement Awards at the 2010 ceremony.”
Operation Statesboro Blues was initiated during the summer of 2008 by the Statesboro Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and culminated in the announcement of the arrests in April 2009.
“Undercover agents posed as members of the community who were interested in making illegal firearms and drug purchases from the criminal element. Creative, innovative techniques enhanced agents’ ability to gain criminals’ loyalty,” Grindler stated.
“Undercover agents purchased approximately 100 firearms and at least $300,000 worth of various drugs from over numerous individuals,” he said. “
Fifty-seven defendants all pleaded guilty to federal firearms trafficking, drug trafficking, Medicaid fraud, and other charges, receiving an average seven year prison sentence.”
Assistant United States Attorneys Cameron Ippolito and Frederick Kramer prosecuted the case.
Turner said the recognition was a compliment to the community.
“Congratulations on receiving the Project Safe Neighborhoods National Award for our agency and, most importantly, our community,” he said in a statement directed towards those involved.