Justice Department Recognized NCIS Team with Missing Children's Law Enforcement Award
WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice today honored five special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service headquarters and field offices for their investigation of child sex crimes, exploitation and enticement, as part of the 39th annual National Missing Children’s Day commemoration.
Special Agents Maria Markley (Washington, DC), Star’Shemah Sylvestre (Quantico, VA), Kelli Johnson (Washington, DC), Lisa Carroll (Norfolk, VA) and Brandy Nettles (Meridian, MS) received the Missing Children’s Law Enforcement Award, which recognizes the extraordinary efforts of law enforcement officers who have made a significant investigative or program contribution to the safety of children.
“This outstanding team of professionals established a sophisticated network of cyber tools and investigative resources that was used with great success in tracking down scores of child exploitation suspects and identifying dozens of victims,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon. “Under the direction of Special Agent Markley, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and its domestic and international law enforcement partners are putting an end to predatory operations and delivering justice to children and their families.”
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is a civilian federal law enforcement agency within the Department of the Navy, tasked to defeat criminal, terrorist and counterintelligence threats by conducting operations and investigations ashore, afloat and in cyberspace, including participation with National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Internet Crimes Against Children task forces across the country.
Special Agents Maria Markley, Star’Shemah Sylvestre, Kelli Johnson, Lisa Carroll and Brandy Nettles participated in two significant NCIS initiatives over the past year, Operation Stolen Innocence and a cyber operation targeting DON offenders. These included building a complex computer program to collect and analyze data from multiple sources.
In January 2021, NCIS Headquarters Criminal Investigations and Operations Directorate launched Operation STOLEN INNOCENCE to increase ICAC-related training, coordination and investigation of child sex crimes on military bases. During the operation, NCIS offices launched 12 additional proactive operations and generated 180 child exploitation related investigations, which resulted in the identification of 148 subjects and 53 victims of abuse. Many of these investigations and operations were worked jointly with local ICAC task forces and member agencies. NCIS field offices across the globe remain engaged in these proactive efforts with local, state, federal and foreign partners.
Special Agent Maria Markley supported NCIS Headquarters efforts from the Cyber Operations Field Office and led a team that coordinated efforts by NCIS Criminal Investigations and Operations Directorate, Cyber Directorate, National Criminal Justice Training Center’s Fox Valley Technical College and the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenities Section, to build a complex computer program and special interface to collect and analyze data from multiple sources. In June 2021, the system became operational and has successfully identified Department of the Navy offenders.
“We are truly fortunate to have this elite team of law enforcement professionals working to protect children here in the U.S. and beyond our shores,” said OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan. “I am proud to honor every member of this group for their exceptional vigilance, extraordinary resourcefulness and steadfast commitment to the safety and welfare of our young people.”
The Department also recognized four members of the Wisconsin Internet Crimes Against Children task force and an Assistant U.S. Attorney of the Western District of Wisconsin; and an assistant special agent in charge and intelligence analyst from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in Nashville for their efforts to prevent child sexual exploitation and bring missing children home. The Department declared Sue Lee from St. James Episcopal Elementary School in Los Angeles, California, winner of the 2022 National Missing Children’s Day poster contest.
Every year on May 25, the Office of Justice Programs’ Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention leads the nation in observing National Missing Children’s Day, first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. This day shines a spotlight on child safety and honors the professionals dedicated to protecting children around the country.
In lieu of an in-person ceremony, OJJDP is launching a website today featuring information about the awardees and statements from OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Solomon, OJJDP Administrator Ryan and President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Michelle DeLaune.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance, and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and strengthen the criminal and juvenile justice systems. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.