FBI Seeking Special Agents with Diverse Backgrounds

Crowd at FBI Diversity Agent Recruitment Program Information Session in Houston

Seeking Special Agents with Diverse Backgrounds

The Houston Division recently sponsored a recruiting event to attract applicants with diverse backgrounds to become special agents. Approximately 200 people attended the event, which included a video message from Director James Comey and presentations from a variety of agents about their varied paths to the Bureau.
March 23, 2017

Houston Recruiting Effort Part of National Campaign

When Special Agent Al Tribble joined the FBI 25 years ago, the organization wasn’t exactly known for its recruiting efforts—especially when it came to hiring women and people of color.

Much has changed since then. Today, the FBI understands that to effectively protect the American people, its special agents must reflect the diverse communities they serve. That’s why Tribble—who specializes in human trafficking and violent crimes against children investigations—participated in a recent recruiting event in Houston aimed at increasing diversity in the ranks of the FBI’s special agent corps.

As a veteran investigator and an African-American, Tribble spoke to potential applicants about the satisfaction of being a special agent. “The variety of work that you find in the FBI is unlike corporate America or any other private entity,” he said. “There’s so much you can do here, and you get to help people. When you take a victim of human trafficking and free her from her captors and reunite her with her family,” he explained, “there’s no feeling that can beat that.”

The FBI’s Diversity Agent Recruitment Program began in 2016 with an event in Washington, D.C., that attracted several hundred potential special agents from diverse backgrounds. The Houston event in January 2017 was attended by more than 200 people who heard from a panel of special agents about the varied paths that led them to the Bureau.

“I think a lot of people have in their mind what the FBI is and what the FBI does and what an FBI agent looks like,” said Special Agent Jenelle Janabajal, a presenter at the event, “and I think what we’re trying to do is maybe change some of those ideas and let people know that the FBI might be different from what you think.”

“What we’re trying to do is … let people know that the FBI might be different from what you think.”

Jenelle Janabajal, special agent, Houston FBI
Perrye K. Turner, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Houston Division, discusses the importance of diversity as it relates to the FBI’s recruitment efforts. The Houston Division recently sponsored a Diversity Agent Recruitment (DAR) event aimed at potential special agents.

Special Agent David Baker, who works with special agent job applicants in the Houston Division, put it another way: “It doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, what color you are, what race you are, what background you have,” he said, “there’s a place for you in the FBI.”

“One of the things that make us very attractive as an organization is that our employees have such different backgrounds,” said Perrye K. Turner, special agent in charge of the Houston Division. Turner, who has served as one of the Bureau’s national recruiters for nearly two decades, was instrumental in bringing the recent event to Houston. Such employee diversity means that “everybody brings something to the table,” he said. “That makes us stronger and more effective as an organization.”

The Path to the FBI

FBI agents from varied backgrounds describe how they arrived at the Bureau.

Tam Dao, a special agent in the Houston Division who primarily investigates national security crimes while also serving as a professor at the University of Houston, was born in Vietnam just weeks before the fall of Saigon in 1975.
Hesham Elgamiel, a special agent who supervises a counterterrorism unit in the FBI’s Houston Division, was born and raised in Egypt and arrived in the U.S. when he was 15.
Alfred Tribble Jr., a special agent in the FBI’s Houston Division who supervises investigations into human trafficking, civil rights violations, and violent crimes against children, worked in the banking industry before joining the Bureau 25 years ago.
Jenelle Janabajal, a special agent in the Corpus Christi office of the FBI’s Houston Division, was in the U.S Marine Corps and attended law school before joining the Bureau.

The women, Latinos, Asians, and African-Americans in the audience heard from a variety of FBI agents about what it’s like to do good for a living—to take violent criminals off the streets, to hold public officials accountable when they violate the public’s trust, to thwart spies who would steal national secrets, and to stop terrorists. And after the official presentation, they were able to talk one-on-one with agents.

The event began with a video message from Director James Comey, who told the group that when he joined the Bureau in 2013, he inherited a special agent population that was 83 percent white. Comey made diversity one of the Bureau’s core values and began to increase efforts at diversity hiring.

A career in the FBI is like no other, he said. “This in an incredible family where no matter what you look like—black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you’re straight or gay—you feel welcome once you join this family.”

The statistics bear out that fact. The FBI’s turnover rate among agents is less than 1 percent. “That’s extraordinarily low,” Comey said, “and the reason it’s so low is once people become part of this life and see what it’s like to have as your mission protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution of the United States, nobody leaves.”

