FBI Linguists: Why My Work Matters

FBI Linguists discuss cases they've worked on throughout their careers.


Video Transcript

Spanish Linguist, North Central Region: Having been an elementary school teacher in the inner city, in one of the rough parts of Chicago, I saw the challenges that my students were faced with. I lived them as a teacher as well in a neighborhood where you're divided in the border between two different gang rivals. As a teacher, I was giving the students the skills or the tools they needed to be successful students later in life. Now in the capacity as an FBI linguist, I'm using those skills to put some of those individuals that have been or our a challenge for our children that are in those inner city schools and that they're faced with these challenges in putting those people away. Being part of a team, or working with this squad of agents that deal with criminal investigations to make the streets safer, so that our kids are able to go to school day in day out.

Russian Linguist: It was a criminal case, where I really felt we are making the difference. It was about a person, a very bad guy, a criminal. He was adopting girls in Ukraine, he was bringing them here to American soil, and he was sexually abusing them. We, the FBI, got him. We made a huge difference in the life of those girls.

Spanish Linguist, Southwest Region: We had a Native American body float into Mexico. And so I remember this happened over a weekend. On Monday morning, the agent, he came and asked me, "I looked everywhere but I don't speak the language. I know there is something in the media down in Mexico. Can you help me find this?" And so of course within a couple of minutes I had found what he was looking for, and he had determined, "Yes. This is my body. This is my missing person." And so we got on the phone with officials down in Mexico, and we are talking about—well they had to do an autopsy. This Native American—the family had rituals that they wanted to do with the body. So we had to cater to —of course—comply with Mexican law and help the family get what they wanted. Being able to talk to them directly and being able to talk to Mexican officials directly, and working with the local Indian country tribal police, making sure that everybody's needs were met, as far as the investigation went, but also catering to the family, that made a difference. I was happy to hear from the agent, "We don't have to do an autopsy here in America again, because your translation of the autopsy done in Mexico was enough." So, that, that made me feel good.

Korean Linguist: There was one case in the west coast. We had brought in about 150 people, including potential victims. And one woman, really—I still remember her, and she was working as a prostitute in the west coast, and she had nowhere to turn. She didn't speak the language. She didn't think she could go to the police for help, for obvious reasons. And when we went to arrest her and brought her to the interview room, she—the first thing she said was, "I am so happy you came to get me. Please send me home." And she had this horrendous story that I still remember, and that's when I thought that my contributions…helped bring decent life to another human being.

Voice Over: Visit fbijobs.gov/linguists to learn more or apply, and start your adventure as an FBI Linguist today.

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