Rim Country law enforcement officers representing five agencies will be honored Jan. 17 in Washington, D.C. for their efforts in the fight against illegal drugs.
Among the contingent of honorees is Arizona Department of Public Safety detective Tony McDaniel, who is also a member of the Gila County Narcotics Task Force.
McDaniel, a DPS officer for the past 18 years, is among 16 individuals from around the country slated to receive the National Marijuana Eradication Imitative award.
Also to be honored at the ceremony will be the local law enforcement team of DPS Sgt. Terry Lincoln, U.S. Forest Service officer Chris Boehm, DEA agent Rod Garza and Phoenix Police Department officer Keith Yingling.
All were members, along with McDaniel, of the law enforcement team that over the past four years has eradicated more than 30 illegal marijuana farms and 200,000 plants in the Gila County area.
Among the most productive years was 2006 when more than 104,000 pounds of marijuana plants with a street value of $52 million-plus were eradicated, following 21 raids conducted on national forest lands near Payson.
In 2005, agents say 110,939 marijuana plants were eradicated, with a street value of more than $200 million.
Last summer, the drug agents conducted a raid on a marijuana field found in the South Deer Creek Springs area. There, agents found 8,000-plus plants, with a street value of $1,360,000. During the raid, agents also arrested of pair of illegal immigrants and a juvenile who were charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.
Lincoln -- who is a member of the Gila County Narcotics Task Force -- lauded her fellow agents saying, "It is an honor to work with the officers and the agencies and to be able to accomplish what we did."
Lincoln also said that McDaniel received his individual award, "for his expertise in law enforcement, his experience and knowledge of the area."
McDaniel is the only law enforcement officer from Arizona who will receive the award. Most are from California, Tennessee, Kentucky and Hawaii.
All the individual and team winners will receive their awards from John P. Walters, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy during the National Marijuana Eradication Imitative Conference in Washington, D.C.
The ceremony will be held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House.