TOPEKA—Two law enforcement officers who led major federal drug trafficking investigations are the winners of this year’s Guardian of Justice Awards, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.
Grissom presented the awards to FBI Special Agent Tim Swanson and Kansas City, Kansas Police Detective Pamela Bennett during a meeting Wednesday of the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police in Topeka.
Swanson led Operation Camera Shy, which targeted crack cocaine traffickers who took over a two-block area of Kansas City, Kansas. Bennett led an investigation of a heroin trafficking organization that operated in Johnson, Wyandotte, Leavenworth, and Franklin Counties.
“Outstanding work by both of these investigators led to successful prosecutions,” Grissom said. “Tim Swanson and Pamela Bennett are shining examples of how dedicated and resourceful law enforcement officers are helping keep Kansans safe.”
The Guardian of Justice Awards recognize the contribution of state and local law enforcement officers, as well as federal agents, who worked on significant cases and successful prosecutions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the past year.
Operation Camera Shy targeted a drug trafficking organization led by Antonio Quinn and his brothers, Steven Quinn and Marcus Quinn. They were among 17 defendants convicted. The investigation began after neighborhood residents complained about drug activity near Northwest Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas School officials and parents were so concerned that they arranged for children to be bused to and from school so they would not have to walk through the area where drug trafficking was concentrated.
The other investigation targeted a heroin trafficking organization led by defendant Verdale Handy. In that case, two heroin users died and five were seriously injured from overdoses. The majority of the Handy organization’s customers were teens to young adults who became addicted to oxycodone and then graduated to buying heroin. During the investigation, Handy shot another member of the conspiracy who he believed was cooperating with the government. Nine defendants, including Handy, were convicted.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zabel and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tris Hunt prosecuted Operation Camera Shy and nominated Swanson for the award. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri McCracken prosecuted the Handy case and nominated Bennett.