Comey cautioned that becoming a special agent is difficult. “We need people of integrity—non-negotiable. We need people of high intelligence—essential to be able to do the complicated work we do. And we need people of a certain physicality. If you’re going to be a special agent in the FBI,” he said, “we’re going to give you a gun on behalf of the United States of America, and you better be able to run, fight, and shoot.”

But if you possess those skills, he added, the FBI can be a career like no other. “So here is my challenge to you,” he said. “I dare you to take your ability and try to be a part of this organization.”

“Our employees have such different backgrounds. That makes us stronger and more effective as an organization.”

Perrye K. Turner, special agent in charge, Houston FBI

Breaking News: Europol-Organised crime network involved in facilitated illegal immigration dismantled in Spain

With the support of Europol, the Spanish Guardia Civil has dismantled a criminal network accused of facilitating illegal immigration from Morocco to Spain, as well as trafficking hashish. It is estimated that the criminal network could have facilitated the entry of at least 300 irregular migrants, some of them minors, and made EUR 350 000 in profits.

During an action day on 21 March, eight suspects were arrested in the regions of Huelva and Moguer in southern Spain and six houses were searched. Europol supported the investigation by deploying an expert from Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre to Spain to provide real-time information exchange.

This action is part of a wider investigation named ‘’Yaravi’’ that started in October 2016. Since its beginning, 16 suspects have been arrested in total, alongside EUR 16 435, 17 mobile devices, two vehicles, one laptop and 132 kg of hashish seized.

The investigation began when Spanish authorities detected the arrival of various vessels transporting irregular migrants to the southern Spanish coast of Barbate. Investigations revealed at least eight disembarkations at the Spanish coast, facilitating the irregular entry of 30 to 45 migrants each, along with significant amounts of hashish.

The irregular migrants paid the organised crime group EUR 1200 euros in advance for the facilitation of their illegal immigration to Spain by sea. Some of these journeys were carried out in dangerous conditions, such as bad weather, and threatened migrants’ lives.

On arrival at the Spanish coast, the migrants were deprived of their personal belongings and mobile devices by members of the organised network and further transported to other regions such as Huelva and Almeria. There, they were kept in captivity against their will until their families paid an additional amount, which ranged from EUR from 350 to 700.

The arrestees have been charged with membership of an organised criminal network, alien workers rights infringement, hijacking, extortion, drug trafficking and child neglect.

The European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC)

The increasing involvement of organised criminal networks in facilitating illegal immigration in recent times called for an enhanced and coordinated response from European law enforcement agencies. Europol was tasked with strengthening its capabilities and launched the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) in February 2016. During the first year, the EMSC’s 45 migrant smuggling specialists and analysts comprehensively supported European police and border control authorities in coordinating highly complex cross-border anti-smuggling operations. The centre focuses on geographical criminal hotspots, and on building a better capability across the EU to fight organised people smuggling networks operating in them.

For more information on EMSC’s activities and trends in migrant smuggling, read the EMSC activity report: 1 year.

Further details available on Guardia Civil’s press realease.

Wanted by the FBI: Applicants for the Denver Teen Academy

The FBI Denver Division and Denver Chapter FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association cordially invite all interested Colorado and Wyoming high school sophomores and juniors (including 2016/17 freshman and 2016/17 juniors) to apply to attend one of two Teen Academies, which will be held June 13, 2017 and August 1, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the FBI Denver Field Office.

The FBI Teen Academy provides an opportunity for high school students to visit our field office and catch a glimpse behind the scenes of the FBI. Upon completion of Teen Academy, high school students will foster a greater understanding of the FBI’s mission and how we serve our citizens, community, and nation. During the academy, students will be afforded an opportunity to learn about how evidence and hazardous material are collected at crime scenes; discover how FBI SWAT executes arrests; tour the gun vault; learn about bomb threats and cases, the undercover program, and Hostage Crisis Negotiation Team; and meet FBI agents, victim specialists, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, linguists, and others.

Due to the vast diversity in our workforce, any student with an interest in the FBI, what we do, and how a relationship with the FBI can help their school is encouraged to apply. The program is not exclusive to students interested in criminal justice. All students will be evaluated based on their application (school activities and community involvement) and an essay to determine which students will be offered a seat in the class. None of the above elements will be the sole basis of evaluation of an application, and the application process should be taken seriously by all applicants. Each class size is limited to 50 students. The application, release form, and a supporting essay must be received by the FBI Denver Field Office by 4 p.m. on April 15, 2017. Incomplete and late applications will not be accepted.

