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New U.S. Attorney For Southern District Of California

SAN DIEGO - Veteran federal prosecutor Laura E. Duffy was sworn in today as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, based in San Diego.

Duffy, 47, replaces Karen P. Hewitt, who got the job in early 2007 after Carol Lam was fired in a controversial move that was branded as political by federal prosecutors. The U.S. Senate confirmed Duffy's nomination last Friday.

"I look forward to working hard for the people of this district as United States Attorney and to expanding upon the traditions of excellence for which this office is known," Duffy said in a statement.

"Having been with the office for a number of years, I know that the staff is mindful of the public trust we are privileged to carry -- and that it is committed to representing the people of this district with the highest standards of integrity and fairness."

Duffy has been with office she will now head since 1997, where she was an Assistant United States Attorney with the Narcotics Enforcement Section.

In 2007, Duffy became the Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Section. Prior to that, Duffy worked for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice from 1993 to 1997.

Hewitt said she is resigning this month from the U.S. Department of Justice after 18 years, and will start work at a law firm in San Diego in August.

"I am proud of what our team has accomplished over the past three years to protect and serve our community," Hewitt said. "Through Laura's vision, the important work of prosecuting federal crimes and protecting the United

States' civil interests will only continue to improve in the years to come."

Some of the significant cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office during Hewitt's tenure include convictions of seven members of the Mexican Mafia in 2007 for a racketeering conspiracy resulting in murder. All received life sentences.

Businessman Brent Wilkes was also convicted of bribing then-Congressman

Randy "Duke" Cunningham, under Hewitt, and more than a dozen members of the

Arellano-Felix Organization of drug runners were also sent to prison.

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