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04/13/2016

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Puerto Rico community leaders graduate from third nationwide HSI-sponsored citizens academy

Puerto Rico community leaders graduate from third nationwide HSI-sponsored citizens academy
Puerto Rico community leaders graduate from third nationwide HSI-sponsored citizens academy

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A group of 14 community leaders graduated Thursday in San Juan from the third U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-sponsored citizens academy. The graduation took place at the HSI San Juan main office in Miramar where the special agent in charge presented a certificate of completion to the 14 graduates in a special ceremony.

The HSI San Juan Citizens Academy is the only HSI-sponsored citizens academy in the nation. In 2014, 10 citizens graduated from the program becoming the first citizens to ever graduate from an HSI citizens academy. This group was followed by the Class of 2015, composed of 13 citizens who graduated in March 2015. On Thursday, April 7, the Class of 2016, composed of 14 men and women from the public and private sectors, received their certificates of completion from a very proud Acting Special Agent in Charge Ricardo Mayoral.

The HSI San Juan Citizens Academy was developed by the 2013 HSI San Juan Aspiring Leaders Mentorship Agreement (ALMA) cohort as their graduation project. The goal of the academy is to provide selected community leaders with a unique opportunity to receive an inside look at HSI's organizational and operational structure while bolstering a relationship that will enhance agency and community relations. The selectees are nominated by HSI San Juan employees and the final selection is made by HSI San Juan special agent in charge.

The 14 community leaders selected to attend the third cohort underwent a 10-week program, meeting once a week for at least two hours, which provided them with a unique opportunity to experience and learn about the agency through a classroom environment and field training exercises. The curriculum provided for hands-on and interactive activities to keep participant engaged and make the experience memorable. It included the HSI San Juan communications center, airport operations, illicit trade, human smuggling and trafficking, gangs, Coast Guard interdiction, transportation of evidence, child exploitation, surveillance, seaport operations, controlled deliveries, financial investigations, pre-trial and judicial proceedings, clearing a room, special response team operations, firearms training and team building. They also had the opportunity to visit the HSI San Juan Computer Forensics Laboratory, the only laboratory of its kind in the Caribbean, and learn how HSI special agents retrieve information and evidence from electronic/digital devices and conduct child exploitation investigations. Participants also spent time at a firing range, honing their marksmanship skills, and learned how HSI special agents conduct a variety of investigations ranging from drug trafficking to human smuggling and trafficking to financial crimes and fraud cases. All that while hitting the books learning firsthand about HSI from some of the agency's special agents and leaders.

The following community leaders compose the third cohort of HSI San Juan Citizens Academy:

  • Aida Nieves-Figueroa
  • Carlos Candelaria-Sanchez
  • Carlos H. Martino
  • Elba Gorbea
  • Francisco J. Diaz-Lozada
  • Jose Diaz-Sanchez
  • Jose E. Pico Del Rosario
  • Juan Agosto-Perez
  • Luis A. Bermudez
  • Luis A. Ocasio-Perez
  • Nuria G. Sebazco
  • Sarai Irizarry
  • Sylvia Martir
  • Wallace R. Ocasio

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/14/2016