First Puerto Rican in charge of the HSI in Puerto Rico will seek to strengthen the relationship with local authorities in the fight against crime

First Puerto Rican in charge of the HSI in Puerto Rico will seek to strengthen the relationship with local authorities in the fight against crime

Tackling crimes against minors, money laundering and violent transnational organizations that bring illegal weapons and narcotics to the island will be a priority on the agenda of Rebecca Gonzalez Ramos, the first Puerto Rican to direct the Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

My priorities as special agent in charge are to secure our borders from money laundering, drug and weapons smuggling activities, and to identify and prosecute all those who attempt to exploit our children.“, Gonzalez Ramos said this Wednesday, at a press conference, from the HSI offices in Miramar.

He anticipated that he will try to recruit more women in the federal agency, in line with the goal of the United States Department of Homeland Security of having 30% representation of female agents by 2030.

“This (his position) is the top of the career of federal agents at the government level. 5% of senior executives at the federal level are minorities. Within that 5%, 2% are women”held.

HSI in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands has 110 agents and is recruiting for 266 available positions.

“When I arrived back in Puerto Rico, in 2021, I realized that we were, as an island, trying to impact the amount of weapons that are arriving on the island. We have had a high number of gun confiscations this year, but we are just getting started,” stressed the graduate of the University of South Florida, with a bachelor’s degree in Communications.

Last federal fiscal year, HSI confiscated 173 firearms, and so far this year, 140 have been seized.

“We focus on any (transnational) organization considered a gang, two individuals or more who are conspiring (to) commit a crime of trafficking drugs or humans,” said Gonzalez Ramos, who also completed a Juris Doctor from the Faculty of Law from the Interamerican University, in 2010.

The director of HSI, with more than 20 years of experience in federal agencies, is the wife of the secretary of the Department of Public Safety, Alexis Torreswho accompanied him in the announcement of his confirmation.

“We are a law and order agency. The secretary (Torres) has negotiations under his responsibility, but the person we work with daily is the Police Commissioner.”commented Gonzalez Ramos, trying to dispel the possibility of any conflict between their work.

Prior to occupying this position, Gonzalez Ramos served as interim director of HSI San Juan, since October 2022. In addition, she has collaborated with that federal agency’s Victim-Focused Program, launching the internet safety outreach program I- Guardian and the development of international sextortion investigations at the national level.

Likewise, she highlighted that, in 2011, the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Minors Task Force was established in Puerto Rico, when she served as supervisor of the Child Exploitation Investigations Group on the island. This initiative had the input of local security agencies, the Department of the Family, as well as non-profit entities.

“What we do, today, is work together with sexual crimes agents, we investigate the cases together and determine the crimes that were violated to know where that person is going to be prosecuted. The only way to deal with juvenile crimes on the island is to do so in alliance with state agencies,” he explained.

Regarding incidents of human trafficking, he recognized that the processing of a case entails complications, such as the victims not feeling ready to provide a testimony, which is why they have expanded their vision by addressing these events from a perspective focused on trauma.

“The trafficking cases that we have had, in the past five years, have been due to the commercialization of minors. In the Virgin Islands, we worked on a human trafficking case in which a woman took the documents of some migrant women and had them work in exchange for hosting her and did not pay them anything. They were there under threat,” she said.

In the past five years, more than 100 sexual predators have been arrested, and almost at the end of the federal fiscal year, which ends September 30, 12 arrests have been madeexplained, for her part, the HSI press officer in Puerto Rico, Sandra Colon Perez.

“I will allocate resources and further strengthen our relationships with our federal, state and local counterparts to deter drug trafficking organizations (DTO’s) from using Puerto Rico as a narcotics transshipment point. It is my mission to prevent violent organizations from using our streets to commit senseless murders, putting our community at risk.”Gonzalez Ramos pointed out.

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