MIRAMAR, FLA. (WSVN) - An FBI special agent who was involved in some of South Florida’s highest profile cases, as well as a major international case, is calling it a career and said he is looking forward to his next chapter as a martial arts pro.
George Piro’s career on Thursday opened up to 7News about an eventful career that started in a small town in northern California, with a stop in Baghdad and an interrogation of Saddam Hussein.
Piro said becoming the head of the FBI’s Miami field office was always a goal.
“That was a dream come true. My best day was when I was selected to be head of the office,” he said.
After seven years with the office and with a one-year break, Piro’s FBI career is behind him as of Thursday, but he said he’s had some very good days as an agent.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, and naturalized as a U.S. citizen at age 17, the Air Force veteran and former local police detective spent months gaining the trust of captured Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and in his native Arabic, finally coaxed an admission that weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed.
“The idea was to allow him to come to the conclusion that I was a very powerful very high-ranking member of the government,” said Piro.
In reality he wasn’t. He had less than five years on the job at the time, but he faked it.
“For example, when I walked into the detention area, where Saddam was being held, the MPs cleared the path, they showed a lot of deference to me. If I said something they would run,” said Piro.
It worked, and he got the information he needed.
But with the good days, of course, come the bad days.
“My worst day was on Feb. 2 at 6:18 a.m, when my phone rang that day,” said Piro. “The FBI had lost two incredible special agents, Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger.”
“I realized that the office, the employees and the organization were going to be looking at me, and they were going to be drawing strength from my leadership,” said Piro, “so it’s imperative that I met all of their expectations.”
“And I gave the police everything that I know,” said a self proclaimed witch doctor on video.
The bureau also investigated a self proclaimed witch doctor, an accused would be mail bomber, and because the office handles crimes in the Caribbean, the assassination of the Haitian president and the kidnapping of 17 missionaries also in Haiti.
However, the FBI as an organization has not been without criticism in recent years. A tip about Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz to the FBI never made it to the Miami field office.
“Now we continue to strive for that excellence and to be perfect, but it’s unrealistic that the FBI can and will always be perfect,” said Piro. “However, the FBI is very committed at learning from these events and these incidents, and even our mistakes at making sure that we don’t repeat them.”
Now he’s got a new passion, in hopes of becoming a pro Brazilian ju-jitsu fighter. He said the techniques that teach self-defense and defending others are not very far from the mission of the career he’s leaving behind.
“The one agency that our country has leaned through its challenges, and through some of the issues that our country has faced, has always on has been the FBI,” said Piro.
Piro has won numerous awards, including the FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement. He won it for saving a life, and he has been nominated once again because he saved another life.
He is scheduled to start training as a Brazilian ju-jitsu fighter next week and has a fight coming later this year in Las Vegas.
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