A former Maine Drug Enforcement Agent, Special Agent Chris Gardner, who died last year, has been honored by the U S Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. 


Special Agent Chris Gardner was posthumously honored for his work on a major federal firearms and drug investigation that involved Connecticut and Maine. The three year investigation was dubbed “Operation Blood Red” and began in 2013. The award ceremonies took place in Washington D.C.

Each year one case is selected from all cases investigated by ATF across the country to receive the Director's Award. In the ceremony attended by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Director Thomas Brandon noted that “Operation Blood Red” involved the arrest and prosecution of members and associates of a very violent New Haven, Connecticut street gang, “The Red Side Guerilla Brims”.  The gang had been involved in murder, firearms trafficking and drug trafficking in New Haven, CT. and Bangor.  The operation netted more than 30 arrests between Maine and Connecticut, including seven for homicide.

The crimes by the gang revolved around the sale of heroin and crack cocaine, along with the illegal acquisition of firearms, both through purchases made from a Bangor area gun dealer,  and others which were traded for drugs. The firearms were then transported out of state and used by gang members in crimes in New Haven and elsewhere.  All of the indictments resulted in convictions.  Also honored with Gardner from in this investigation an Assistant U.S. Attorney from the District of Maine (Bangor), several ATF agents, members of the New Haven Police Department’s Violent Crimes Task Force, along with three Assistant U.S. Attorneys from Connecticut.

Special Agent Gardner died suddenly last November as a result of complications from surgery to repair an injury he suffered on duty.  Gardner was a 27 year veteran Detective Sergeant with the University of Maine Police Dept. in Orono,  and had been assigned to MDEA for 10 years prior to his death. He was 47.

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