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Press Release

Central Valley Antidrug Trafficking Program Recognizes District Prosecutor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar received the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area’s national Outstanding Prosecutor Award today for her leadership in the prosecution of rural trespass marijuana growers for their environmental crimes, exposing violators to criminal and civil penalties, and for bringing public attention to the environmental destruction caused by large-scale marijuana growers, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

The annual HIDTA Awards Banquet, which was held in the Wardman Park Marriott in Washington D.C., recognizes outstanding investigative achievements across the country. The Outstanding Prosecutor Award is presented to the prosecutor whose work is particularly notable in advancing the mission of the HIDTA program.

The HIDTA program, created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States. There are currently 28 HIDTA’s, which include approximately 17.2 percent of all counties in the United States and a little over 60 percent of the U.S. population. HIDTA-designated counties are located in 48 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. The Central Valley HIDTA covers 12 counties in the Eastern District of California, and funds several federal/state/local task forces in the region.

William Ruzzamenti, Executive Director of the Central Valley California HIDTA stated: “The National Prosecutor of the Year is a very significant and prestigious award. It recognizes that Ms. Escobar is not only one of this country's most outstanding prosecutors, but also as a special person within her community. Ms. Escobar blends a tremendous legal intellect with old fashion common sense in an extraordinary way to assure criminals are held accountable.”

U.S. Attorney Wagner echoed those sentiments, saying, “Karen Escobar has long been one of the most productive federal narcotics prosecutors in this district. She has been a particular leader in combatting the environmental devastation caused by marijuana cultivators in National Forests and National Parks. I am very pleased that her work is now being recognized on a national level. This award is well-deserved.”

Karen Escobar has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Fresno for more than 26 years, specializing in the prosecution of drug trafficking organizations plaguing California’s Central Valley. She has prosecuted more than 2,000 federal cases with a conviction rate of 99 percent. She pioneered the pursuit of environmental crime charges against illegal marijuana growers whose toxic cultivation practices endanger wildlife, the environment, and public health; holding them responsible for their actions and bringing much-needed public attention to the issue. She contributed to the development of national sentencing guidelines for environmental harm caused by illegal marijuana grows.

Updated February 22, 2016

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