Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada has been awarded Mexico's highest and most prestigious civilian award, the "Ohti."
The Mexican Government gives the award annually to a Mexican citizen living and working abroad and who has given assistance to Mexican citizens or promoted their culture. The award's name means "clearing a path for others."
Estrada was born in Nogales, Mexico, and grew up in Nogales, Arizona. He has dual citizenship. He was just out of high school when he became a dispatcher for the Nogales Police Department in 1963.
Twenty five years later, he ascended to the second-highest position on the force. He retired, then ran for Santa Cruz County Sheriff. He's won that position seven terms.
The League of United Latin American Citizens nominated Estrada and will present the award at its national convention in Phoenix today.
“At a time when millions of Latinos in the United States live with the daily fear of law enforcement, Tony Estrada is one of the finest examples of an officer devoted to ensuring public safety while respecting the rights and freedoms of all residents in his jurisdiction," Sindy Benavides, Acting CEO and Chief Operating Officer for LULAC, said in a written statement.
She wrote that the organization is pleased Estrada is being recognized for more than 50 years of service.
Estrada is in his mid 70s, and while he has threatened to retire several times, he says his supporters have convinced him to stay on the job.