A decade ago, Hector Pesquera was rumored to be a top candidate for Miami Police chief. Instead, the former FBI man -- perhaps dogged by questionable ties to convicted felons -- embarked on ever more obscure positions: first as head of the Broward Sheriff's Office, lately as head of security for the Port of Miami.
Now, seemingly out of nowhere, however, Pesquera has been handed a doozie of an assignment. According to officials at the Port of Miami, he is taking a year leave to become the chief of police of his native Puerto Rico. Instead of a couple dozen county cops, Pesquera will now be in charge of 17,000 police trying to contain an entire commonwealth's violent crime wave.
"Miami-Dade County agreed with the Government of Puerto Rico to send one of our most valuable resources, Mr. Hector M. Pesquera," confirmed the Puerto Rican government in a statement. "He will be detailed in Puerto Rico advising the Governor in Public Safety matters."
It's a strange arrangement. Miami-Dade officials say Pesquera will retain his position at the port but that his salary will be paid by the Puerto Rican government. He officially goes on leave on Monday, according to a port spokesman.
Pesquera inherits a Puerto Rican police force besieged by corruption and violent crime. A Justice Department report released last September blasted PRPD for violating civilians' rights by using excessive force and unwarranted searches. In October 2010, 61 island cops were arrested as part of the largest police corruption investigation in FBI history.
Not that Pesquera's own record is spotless. Back in 2003, New Times reported that the then-FBI agent had developed a troubling friendship with pre-Castro policeman and convicted felon Camilo Padreda. In fact, the DOJ investigated Pesquera over claims that he allowed Padreda to view sensitive FBI documents.
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From our 2003 article:
A police officer, who asked not to be identified, was having a café and pastelito at the Gran Paris Bakery in a strip mall on NW Seventh Street and 30th Avenue in late August 2001. While there he saw the FBI chief and Padreda enter the Miami Gold Joyería pawnshop next door. When the officer, who knows both men, finished his snack and left the bakery, he bumped into them as they were exiting the pawnshop. "Hector came out looking at a gold Rolex watch," the officer recalls, "and he tells Camilo: 'Thanks for taking care of this for me.'" My source shrugs. "Hector knows that everybody knows who this guy is, yet he hangs around with him anyway. He has no qualms about it. It's amazing."
Pesquera did not respond to a request for comment. An automated email reply, however, states simply: "I will be in an extended temporary duty assignment effective April 2, 2012. In my absence Cristina Calderon will be the acting Assistant Director for the Safety and Security Division."