News and Press Releases


Sept. 23, 2010


KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Two investigators who worked on a 17-month drug trafficking investigation code named Operation Load Runner have received Guardian of Justice Awards, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced today.

Receiving the awards are:
Justin Branner, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office
Doug Dorley, Drug Enforcement Administration

“Operation Load Runner was one of the most successful cases this office has prosecuted,” Grissom said. “As a result of these agents’ work, we seized 22 kilograms of cocaine, more than 5,900 pounds of marijuana and more than $1.3 million in cash and assets from the proceeds of drug trafficking.”

Thirty-one defendants have been convicted so far as a result of Operation Load Runner, which targeted a drug trafficking organization that distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and thousands of pounds of marijuana to Kansas City, Kan., Denver, Colo., Albuquerque, N.M., Richmond, Va., Minneapolis, Minn., and other cities over a period of several years. A money judgment of $13 million, representing the organization’s proceeds from drug trafficking, has been obtained against many of the defendants.
“Special Agent Dorley and Deputy Branner were tireless in their efforts to investigate these crimes,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zabel, who nominated them and prosecuted the case along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Tris Hunt. “In addition to their other work on the investigation, they assisted us with drafting search warrants and indictments and presenting the case to the grand jury. After the cases were indicted, they worked with us on detention hearings, suppression hearings, change of plea hearings and contested sentencing hearings.”

Branner also is being recognized for his work on Operation Press One, an investigation into a large drug trafficking organization that distributed methamphetamine produced in Mexico to buyers in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Twenty five defendants were successfully prosecuted. During the eleven-month investigation, Branner demonstrated the ability to manage surveillance assignments while producing clear and precise written work for submission to the courts.

Also receiving Guardian of Justice Awards Wednesday were five federal agents who investigated an $84 million tax fraud case against Topeka-based Renaissance, the Tax People. They are:
Chuck Puett, U.S. Postal Inspection Service
Henry Herron, Internal Revenue Service
Cindy Marshall, Internal Revenue Service
Sharon Vandenberg, Internal Revenue Service
Booker Leeks, Internal Revenue Service, retired

Guardian of Justice awards are given annually to federal and state or local law enforcement officers in recognition of outstanding service provided in the prosecution of significant cases by the United States Attorney’s office. The awards are the highest recognition given to a member of the law enforcement community by the United States Attorney’s office. Nominations for the awards come from prosecuting attorneys who worked with the nominees