Special Tribute

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) depends upon the assistance of other Department of Justice components and employees. We take this opportunity to honor Department employees and others who have had a special impact on our work.

The OIG pays special tribute to four investigators involved in a San Diego Civil Rights Task Force investigation of immigration document fraud. This 2-year investigation, dubbed "Operation Whitelight," resulted in a 63-month prison sentence for a San Diego woman convicted of defrauding 99 undocumented immigrants by impersonating an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) employee and selling them counterfeit immigration documents. The San Diego Task Force was formed in 1997 to investigate physical abuse, economic exploitation, and illegal employment in California's San Diego and Imperial Counties.

The Department of Justice described Operation Whitelight as the first successful effort in a national campaign to target immigration fraud. As a result of their work, the team received the first Attorney General's Award for Fraud Prevention. In addition, investigative procedures developed in this case are being reviewed by INS for adoption in the San Diego District office and elsewhere.

Due in part to this investigation, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, the City Attorney for the City of San Diego, and the Mexican Consul for San Diego have developed the "Immigration Fraud Initiative" for San Diego County. This initiative calls for a partnership to deter economic exploitation of immigrants in San Diego County through investigations, prosecutions, and increased public awareness.

Operation Whitelight demonstrates how teamwork among law enforcement agencies can lead to prevention of significant immigration fraud. In recognition of their outstanding achievement, the OIG honors INS Special Agents Beth A. Wong, Gwyn Grippo, and Andres Ruiz and OIG Special Agent Robin R. Clements.