The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Thursday honored a former Montana federal prosecutor for her work in prosecuting multiple defendants in a large undercover investigation into drug trafficking, guns and robberies in the Billings area.
The ATF gave Marcia Hurd, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Billings, its Honor Award for her work on Operation Billings Area Criminals, which convicted 22 defendants in federal court in 2012 and 2013.
Multiple shootings in 2009 and 2010 led to a yearlong, multi-agency investigation, which involved the ATF setting up a tattoo shop so undercover agents could infiltrate criminal activity in the community.
The prosecutions led to the convictions of 22 defendants and the removal of 52 unlawfully possessed guns from the streets, said Montana U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter in a news release.
“Operation BAC is a testament to the profound power of agency collaboration,” Cotter said. “Law enforcement identified a dangerous and escalating situation in our community and battled it head on. This award is a distinct honor for Ms. Hurd and the U.S. Attorneys Office for the District of Montana,” he said.
Ken Bray, ATF’s resident agent in charge in Montana, said Hurd “worked tirelessly prosecuting and managing the legal aspects of this long-term and complex investigation. Ms. Hurd’s substantial efforts have made the Billings area a safer place to live. We are proud to present her with this award.”
During the probe, agents infiltrated criminal organizations in the community, stopped planned criminal activity and halted the distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy and prescription pills.
In addition, the undercover work led to the capture in Bozeman of Cleveland Boyer, who was wanted in the March 2010 shooting death of Danny Valenzuela in a downtown convenience store.
Boyer was arrested within 24 hours of the shooting, convicted of murder in state district court and sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years. He died in August 2013 at Montana State Prison of a drug overdose.
The operation was a joint investigation with the ATF, federal Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Billing Police Department and the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office.
Hurd currently works as counsel to the Director of the Office of Tribal Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice. She received the award during the 18th annual AFT awards ceremony at ATF headquarters in Washington, D.C.