FBI Denver Division
Attn: PAS Amy Sanders
8000 East 36th Avenue
Denver, CO 80238

Questions regarding the FBI Teen Academy or the application process can be directed to Public Affairs Specialist SA Amy Sanders at Amy.Sanders@ic.fbi.gov.

Denver Teen Academy students
Denver Teen Academy students

FBI Testimony: HPSCI Hearing Titled Russian Active Measures Investigation

Federal Bureau of Investigation

James B. Comey
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Statement Before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI)
Washington, D.C.
March 20, 2017

HPSCI Hearing Titled Russian Active Measures Investigation

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Schiff, members of the committee, thank you for including me in today’s hearing. I’m honored to be here representing the people of the FBI.

I hope we have shown you through our actions and our words how much we at the FBI value your oversight of our work and how much we respect your responsibility to investigate those things that are important to the American people. Thank you for showing that both are being taken very seriously.

As you know, our practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations, especially those investigations that involve classified matters, but in unusual circumstances where it is in the public interest, it may be appropriate to do so as Justice Department policies recognize. This is one of those circumstances.

I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

Because it is an open, ongoing investigation and is classified, I cannot say more about what we are doing and whose conduct we are examining. At the request of congressional leaders, we have taken the extraordinary step in coordination with the Department of Justice of briefing this Congress’ leaders, including the leaders of this committee, in a classified setting in detail about the investigation, but I can’t go into those details here.

I know that is extremely frustrating to some folks. But it is the way it has to be for reasons that I hope you and the American people can understand. The FBI is very careful in how we handle information about our cases and about the people we are investigating. We are also very careful about the way we handle information that may be of interest to our foreign adversaries. Both of those interests are at issue in a counterintelligence investigation. Please don’t draw any conclusions from the fact that I may not be able to comment on certain topics. I know speculating is part of human nature, but it really isn’t fair to draw conclusions simply because I say that I can’t comment.

Some folks may want to make comparisons to past instances where the Department of Justice and the FBI have spoken about the details of some investigations, but please keep in mind that those involved the details of completed investigations. Our ability to share details with the Congress and the American people is limited when those investigations are still open, which I hope makes sense. We need to protect people’s privacy. We need to make sure we don’t give other people clues as to where we’re going. We need to make sure that we don’t give information to our foreign adversaries about what we know or don’t know. We just cannot do our work well or fairly if we start talking about it while we’re doing it. So we will try very, very hard to avoid that, as we always do.

This work is very complex and there is no way for me to give you a timetable as to when it will be done. We approach this work in an open-minded, independent way and our expert investigators will conclude that work as quickly as they can, but they will always do it well no matter how long that takes. I can promise you, we will follow the facts wherever they lead. And I want to underscore something my friend Mike Rogers said—leaks of classified information are serious, serious federal crimes for a reason. They should be investigated and, where possible, prosecuted in a way that reflects that seriousness so that people understand it simply cannot be tolerated.

And I look forward to taking your questions.

FBI:Craigslist Robbers California-Based Thieves Targeted Big-Money Items and Sellers

Classified Advertisements Website (Stock Image)

For the high-end jewelry sellers on the popular online classifieds site Craigslist, it must have seemed like their ship had come in: A prospective buyer in California offered not only their asking price but would fly them into town and have a limo waiting.

“The individual would think they were going to the jewelry store to meet with the actual buyer,” said Special Agent Darin Heideman, who works out of the Oakland Resident Agency of the FBI’s San Francisco Division, “when in fact, a co-conspirator would take them to a predetermined location, assault them, and then basically rob them of all their items.”

The crew of robbers, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is estimated to have stolen more than $500,000 in jewelry from victims who traveled from more than six states between November 2012 and December 2013. Five men were charged in 2014 in connection with the violent robberies during which, among other items, a $90,000 Cartier watch, a $14,000 Rolex watch, and a $19,000 engagement ring were stolen. The last member of the crew to be sentenced, Michael Anthony Martin, 42, of Tracy, California, was handed a term last December of 30 years in prison.

