Just Friends

If a man is known by the company he keeps, then FBI boss Hector Pesquera has a problem

What is it about Padreda that draws veteran lawmen to him like a tabby to catnip? "He brags that he can get people jobs," says the cop who witnessed the pawnshop incident. "I remember him bragging in a restaurant one time that he was trying to get [former U.S. Attorney] Guy Lewis a federal judgeship. People fall for it." Perhaps not coincidentally, Pesquera is rumored to be retiring from the FBI at year's end. Padreda might (or might not) be helpful in hooking up the G-man with a cushy job for his golden years.

In fact Pesquera was mentioned to Miami Mayor Manny Diaz as a candidate for police chief back in 2002. Ironically it was Pesquera's very association with Padreda that led city officials to take a pass. Padreda had alienated Diaz when he told the mayor to back off from criticizing his buddy, police Chief Martinez, or he'd denounce the mayor on Spanish-language radio.

Maurice Ferré recalled that when he was running for mayor in 2001 he met with Chief Martinez; during the meeting "Camilo just walks in. He had Hector Pesquera with him." Later Padreda told Ferré: "You know, Pesquera and I are best friends, and in fact I brought him over to meet the chief." Supposedly Pesquera was there to explore the city's top-cop job.

In 1999 the FBI's Hector Pesquera and Camilo Padreda (inset, right) posed for the in-house magazine of CAMACOL, the Latin chamber of commerce, which honored the FBI for its war on drugs
In 1999 the FBI's Hector Pesquera and Camilo Padreda (inset, right) posed for the in-house magazine of CAMACOL, the Latin chamber of commerce, which honored the FBI for its war on drugs

Padreda's friendship with Chief Martinez gave him unparalleled access inside the Miami Police Department. I've spoken with many cops who saw him freely wandering the halls and entering sensitive areas. So it's legitimate to ask if his friendship with Pesquera gave him similar access to the FBI offices on NW Second Avenue and 163rd Street.

Pesquera has had a successful career fighting crime. A native of Puerto Rico, he joined the FBI in 1976, and after postings in Tampa; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Washington, D.C., ended up becoming the first Puerto Rican to head the FBI office in San Juan. In 1998 he became the first Hispanic to be appointed special agent in charge of the bustling Miami office. He's led investigations into drug smuggling, Cuban spy rings, and public corruption. He should know better than to risk squandering the trust and integrity he's earned over the years.

Ten months ago, when I first faxed questions to his office, Pesquera refused to talk to me. He refused again this month. Apparently he doesn't feel any obligation to explain himself. This happens to veteran managers in the FBI, I'm told. It's an infectious form of arrogance that afflicts top dogs when they lose touch with the people they serve.

It may be easy to brush off a pesky reporter, but that won't be an option when the Department of Justice comes knocking.

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