WASHINGTON: In September 2022, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) announced that four special agents with the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) received the FLEOA’s 2021 National Award for Investigative Excellence for uncovering a revenge plot that involved two murders carried out by dismissed and current employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. The investigation, conducted by Supervisory Special Agent Christian Ehrhardt, and Special Agents Antonio Zamudio, Courtney Glass, and Val Penascino, led to the arrest and charges filed against multiple individuals involved in the crimes.
In 2019 and 2020, two members of U.S. Embassy Kingston’s local guard force (LGF) were murdered in what appeared to be two random killings in Jamaica. However, the DSS team at the embassy received a tip that the two murders were connected, which led to an in-depth investigation that revealed a revenge plot concocted by a former LGF member who had been dismissed due to criminal misconduct. The individual began a campaign to kill those he thought were responsible for his dismissal from the embassy.
Zamudio, Glass, and Penascino’s investigation uncovered previously unknown ties between former and current LGF members and criminals in Jamaica who were supporting the individual intent on revenge. As they continued to follow leads and build the case, Ehrhardt worked closely with Jamaican law enforcement and the Ministry of National Security to move the investigation forward within the Jamaica legal system. In partnership with local authorities, the months-long investigation led to the arrest and prosecution of one suspect, with another pending trial.
According to the citation, “t was only through the tireless work of members of the RSO Kingston team that this investigation was successful…. The investigative work done by RSO Kingston was truly an essential part of ensuring the safety, security, and peace of mind of the entire U.S. Embassy Kingston family and achieving justice for murdered U.S. overnment employees.”
DSS has the largest global presence of any U.S. law enforcement organization, operating at more than 270 U.S. diplomatic posts in over 170 countries, and in 33 U.S. cities. The organization is responsible for investigating transnational crimes and for protecting State Department facilities, people, and information.