An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Life sentences in both cases

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) has announced that Clifton M. Funkhouser, a U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) special agent, is the recipient of the FLEOA’s 2020 National Award for Investigative Excellence.

Funkhouser, who grew up in Tacoma, Wash., is currently serving as the assistant regional security officer (ARSO) at the U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia. He received the award for his investigative work while serving as an assistant regional security officer-investigator (ARSO-I) at the U.S. Consulate General in Nogales, Mexico, from July 2016 to July 2018. The Investigative Excellence Award would normally be presented to Funkhouser at a luncheon in Washington, D.C., but the pandemic put the award presentation on hiatus for the time being.

Two of the subjects of Funkhouser’s Nogales cases (a murderer of a border patrol agent and a stepfather who kidnapped and tortured his daughter) were sentenced to life in federal prison last year.

He is believed to be the first DSS special agent to have two of his cases result in life sentences in one year.

“It was an honor to be nominated and to receive the FLEOA award,” said Funkhouser. “I am humbled because it represents all the often-unrecognized work that DSS does around the world with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs and our U.S. and international law enforcement partners.”

Funkhouser is the son of the late Cecilia Funkhouser and Thomas Funkhouser, and the stepson of Cheryl Funkhouser. His father and stepmother live in Edmonds, Wash. He also has two sisters in the Seattle area.

Funkhouser graduated from Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma in 1996 and received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., in 2000. He also holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Funkhouser’s wife, Rachael, is also from Tacoma. They met in Spokane while in college and have been traveling the world ever since.

Prior to joining DSS in 2008, Funkhouser spent eight years in various federal law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), the Bureau of Prisons, and Customs and Border Protection. He has served in the DSS San Francisco field office, the headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Seattle resident office conducting criminal investigations and working on protective details, as well as in Mexico, China, Iraq, and Mozambique. Funkhouser also worked on the protective details for U.S. Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Pompeo. In addition, he worked on protective details for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Queen Rania of Jordan, the British royal family, and other U.S. officials and foreign dignitaries.

DSS ARSO-Is investigate transnational crimes that affect U.S. citizens and national security, such as human and drug trafficking, non-citizen smuggling, murder, and terrorism. They work closely with U.S., international, and foreign law enforcement, security, and immigration organizations.

Funkhouser’s successes in the two cases that led to the FLEOA award are perfect examples of how DSS partners with other U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies on complex international, multi-jurisdictional cases.

The first case was a “cold” case involving the shooting and killing of USBP Agent Brian Terry in Arizona on Dec. 14, 2010. Funkhouser’s success in this case was made more remarkable by the fact that the gunman fled back to Mexico after a failed capture attempt and remained undetected for six years until Funkhouser received a cryptic tip regarding the location of “the shooter who murdered a U.S. officer on the border at some time.”

Funkhouser was able to work with Mexican nationals for several months to navigate through the information in the tip to finally confirm the subject’s false alias. He then worked on a binational manhunt that led to the capture of the shooter in April 2017 by a Mexican unit that tracked him to a remote location.

The second case that led to Funkhouser’s FLEOA award was widely covered by the media, including a People Magazine article called, “My Escape from Hell,” and an article on the DSS website. In this case, Funkhouser’s investigation led to the arrest of a man who had abducted his stepdaughter and held her captive for 19 years in Mexico and elsewhere while fathering her nine children. In July 2016, the victim was able to escape with eight children to the U.S. Consulate, where Funkhouser worked with the consular team to facilitate the victim and her children’s safe entry into the United States. During this time, Funkhouser collected sworn statements and evidence to help secure charges against the sexual predator who was previously unknown to U.S. and Mexican law enforcement. He worked closely with the FBI to detail the abuse and charge the defendant in the United States.

The Diplomatic Security Service is the U.S. Department of State’s law enforcement and security arm. DSS special agents, engineers, and other security professionals are responsible for the security of more than 270 diplomatic posts around the world. In the

United States, DSS personnel protect the U.S. Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States, investigate transnational crimes, and conduct personnel security investigations. For additional information about DSS, visit or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn @StateDeptDSS.

For additional information, contact:

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future