The United States Department of Homeland Security bestowed the first ever Operation Stonegarden Top Performers award on Thursday to the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department.

The award was presented to JWC Sheriff’s staff by United States Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Rodolfo Karisch.

“This is an excellent accomplishment. We are very pleased to accept the award. To be recognized from the San Antonio area all the way down to the Rio Grande Valley, is an accomplishment. This is an administrative team that has worked very hard,” Sheriff Daniel Bueno said. “This is the first time an award like this has been given out...We strive to do the best everyday...Our people here are top notch.”

Sheriff Bueno believes this award proves that his department has helped meet one of his goals when he became the new sheriff in 2017.

“When I took over, I said that we would be recognized by surrounding law enforcement agencies as the top law enforcement agency in the area. This, in itself, shows you what direction the department has taken,” Sheriff Bueno said.

The department’s administrators like Lt. Rey Aguilar, whose in charge of the Operation Stonegarden grant must turn in all cases over to the DHS; everything from narcotics, money seizures, illegal immigration, stolen vehicles, weapon seizures and more. All this data was used to determine who would receive this top award.

Jim Wells County receives $200,000 a year to operate the grant.