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Press Release

United States Attorney’s Office Employees Receive Prestigous Anti-Defamation League Award

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

RALEIGH - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of the Nation’s premier civil rights agencies, awarded the Raleigh-Durham Joint Terrorism Task Force and a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh, the 2015 ADL Service, Honor, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership, and Dedication (SHIELD) Award for the investigation and prosecution of Erwin Antonio Rios.  The award ceremony took place on October 13, 2015 in Washington, D.C.  Rios intended to commit violent acts against innocent people in furtherance of this extremist doctrine of hate.  He planned to wage violent jihad overseas and in the United States.

“This award encapsulates the idea that shared missions, attitudes, and dedication by prosecutors and investigative teams are harbingers of success, and most certainly worthy of recognition,” says USA Walker.  “We are honored by this prestigious recognition.”

The National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office handled this case and in this instance specifically included the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Kellhofer and Intelligence Research Specialist Sarah Foster. 

At the ceremony the ADL honored law enforcement heroes who have protected our nation and communities from hate crimes and terrorist threats.  The SHIELD award was created in 2010 to annually honor law enforcement for major successes in the fight against hate crimes and domestic and international terrorism.  The Award’s name reflects law enforcement’s role as protectors, and is also an acronym for the core values of the profession:  Service, Honor, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership, and Dedication.

Kellhofer and Foster, along with many other federal and local law enforcement agents, analysts, and attorneys assisted in the investigation of the case.  The award was given for their dedication and extraordinary competence in the investigation and successful prosecution of Erwin Antonio Rios of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Rios is a self-proclaimed adherent to the extremist views propogated by extremist terrorist groups.  Rios desired to travel overseas in order to further what he termed “jihad” and expressly defined as various forms of violence against those he determined to be non-believers – to include U.S. forces.  In order to obtain the funds necessary for such travel, Rios devised a scheme to commit violent robberies within North Carolina.  He intended to leave no witnesses alive in order to better secure success.  As an initial step, Rios sought out a firearm and expressed willingness to purchase a stolen hand gun.  The FBI subsequently provided Rios with the opportunity to purchase a purportedly stolen hand gun through a confidential informant.  On February 7, 2013, Rios eagerly provided the funds for purchase of a weapon he believed to be stolen and was immediately taken into custody.  Rios subsequently plead guilty to knowing possession of a stolen firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j) and to having sought to accomplish the crime in order to further terrorist activity.   On October 8, 2013, in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Senior District Judge Howard sentenced Erwin Antonio Rios to ten years’ imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release.

Updated October 23, 2015