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November 2011

Special Agent Patrick Simpson

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Washington, DC — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has announced the selection of Special Agent Patrick Simpson of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as its Officer of the Month for November 2011.

Having a Panamanian mother, Special Agent Patrick Simpson spoke fluent Spanish from an early age. Never did this skill prove to be more critical than in the apprehension, interrogation and subsequent conviction of a known gang member and suspect of a double homicide.

On January 1, 2010, Miguel Espinal-Gomez, a purported Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang member who had entered the United States illegally, became infuriated when his girlfriend reportedly told him that her uncle had made sexual advances toward her. Enraged, he drove to the uncle’s residence, confronted him, and then stabbed the 35-year-old man and his 36-year-old paraplegic wife to death before fleeing the scene.

Local authorities, including the Upshur County (TX) Sheriff’s Office and the Gilmer (TX) Police Department, issued a capital murder warrant for Miguel Espinal-Gomez. The U.S. ICE National Gang Unit joined local authorities to assist with the investigation, along with Special Agent Simpson. Although he was not normally assigned to this unit, Special Agent Simpson brought his exemplary language and interviewing skills to the investigation.

Special Agent Simpson began interviewing the suspect’s Spanish-speaking relatives. After three grueling hours, he finally identified the fugitive’s hideout location: a cabin on a 100-acre ranch in east Texas. Special Agent Simpson and another agent located the cabin and observed it from a safe distance until they determined someone was inside. They called for backup immediately; however, it took some time for additional personnel to travel to the remote area. The wait for backup turned out to be a blessing in disguise: it allowed Special Agent Simpson to devise a plan to apprehend the suspect.

As law enforcement personnel from several local, state, and federal agencies surrounded the cabin, Special Agent Simpson approached the cabin and asked, in Spanish, for someone to open the door. As someone inside the cabin opened the door, Special Agent Simpson confirmed that it was in fact Espinal-Gomez. With the help of waiting United States Marshals and Texas Rangers, Special Agent Simpson successfully apprehended the suspect. The swift arrest proved crucial to the safety of all officers involved. A thorough search of the premises revealed rifles and other firearms strategically placed at every window of the cabin. Luckily, the fugitive was not given the opportunity to use them.

With the suspect under arrest, the Upsher County (TX) District Attorney’s Office asked Special Agent Simpson, the only officer on the scene who was fluent in Spanish, to conduct the interrogation. With commendable skill, Special Agent Simpson obtained a full confession for the double homicide and was also able to ascertain that the suspect had fully intended to engage in a gunfight with officers attempting to locate him. When Special Agent Simpson knocked on the cabin door, Miguel Espinal-Gomez explained that he believed it was a friend or relative who had asked him to open the door in Spanish, and indicated that he was exhausted from being on the run.

On December 6, 2010, Miguel Espinal-Gomez was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole after pleading guilty to capital murder.

Special Agent Simpson, an Army veteran who flew operations in Afghanistan, still serves with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) in Dallas, where he is assigned to the nationally recognized Special Response Team. He is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA).

Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.

Special Agent Patrick Simpson, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2011, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2012 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s 2013 calendar.

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