by CYNTHIA KMETT
Detroit is the 10th largest FBI field office of 56 in the country, and it’s been a busy year, David Gelios, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Detroit, reported at last Wednesday’s Troy Rotary Club meeting at the Bank of America Building. The Ohio native was scheduled to speak earlier, but had to cancel when he was needed at the Flint Airport, which he said was a definite terrorist attack.
In fact, terrorism is one of the things high on the list of concerns for the local FBI. Gelios noted that since things haven’t been going as well for ISIS in the Middle East, they are encouraging their supporters to go home and attack there, making the FBI’s concern “homegrown lone wolf terrorists” and a high priority. Gelios observed that it’s estimated 43,000 people have travelled to Syria to support ISIS, 7,100 of them from Europe, but only 250 of them from the U.S.
But preventing terrorism isn’t the FBI’s only job. There’s a lot of crime to consider. They have 11 resident agencies in Michigan, some with special priorities like white-collar crime, and the bureau has 60 offices around the world with legal attachees. The FBI’s job is to keep the public and civic community safe.
Despite what some people today think of law enforcement in this country, Gelios says he is happy to say the FBI does not believe “The ends do not justify the means,” and he would rather find someone innocent instead of guilty. My hats off to uniformed officers; their lives are in danger.” He observed that 11 Detroit police officers have been shot in the past year.
“It’s a very, very dangerous climate out there for people who have pledged to protect,” Gelios observed.
But after shooting, it’s not uncommon for just the actual video of the final shooting to be played and that makes others protest. So, the FBI will bring in those leading the protests and give them a shot (literally) at the training session of whether to shoot or not shoot, often with very interesting results. Sometimes you can kill an innocent person, and sometimes in that scenario you end up dead.
FBI offices across the county this year have been very active in healthcare fraud, which Gelios noted was “occurring almost everywhere.” There have been 14 search warrants this year for opioid-related cases, with 16 medical professionals arrested by the Detroit FBI. Then there’s insurance billing fraud, where the FBI has had 30 new cases this year, with 41 arrests, many of them doctors. The FBI has recovered $83 million in those cases.
Another high priority today, Gelios continued, is ‘crimes against children and human trafficking.” Violent crimes against children can be found just by checking ads for services offered. In 300 advertisements in Detroit for sexual services, 10 percent of them are offering minors. The FBI has recovered 168 minors, and Gelios noted that there has been a 178 percent increase in this crime in just the past two years.
And, don’t forget public corruption. It didn’t end with Detroit. The FBI is instrumental in the corruption cases in Macomb County, where over a dozen people are being looked at for bribery.
What does Gelios see as worrisome for the future in our country, besides terrorism? “Stealing our technology,” he said. Other counties, like China, are sending students here to our universities and then taking our STEM knowledge back to be used against us in the world markets. “The cyber world is recruiting from the STEM world,” he warned.