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Tag: Puerto Rico

FBI Agent in Puerto Rico Believed to Be First Black Woman Selected for SWAT Team

Tai is believed to be the first Black FBI agents to be selected for the SWAT team. Photo: FBI.

By Steve Neavling

An FBI special agent in Puerto Rico is believed to be the first Black woman tapped to serve on the bureau’s SWAT team.

The 32-year-old agent, whom the FBI identifies in a press release as Tai, began her first day of Now Operator Training School, or NOTs, a 10-week proving ground for selectees, in May. 

During the training, Tai said she wasn’t focused on breaking racial barriers.

“I’m one of those people where I have a task at hand and I just focus on that task,” Tai said. “I don’t really think about people looking at me.”

But, she added, she hopes her selection inspires others. 

Tai is training to be on the FBI SWAT team. Photo: FBI.

“Hopefully somebody will see that I was able to do it,” Tai said. “I’m not the biggest person. I’m not as strong as some of these guys. But as long as you have perseverance—because it does get really tough—you push through it and keep going.”

Tai’s career with the FBI began in 2017, when she was assigned to the San Juan Field Office, investigating corruption. 

Before joining the FBI, Tai was a deputy for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orland, Fla., and is also a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve. 

The mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando inspired Tai to join the FBI. 

“The amount of assets and the professional attitude of agents,” she said. “They were organized, and they got stuff done.”

TAI said she’s grateful for the Black female agents who preceded her. 

“I’m definitely thankful for all the Black women before me in the FBI,” Tai said. “Because if it didn’t start with that one, who knows how many there would be today, if any. I’m definitely grateful for all of them before me.”

Joseph Gonzalez Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s San Juan Field Office in Puerto Rico

FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph Gonzalez

By Steve Neavling

Joseph Gonzalez has been appointed special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office in Puerto Rico. 

Gonzalez, who most recently served as the FBI’s legal attaché in Mexico City, joined the FBI as a special agent in 2003 in the New York Field Office, where he investigated white-collar crime. He also served on New York’s Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team and its Rapid Deployment Team.

Gonzalez transferred to the San Juan Field Office in 2016 to investigate organized crime, international drug trafficking and money laundering, and violent gangs. He also served as a crisis negotiator and a crisis management coordinator. In 2011, Gonzalez was promoted to supervisory special agent of San Juan’s Criminal Enterprise Squad and served as the coordinator for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. In 2012, he became supervisor of the Public Corruption/Civil Rights squad.

In 2014, Gonzalez was named chief of the Public Corruption Unit in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters and served as the acting section chief of the Public Corruption Civil Rights Section.

In 2016, Gonzalez became assistant special agent in charge of the Special Operations Branch of the Newark Field Office in New Jersey, overseeing surveillance and aviation operations, human intelligence, security, language services, the undercover program, and several other programs.

In 2017, Gonzalez was promoted to chief of the Operational Support Section in the International Operations Division at headquarters, overseeing several units. He became legal attaché in Mexico City in 2018, serving as the primary liaison to the FBI’s Mexican counterparts.

Before joining the FBI, Gonzalez was a certified public accountant. He received a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University in 1999.

The bureau also announced other promotions Monday. Cathy L. Milhoan was named assistant director of the Office of Public Affairs; Alyssa M. Doyle was appointed to special agent in charge of the Counterintelligence and Cyber Division at the Los Angeles Field Office; and Jesse Levine was named special agent in charge of the Intelligence Division of the New York Field Office. 

FBI Agent Robbed at Gunpoint in Puerto Rico, Stealing Bureau Credentials And Official Weapon

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities are looking for three men who robbed an FBI agent at gunpoint in an attempted carjacking in Puerto Rico.

The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information about the three suspects who were driving a black Mercedes Benz, the Associated Press reports.

The suspects stole the agent’s wallet, FBI credentials and official firearm Saturday night in the Ocean Park neighborhood in the capital of San Juan.

While the number of reported carjackings have increased in Puerto Rico this year, crimes are rare in Ocean Park.

DEA Agent Who Protected Violent Puerto Rican Drug Cartel Pleads Guilty

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former police officer accused of joining the DEA so he could protect a violent Puerto Rican drug cartel has pleaded guilty.

Fernando Gomez, who infiltrated the DEA and was working in the Chicago field office, was arrested in December and charged with racketeering conspiracy for his alleged decade-long affiliation with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos. The gang, which imported vast shipments of cocaine into the U.S., was accused in the indictment of participating in at least eight drug-related killings in New York and Puerto Rico and smuggling thousands of kilograms of cocaine.

Gomez is accused of helping the gang beginning in 2006 when he was a detective with the city of Evanston.

Under a plea deal, the 42-year-old former U.S. Marine faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, The Associated Press reports.

