Drug ‘strike force’ dedicated to former PTC man

Thu, 03/29/2007 - 2:47pm
By: The Citizen

More than 100 friends, family members and law enforcement officers from around the country took part Thursday afternoon in an emotional dedication of the “David G. Wilhelm OCDETF Strike Force,” a special cooperative drug task force named after the slain U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Special Agent In Charge, based in Atlanta.

The initiative is being named after Wilhelm, who lived in Peachtree City while building a home in Buckhead where he was killed by Fulton County court escapee Brian Nichols over a year ago, police said.

Specifically, the Wilhelm Strike Force brings together the assets and strengths of federal, state, and local drug enforcement agencies into one co-located task force, designed to investigate and prosecute the highest-level members of international drug cartels that have operations in metro Atlanta and throughout the United States. Because metro Atlanta has become one of the country’s primary hubs for the transportation and distribution of cocaine, methamphetamine, other illegal drugs, and the proceeds of drug sales, the Strike Force will not only identify and dismantle the Atlanta components of these cartels but also will seek the arrest and extradition of the cartels’ leadership and the forfeiture of their profits and assets.

The Atlanta Strike Force will focus on national investigations that are coordinated with other OCDETF Strike Forces and investigators located throughout the United States and the world.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said the Atlanta effort will have a special motivating factor for each and every agent--the memory of the man Nahmias called “a great law enforcement agent,” the late David Wilhelm.

The concept of the Strike Force was initiated by special agents in charge of the federal law enforcement agencies here in Atlanta along with the United States Attorney, who participate in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). They recognized that a special collaborative effort was necessary to effectively combat the growth of metro Atlanta as a hub for drug distribution and collection of drug proceeds. The new Atlanta OCDETF Strike Force will work with the nationwide efforts of OCDETF, which has helped to establish similar Strike Forces in Houston, New York City, Boston, and plans are to expand the concept to other major cities.

At the program Thursday, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Drug Enforcement Administrator Karen Tandy, ATF Acting Director Michael Sullivan, Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Julie L. Myers, and other senior federal officials spoke of the critical nationwide efforts to stop drug trafficking, and the key role such cooperative Strike Forces will have in investigating, gathering intelligence and information, and turning their efforts into successful federal prosecutions with long sentences for those who poison our communities with drugs.

The emotional dedication ceremony also included the singing of The National Anthem by David Wilhelm’s brother, Patrick, who is also an ICE Special Agent; a ceremonial “fly over” by aircraft from the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Atlanta Police Department, Clayton County Police Department, DeKalb County Police Department, Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, and the Georgia State Patrol; the unveiling of a special plaque commemorating David G. Wilhelm, and naming the Strike Force after him, and remarks from other DEA, FBI, ATF, IRS, Fayette County and DeKalb County officials, as well as a representative of Highwoods Properties, the managing organization for the building space that houses the Strike Force, and a key sponsor for the ceremony and reception for the family and friends of David G. Wilhelm. The news media was also given a tour of the property’s office space to be used by the Strike Force.

The partners in the Strike Force include: ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE, IRS, U. S. Attorney’s Office, United States Marshals Service, GBI, Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia State Board of Pardons & Paroles, Georgia National Guard, Clayton County Police Department, DeKalb County Police Department, Fayette County Sheriff's Office, Gwinnett County District Attorney, Gwinnett County Police Department, Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department, and the Lawrenceville Police Department.

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