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FBI’s First Latina to Lead a Field Office Is Named Assistant Director of Insider Threat Office

Special FBI agent Rachel Rojas

By Steve Neavling

Rachel Rojas, who was serving as special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office in Florida, has been named assistant director of the Insider Threat Office at FBI headquarters. 

Rojas’ career with the FBI began in 1996, when she served as an investigative specialist for the New York Field Office.

After completing her academy training in 2000, Rojas began investigating administrative and drug matters in New York. Following 9/11, she investigated financing data and communications linked to the attack. 

In 2005, Rojas was promoted to a supervisory special agent and transferred to the Terrorism Financing Operations Section of the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters. In 2007, she returned to New York to oversee the applicant program before shifting her focus to mortgage and bank fraud. 

In 2012, Rojas became assistant special agent in charge of New York’s Criminal Division, where she was responsible for overseeing financial crime threats, public corruption, civil rights, health care fraud, and other issues. 

The following year, Rojas was named assistant special agent in charge of New York’s Violent Criminal Threat Branch, managing the Safe Streets gang and violent crime task forces, bank robberies, fugitives, human trafficking, and other programs. 

In 2015, Rojas returned to FBI Headquarters to serve as a section chief in the Security Division, where she was responsible for the physical and technical protection of bureau employees, facilities, information, and operations worldwide. 

In 2019, Rojas was appointed to lead the Jacksonville Field Office in Florida, becoming the first Latina special agent in charge. 

Rojas received a bachelor’s degree in communications/journalism from Boston University and a master’s degree in international management/leadership from Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. 

Union Representing TSA Employees Asks Biden Administration to Delay Vaccine Deadline

By Steve Neavling

A labor union that represents federal workers, including TSA employees, is urging the White House to postpone the COVID-19 vaccine deadline until Jan. 4. 

The current deadline is Nov. 22. 

The request by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) comes after the Biden administration delayed the Nov. 22 deadline for federal contractors to Jan. 4. 

The AFGE said its members should not be held to a different deadline. 

“This double standard has caused confusion and distress among federal employees due to disparate treatment and incongruent deadlines for people who perform the government’s work in the same settings,” Everett Kelley, AFGE’s president wrote Tuesday to Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Budget and Management, Kiran Ahuja, acting director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Jeff Zients, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, CNBC reports.

“The effect upon morale of federal employees being subject to possible discipline at this time of year cannot be overstated,” Kelley wrote.

Employees who aren’t vaccinated face possible termination or suspension. 

Feds Seize 220 Pounds of Cocaine, Disrupt Mexico-to-Chicago Drug Pipeline

Plane seized in cocaine bust. Photo: DOJ

By Steve Neavling

Federal agents disrupted a suspected Mexico-to-Chicago drug pipeline, seized a private plane and 220 pounds of cocaine, and arrested three people as part of the Nov. 3 operation, the Justice Department said Tuesday

About 176 pounds of the cocaine were discovered in a vehicle in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Another 44 pounds were found in a hotel room in the city’s Gold Coast neighborhood. 

Feds allege the cocaine had been flown from a private plane in Toluca, Mexico, to the Chicago area. Once the plane arrived at Gary/Chicago International Airport, the cocaine was stuffed in suitcases and driven to downtown Chicago. 

Sebastian Vazquez-Gamez, 30, of Mexico, and Rodrigo Alexis Jimenez-Perez, 25, of Indiana, were arrested in downtown Chicago. Sergio Ivan Blas was arrested in the Indianapolis area.   

FBI Arrests Suspected Serial Killer Accused of Fatally Shooting 6 People

Perez Reed, 25. Photo: St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office

By Steve Neavling

The FBI on Monday arrested a suspected serial killer who may have killed six people and wounded two others in Missouri and Kansas. 

Agents arrested Perez Reed, 25, at a bus station on Friday, The Kansas City Star reports.

According to a special agent’s affidavit, Reed was wanted for shootings that began Sept. 12 in St. Louis County. A .40 caliber Smith & Wesson was used in each shooting, and shell casings matched the same gun. 

During his arrest, Reed was in possession of that handgun, according to the affidavit.  

On Monday, Reed was charged with the murders of two people, and additional charges are pending. 

U.S. Attorney Sayler Fleming said more than half a dozen of law enforcement agencies were involved in a “relentless investigation of these hideous and violent crimes.”

FBI Assists in Investigation into Travis Scott’s Deadly Concert

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is helping investigate Friday’s deadly Astroworld concert in Houston, where eight people died after the crowd rushed toward the stage when rapper Travis Scott was on stage. 

The FBI is providing “some forms of technical assistance” to investigators, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Monday at a Justice Department news conference, ABC News reports.

Investigators are trying to determine how the melee happened, who’s to blame, and whether anyone is criminally liable. 

“There’s no question these kids were put in harm’s way,” legal analyst Carmen Roe told KHOU. “Now, who’s to blame will be the ultimate question here.”

The investigation will likely include sifting through thousands of cell phone videos, as well as the reaction from Scott, who continued to perform after concertgoers had collapsed.

Biden Nominates Kennth Wainstein to Lead Homeland Security’s Intelligence Division

Kenneth L. Wainstein

By Steve Neavling

Presiden Biden has nominated Kenneth L. Wainstein to lead Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. 

Wainstein served as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Homeland Security advisor under President George W. Bush and general counsel and chief of staff to the FBI Director Robert Mueller.

“Ken has decades of government experience at the highest levels,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Friday. “His deep expertise in national security, counterterrorism, and intelligence matters will benefit our Department and our Nation if he is confirmed. I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Ken to this critical leadership role.”

In 2020, Wainstein was among 20 GOP-appointed former U.S. attorneys who signed a letter calling then-President Trump “a threat to the rule of law in our country.” In the letter, the former U.S. attorneys also endorsed Biden for president. 

Waintstein is currently a litigation partner for Davis Polk & Wardwell in Washington D.C.

ATF Agent Recovers from Shooting As Police Search for Two Suspects

By Steve Neavling

Police are on the hunt for two suspects after an ATF agent was wounded in a shootout near downtown Spokane on Friday.

The unidentified agent has been released from the hospital.

The shooting occurred in a Motel 6 parking lot west of downtown Spokane. ATF agents exchanged gunfire with several suspects, the Associated Press reports.

One of the three suspects was wounded and taken to a hospital, where his condition is unknown. 

Meanwhile, Spokane Police SWAT officers and other law enforcement are searching for the two other suspects, who fled after the shootout. 

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