FBI Arrests Former Top Puerto Rico Officials in Corruption Case

Puerto Rico flag.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI arrested two former top officials in Puerto Rico for allegedly directing about $15.5 million in federal funding to political connected businesses.

According to prosecutors, Julia Keleher, former secretary of the department of education, and Angela Avila-Marrero, former head of the Health Insurance Administration, illegally directed the money to contractors who paid “unauthorized commissions” to help lobby for more contracts.

Both officials served in the administration of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, prompting officials to calls for his resignation. Among those officials is Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, who is the chair of the Natural Resources Committee that oversees Puerto Rico.

“The Puerto Rican people deserve a government that takes public service seriously, that’s transparent and accountable, and that doesn’t let this happen in the first place,” Grijalva said in a statement.

The 32-count indictment charged four other consultants with wire fraud, theft and money laundering.

The charges come at a political sensitive time. Congress recently approved billions of dollars in aid to the island. It wasn’t immediately clear whether that money is now in jeopardy.

DEA Agent Accused of Helping Drug Cartel Was Denied Bond Because of ‘Double Life’

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former police officer accused of joining the DEA so he could protect a Puerto Rican drug cartel was ordered to stay behind bars Monday until his September trial.

DEA Agent Fernando Gomez, who worked in the Chicago field office, was arrested in December and charged with racketeering conspiracy for his alleged decade-long affiliation with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos. The gang, which imported vast shipments of cocaine into the U.S., was accused in the indictment of participating in at least eight drug-related killings in New York and Puerto Rico.

Manhattan federal Judge Jesse Furman denied bail to Gomez, saying he was a flight risk because he lived double lives for decades, New York Post reports.

“It raises in my mind an extraordinary level of deviousness,” Furman said.

Gomez is accused of helping the gang beginning in 2006 when he was a detective with the city of Evanston.

FBI Probes $300 Million Contract With Whitefish Energy Holdings, Which Has Ties to Trump Administration

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaojaaaajdqzmwixmwq1lwfingqtnge3ni04mtvmltuxztm4zwnhmdrknwBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
The FBI has opened a preliminary inquiry into the $300 million Whitefish Energy Holdings contract secured by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which has ties to the Trump administration, CNN reports.

The Montana energy firm was contracted to rebuild the damaged electrical grid that was destroyed by hurricanes that struck the island. The story was first reported by the The Wall Street Journal.

The company is based in and named after the small hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The CEO is an acquaintance of the secretary, CNN reports.  An investment firm that owns a major stake in the company is run by a donor to Trump’s presidential campaign.

 

Parker: Three Key Criminal Cases Before U.S. Supreme Court in January

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Supremes will consider three criminal cases in oral arguments scheduled for January 12 and 13. The effect of the decisions are not broad, but the cases illustrate the Court’s responsibility to keep the criminal justice system as construed by the lower courts consistent, rational, and based on precedent.

Those who are not part of the criminal justice system are often surprised when they learn that Double Jeopardy does not prevent separate sovereigns from launching separate prosecutions for the same conduct by a defendant. The most common example is when a defendant faces charges from a single course of conduct in both state and federal court. An acquittal or conviction in one jurisdiction does not preclude charges in another since each has the right to define and punish offenses committed in its jurisdiction.

Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle will decide whether that territory and the federal government are separate sovereigns permitting dual prosecutions. First, a bit of history. The United States obtained the island from Spain after the Spanish American War in 1898. It was a “splendid little war” which made the U.S. a colonial power and made Teddy Roosevelt the President. What could establish his executive qualifications better than the ability to lead a bunch of cowboys and polo players up San Juan Hill?

After the treaty in 1899 Congress established a civil government there with the Governor and the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico appointed by the President and any laws passed by the legislature submitted to Congress for potential annulment. In 1950 Congress offered Puerto Rico a “compact” of self-government. The islanders passed a Constitution in 1952, which was approved by Congress and President Truman. The Constitution removed the oversight powers of the President and the United States Congress, and Puerto Rico was empowered to make its own criminal laws.

Sanchez Valle was charged with illegal sale of firearms by Puerto Rican authorities. While the case was pending, however, he pled guilty to the federal version of the same offense and was sentenced to 5 months in prison, a much lighter sentence than the one he faced by the territorial charges. The trial court dismissed those latter charges as violating Double Jeopardy. The Puerto Rican Supreme Court agreed, holding that Puerto Rico was not a separate sovereign from the United States government.

The case comes down to whether the source of Puerto Rico’s authority to pass and enforce criminal laws is the 1952 Constitution or the ratification of this Constitution by Congress. Is Puerto Rico a sovereign part of the federal system in the same sense as states or an Indian tribe or is there enough of a vestige of colonialism to make the federal government the ultimate source of public power?

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