Thomas J. Byrne; DEA Supervisory Agent in Houston

Thomas J. Byrne joined the DEA in 1991.
Thomas J. Byrne joined the DEA in 1991. (Drug Enforcement Agency)
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By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 5, 2008

Thomas J. Byrne, 40, a supervisory special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration, died Aug. 30 after he was jumped, abducted and beaten on a street in New Orleans, where he was attending an organized crime drug enforcement conference.

Mr. Byrne was apparently abducted the evening of Aug. 28 while walking to his hotel. He was found, badly beaten, 40 blocks away by a passerby, and rushed to Tulane University Medical Center. After multiple surgeries, he died two days later from his wounds.

Two people have been arrested on state charges of possession and use of Mr. Byrne's credit cards as well as federal bank fraud charges. The killing remains under investigation by the New Orleans Police Department, with the assistance of the DEA, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service.

In a message to DEA offices nationwide, acting administrator Michele M. Leonhart called Mr. Byrne was "an agent's agent -- a tremendous case-maker, talented investigator and tireless soldier in the war against drugs. No doubt, he was a shining star in our DEA family."

Mr. Byrne, a 1986 graduate of Chantilly High School, had been the group supervisor of the Houston field division of the DEA since 2006. He previously worked for four years at the DEA office in Nassau, the Bahamas, the Miami field division and the Washington field division.

He was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and moved with his family to Fairfax County in 1981. After high school, he went to James Madison University, graduating in 1991. The son of a retired DEA special agent and the son-in-law of an FBI agent, Mr. Byrne joined the DEA just days after his college graduation. He worked first as an intelligence research specialist assigned to DEA headquarters in the financial and special intelligence section. He also worked in the DEA intelligence division's major investigations unit.

Mr. Byrne was a former member of St. Timothy Catholic Church in Chantilly. He lived in The Woodlands, Tex., and coached one of his sons' football team.

Survivors include his wife of 12 years, Maureen Elizabeth Feeney Byrne of The Woodlands; four sons, Tommy, Joseph, Matthew and Michael Byrne, all of The Woodlands; his parents, Thomas G. Byrne and Joan Byrne, both of Fairfax; and two sisters, Patricia Byrne of Triangle and Joanne Weakley of Fairfax.

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