The case illustrates how the FBI and police work together on cases that may at first appear to be local or isolated, but on closer investigation can span multiple jurisdictions. In this case, a Bay Area detective’s efforts to solve a “snatch-and-grab” robbery at a Fremont, California coffee shop ultimately led him to more than 20 similar robberies of victims from as far away as Wisconsin and Florida. Fremont Police Department Det. Michael Gebhardt’s legwork also uncovered the scheme’s mastermind: a prison inmate who personally called Craigslist targets—purporting to be a successful record producer—and assigned his co-conspirators to carry out the plans.

“It’s definitely a tale of something that started small and just mushroomed into this massive investigation,” said Gebhardt.

It all started in 2012 with the brazen robbery of a Bay Area man who was selling his watch. The seller and the purported buyer, both local, arranged to meet in Fremont in a public place—a coffee shop. “As they are talking, the potential buyer just grabs the Rolex and takes off running,” Gebhardt said.

“It’s definitely a tale of something that started small and just mushroomed into this massive investigation.”

Det. Michael Gebhard, Fremont (California) Police Department

Video surveillance and the so-called buyer’s cell phone number turned up an identity that police were able to link to two more robberies in Bay Area cities. In each case, the victims were selling Rolex watches and the prospective buyers grabbed the goods and ran. “The M.O. [modus operandi] is the same,” Gebhardt recalled thinking. “He’s targeting people on Craigslist for Rolexes.”

Two months later, the detective received word that police in Oakland were investigating five similar robberies, including one they witnessed firsthand during a separate investigation. Oakland police officers arrested three men, who it turned out were associates of the watch thief Gebhardt was investigating for the 2012 coffee shop heist. With some digging, Gebhardt learned his subject was taking directions from his father, an inmate at the California Men’s Colony state prison. The father was using a number of relatives, including his son and a cousin in Texas, to lure prospective Craigslist sellers with flights and limos and then have co-conspirators rob them once they were captive.

The ring depicted in this image on a mobile is believed to have been stolen by robbers who used Craigslist to find victims.

This ring, shown in an image on a mobile phone belonging to a member of the robbery crew, is believed to be one of the stolen items in the Craigslist robberies.

For the sellers, it might have seemed a safe bet when prospective buyers offered plane tickets and limos. “That’s exactly what they want,” said FBI Special Agent Paul Healy, who also worked the case out of Oakland. “They’re being told everything’s being taken care of.”

Heideman said it was a relatively small investment for the robbers. “You have to think—what does a plane ticket cost? Probably $400 to $500. A limo is going to cost a couple hundred bucks,” he said. “If you’re traveling with a $30,000 diamond, that’s just a drop in the bucket to what they are going to steal. They were able to build these personas and build trust where there should not have been trust.”

Gebhardt learned of a Wisconsin woman who flew to St. Louis to sell the $19,000 diamond ring she had listed on Craigslist but ended up getting robbed instead. When Gebhardt saw a picture of the suspect, he recognized it was the same guy he’d been trying to run down—the son of the prison inmate. Still other cases—from Florida, Oregon, and Colorado—started to point back to the same prime suspects and associates.

“So we needed one big agency to basically be able to charge this thing,” Gebhardt said. The detective called the FBI, and agents from the Oakland Resident Agency helped set up a sting. They posted an ad on Craigslist hoping to attract the attention of the robbery crew’s leader in prison. And it worked.

“He calls me from prison and we set up a deal to sell my Rolex to him,” Gebhart said. “I would be flying in from Texas to the Oakland airport. He would have a driver pick me up.”

As that plan was coming to fruition, the FBI discovered that another Craigslist seller from Los Angeles was to arrive—with his Rolex—in Oakland on the same day.

“Obviously we couldn’t let him get robbed, but we also didn’t want to tip him off because we didn’t want him to call the guy that was going to rob him,” said Heideman. So the investigators posed as Craigslist buyers, contacted the seller in L.A., and outbid the robbery crew. They met him in a bank parking lot in Oakland. “We basically pulled him aside and said, ‘Here’s what you were about to walk into,’” Gebhardt said. “He was obviously relieved.”

“They were able to build these personas and build trust where there should not have been trust.”

Special Agent Darin Heideman, FBI Oakland Resident Agency

Meanwhile, on the same day of the sting in Oakland—December 16, 2013—two other simultaneous operations took down the robbery crew’s mastermind in prison and arrested his son, who was in hiding in Alabama.

The arrests led to federal indictments in 2014 against five defendants who have since received sentences ranging from 41 months to 30 years. The father, who cooperated with investigators, was given an addition seven years in prison for his role.

