The Mission Statement of the District Attorney’s Office

The district attorney, as a public prosecutor of both criminal and civil cases, ensures that justice is done and that the rights of all are safeguarded. The district attorney works with every component of the criminal justice system and the entire community, to protect the innocent, to convict and appropriately punish the guilty, and to protect the rights of victims and witnesses.

Who we are

  • ASSISTANT D.A.    

Gilbert G. Otero

District Attorney

Gilbert G. Otero was born and raised in Brawley, California. He graduated from Brawley Union High School in 1973 and earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1978 from San Diego State University. He obtained his law degree from Western State University College of Law in 1983. After graduating from law school he returned to Imperial County and opened his own law practice in Brawley.

Mr. Otero was elected District Attorney in June 1994 and took office in January 1995. As the elected District Attorney he served two terms as President of the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) in 2002 to 2004, co-chair of the CDAA Rural Counties Committee and was a member of the State Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault under the former California Office of Criminal Justice Planning. He is currently on the CDAA Board of Directors. In addition to his involvement with CDAA, Mr. Otero serves on the Executive Boards of the California Border Alliance Group and the Imperial Valley Drug Coalition as well as Chair of the Imperial County Narcotics Task Force.

Mr. Otero and his wife, Deborah, have three children and two grandchildren.


Heather Trapnell

Assistant District Attorney

Heather Trapnell has been employed as a Deputy District Attorney for the County of Imperial since 2004. During her time with the District Attorney’s Office, she has prosecuted cases ranging from misdemeanors to murders.

In 2011, Ms. Trapnell was awarded the Rural County Outstanding Prosecutor of the Year Award by the California District Attorneys Association. Ms. Trapnell is currently the supervisor of the District Attorney’s state prison prosecution unit and the narcotics unit.

Ms. Trapnell received her law degree from the University of California Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law in 2001. She was awarded her Bachelors of Arts in political science from the University of California, San Diego in 1996. Prior to joining the District Attorney’s Office, Ms. Trapnell worked as a litigation associate at Latham and Watkins in San Diego.


Bureau Mission Statement

The Imperial County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation is dedicated to the protection of our communities and serving the victims of crime in Imperial County. Our goal is to create a sense of security for our citizens through vigorous enforcement of criminal and civil laws in a just, honest, efficient, and ethical manner.

About the Bureau

  • The District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation is comprised of sworn peace officers as described in Penal Code 830.1 and civilian personnel who perform a wide variety of investigative functions.
  • The District Attorney’s investigative authority is the most comprehensive of all local law enforcement agencies. The investigative functions of the District Attorney extend far beyond the traditional support of prosecuting attorneys in hearings and trials to complex and specialized investigations not routinely handled by the detectives in traditional sheriffs and police agencies.
  • The District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation’s primary role is to provide prosecutorial support that assists the Deputy District Attorneys in proving the criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.  Even though all criminal cases require investigative support, staffing levels allow only a few individual cases (or in some cases particular programs augmented by grant funding) to receive extensive investigative attention based in large measure on the case’s size, potential impact, or sensitivity.
  • In addition to these duties, the Bureau of Investigation conducts officer-involved shooting investigations, protected person operations, assists in grand jury investigations, and public integrity investigations.

Contact Us

If you are a defendant in a criminal case and you are represented by an attorney, the California Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit the District Attorney from communicating directly with you concerning your case. Please contact your attorney if you have questions concerning your case.

District Attorney’s Office
940 West Main Street, Suite 102
El Centro, California 92243
(442) 265-1175

Child Support

As a result of state legislation, the Imperial County District Attorney’s Office no longer has jurisdiction over child support collection and services. Please contact the Department of Child Support Services for more information.

Reporting a Crime

To report a crime, your first call must be made to your local police agency or responsible investigating agency. Police investigators and agencies respond to criminal complaints and, if they conclude charges should be filed, the case is referred to the District Attorney’s Office for review.

Jury Service

Questions about jury duty can be answered by visiting the Jury Services page on the Superior Court website.

Speaker’s Request

District Attorney Gilbert G. Otero, prosecutors and investigators are available to speak to community groups on criminal justice topics of interest. Presentations may focus on child abuse, elder abuse, juvenile justice, domestic violence, gang violence, workers’ compensation fraud, identity theft, and other areas of concern. To request a speaker, please download the Speakers Request Form.