News Release Summary – December 15, 2021
San Diego – United States Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz has awarded former U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr. with the Distinguished Public Service Award, the agency’s highest public recognition, other than the gold and silver lifesaving medals. Today, on behalf of the Commandant, Rear Admiral Brian Penoyer, the agency’s District Eleven Commander, presented the award, which was bestowed in recognition of Brewer’s “outstanding advancement of the Coast Guard’s law enforcement mission as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California from 2019 to 2021.”
The award recognizes that under Brewer’s leadership, the Southern District of California “strengthened its comprehensive maritime counter-narcotics program to significantly disrupt the flow of narcotics and human smuggling in the California Coastal Region and the Eastern Pacific,” noting that on April 1st, 2020, the United States Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western hemisphere to disrupt the increasing flow of drugs. The award credits Brewer with spearheading the prosecution of many cases resulting from these interdictions and promoting the safety and security of the United States” through “the conviction of six defendants in two jury trials, the prosecution of twenty low profile and go fast vessels, and the arrest of key land-side organizers in Central and South America,” which “effectively stymied the flow of maritime smuggling and delivered a major setback to numerous drug trafficking organizations.”
The award notes that Brewer was responsible for leveraging “long-term proactive maritime investigations and inter-agency partnerships to launch a concerted effort to target and dismantle maritime Transnational Criminal Organizations,” using Coast Guard Eastern Pacific interdictions as the cornerstone of an innovative legal approach to pursue and eradicate these organizations. It asserts that “Brewer’s commitment to securing resources was vital for indicting 125 high level narcotics targets, seizing 45 metric tons of cocaine and $4.5M of bulk cash, and dismantling major Transnational Criminal Organizations in Colombia, Ecuador, and Guatemala.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Grossman opened today’s ceremony by thanking the U.S. Coast Guard, which has become an increasingly important law enforcement partner in the Southern District’s ongoing fight against drug and human smuggling. “This is a truly fitting award for Bob, who has devoted so much of his life to public service in many ways – as an Army Ranger and war hero, as a Deputy District Attorney, then as an Assistant United States Attorney, and ultimately a United States Attorney,” Grossman said. “Bob prioritized our partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, expanded our prosecutions of the agency’s drug interdictions, and effectively focused resources on proactive investigations designed to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations.”
At the ceremony, Brewer relayed his deep respect for the work of the U.S. Coast Guard, stating that his work with the agency “was a true highlight of my tenure as U.S. Attorney.” Brewer described the moving christening of the 32nd fast response cutter (FRC), Benjamin Bottoms and the offloading of massive major narcotics interdictions as significant moments reflecting the agencies’ strong partnership. “I am tremendously honored and grateful to be recognized by the Commandant,” Brewer said. “This very special award is really a reflection on the entire U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California. It is a tribute to the hard work of the dedicated and innovative team that made these prosecutions possible.”
Former Chief Judge Irma Gonzalez (retired), Mr. Brewer’s spouse, attended the ceremony, accompanied by current Chief District Court Judge Dana Sabraw, Magistrate Judge Andy Schopler, Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman, several USAO supervisors and U.S. Coast Guard Captain Timothy Barelli, the Commander of Sector San Diego.