Looking back, the robbery crew was so prolific and violent they had no choice but to expand beyond their local area, agents said. Even limo drivers stopped working with them. “They would literally wear out a jurisdiction,” said Healy. “So they would go 40 miles away—or 400 miles away—to another town to do it.”

Tips for Staying Safe

The Craigslist website offers tips on personal safety when meeting someone for the first time. The site states, “With billions of human interactions, the incidence of violent crime related to craigslist is extremely low.”

Among the personal safety tips:

  • Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe, bank, or shopping center.
  • Do not meet in a secluded place or invite strangers into your home.
  • Be especially careful buying/selling high-value items.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going.
  • Take your cell phone along if you have one.
  • Consider having a friend accompany you.
  • Trust your instincts.

Meanwhile, some jurisdictions have moved to create “Safe Lots” for exchanging items from online classifieds. Det. Gebhardt says his department suggests on social media that if people are going to meet, they should meet in their local police department’s parking lot.

“If somebody says, ‘I don’t want to meet there,’ then that’s probably a red flag about the person you’re meeting,” he said.

Five South Florida Law Enforcement Officers Graduate FBI National Academy

MIAMI—George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Miami Division, announces the graduation of five South Florida law enforcement officers from the FBI National Academy Friday, March 17, at a ceremony held in Quantico, Virginia.

The officers are:

  • Captain Brian Bergen, Martin County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Captain Karyn Brinson, Aventura Police Department;
  • Major Alfredo Escanio, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission;
  • Major Richard Rand, North Miami Beach Police Department;
  • Captain Jose Sanchez, Miramar Police Department.

As FBI National Academy graduates, these officers enter into a select group made up of less than one percent of the country’s law enforcement officers.  They were hand-picked by their departments and, along with about 250 other officers, completed the 10-week course, which began on January 9, 2017, at the FBI training facility in Quantico, Virginia.  The course included instruction in law, behavioral science, forensic science, understanding terrorism/terrorist mindsets, leadership development, communication, and health/fitness.

The FBI National Academy is dedicated to the improvement of law enforcement standards and has long been a benchmark for professional continuing education.  Participants are drawn from every state in the union, from U.S. territories, and from over 150 partner nations.  Police officers who attend the Academy return to their communities better prepared to meet criminal challenges.

The overall goal of the Academy is to support, promote, and enhance the personal and professional development of law enforcement leaders by preparing them for complex, dynamic, and contemporary challenges through innovative techniques, facilitating excellence in education and research, and forging partnerships throughout the world.

The academy was created in 1935 with 23 students in the first class. It has grown over the years to the current enrollment of over 1,000 students a year.  The FBI National Academy is one of the premier law enforcement academies in the world.

Source: FBI


Breaking News: FBI-WANTED

Be on the lookout for MARIO L. LAMBERT, who has pending charges in multiple jurisdictions. Locally, LAMBERT has been charged in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, with a Hobbs Act violation related to the armed robbery of Cellular Sales, 4501 Chapman Highway, Knoxville, Tennessee, that occurred on November 22, 2016. He has also been charged with Brandishing a Firearm during a Crime of Violence in conjunction with that robbery.

On January 12, 2017, LAMBERT was charged with the same two offenses, Hobbs Act Robbery and Brandishing a Firearm During a Crime of Violence, in the United States District Court, District of Kansas.

LAMBERT was last seen in Rockford, Illinois on March 2, 2017. He is also known to have traveled to Chicago, Illinois; Beloit, Wisconsin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Atlanta, Georgia; and Houston, Texas. He was last seen driving a 2002 tan Chevy Tahoe, with Illinois license plate ZZ37991.

LAMBERT is more fully described as follows:

  • Race: Black
  • Sex: Male
  • Nickname: Pop-Up
  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 220 pounds
  • Hair: Black
  • Eyes: Brown
  • Tattoos: “LAMBERT” on his Back; Chinese letters on chest

A WANTED poster is available on the FBI website at https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/additional/mario-lee-lambert

A reward of up to $20,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest of MARIO L. LAMBERT.

Anyone who has information on the whereabouts of MARIO L. LAMBERT should call the nearest law enforcement agency, or the Knoxville FBI office at 865-544-0751, or the Chicago FBI office at 312-421-6700. Members of the public and law enforcement officers should use caution if LAMBERT is encountered, as he is considered to be ARMED AND DANGEROUS.

All defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Wanted for Armed Robbery, Lambert.
Lambert, Wanted for Armed Robbery.
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