San Francisco

‘The feeling that you're doing something good': Agent talks being Latina in the FBI

At the FBI field office in San Francisco, there are fewer than 10 Spanish-speaking special agents.

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Solving cases for the FBI requires a lot of skills, but a special agent in the Bay Area never thought being Latina would be one of them. 

FBI Special Agent Kathia Colon, was born and raised in Puerto Rico and says she never imagined one day she would work for one of the most prominent law enforcement agencies in the world -- and that her culture would play a big part.

At the FBI field office in San Francisco, there are fewer than 10 Spanish-speaking special agents.

Colon first joined the bureau in 2004 as an intelligence analyst and then reassigned to international terrorism.

“I was hired to work Latin America matters initially, but 9/11 happened in 2001 and so they realized they needed more support,” said Colon.

Colon says she has worked alongside special agents for years under this assignment, and many were women.

“They trained me, I learned a little bit about Islam to be familiar with the culture and the religion. Learned a little bit of Arabic,” Colon said.

“I looked at them and I figured, ‘I think I can do this too’, so I applied,” said Colon.

After what she describes as a lengthy process, in 2006, special agent Colon moved to the Bay Area, cracking scams targeting the Latino community.

“Very compelling case, a lot of immigrants that didn’t speak English were victims of these three individuals,” said Colon. “And it was a wonderful experience to be able to use my background and my Spanish language to be able to connect with these victims.”

The special agent said being Latina and bilingual have also played a big role when recruiting informants to solve multiple cases across the Bay Area.

Colon says that even though there have been moments where she has felt vulnerable, there's one thing that keeps her doing her job.

"The feeling that you’re doing something good for the world, that you’re putting bad, violent people behind bars. And you have that purpose of making everything around you safer, helps you get over that anxiety,” said Colon.

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