EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – In our last Borderland Spotlight, KTSM 9 News Anchor Brenda Medina highlighted Chief Patrol Agent, Gloria Chavez. She is the first female chief of the El Paso Border Patrol sector and the only female Hispanic chief patrol agent in the entire nation.
In part two of our exclusive interview with Chief Chavez we take you out to the field for one of her last tours of our border before she moves on to her next assignment in south Texas.
“I think the sector has a lot to be proud about because we’ve lived through so much,” Chavez mentioned as she walked along the Rio Grande. “Because it was one or the second station built nationwide in the Border Patrol. So, for us, it’s a huge proud moment to know this is where it all started.”
Agents here patrol 264 miles of border across 11 stations, from west Texas to New Mexico.
Chief Chavez highlights some of the key issues we’re facing. “Our El Paso, New Mexico region is currently being exploited. It’s being exploited by transnational criminal organizations,” she added. “One of the biggest issues is the recruitment of U.S. citizen juveniles. These are kids that live here in El Paso… they’re picking up loads of people at the border and then they are smuggling them.”
She told KTSM that majority of these juveniles are recruited through TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.
“Here in the El Paso sector we have prosecuted 539 people for human smuggling just this fiscal year.” With the number of stash houses at over 200 all throughout the Borderland. “I mean, this is something that we have not seen in the past.”
Our ride took us past the Chihuahuita neighborhood and alongside the original division between the U.S. and Mexico. The Rio Grande at times bone dry, and other times a silent, fast flowing river, one that’s claimed many lives. “We’ve had 62 deaths tragically already to date,” explained Chavez.”
Chavez attributed many of those deaths to ruthless human smugglers. “It’s sad because these are human beings that they either put all their faith in the smuggler or just decide to walk across the border unprepared. Not knowing the conditions that they are going to face in the desert environment or in the water and they succumb to their injuries.”
Those who survive the treacherous crossing are met by an increasingly frustrated Border Patrol force. The Border Patrol central processing center bursting at the seams right now with continuous crossings of undocumented migrants. That number recently topping 1,100 a day.
“Chief how do you deal with the perceived discontent of the agents out in the field when they feel that their hands are tied behind their back because of what’s currently going on right now,” asked Medina. “That’s a great question. I do my very best to be behind the scenes by motivating them to stay focused on the mission. I know we’ve gone through some changes. I’ve been with this organization 27 years. I worked for 5 different administrations with very different goals, very different policies.”
As Chief Chavez departs, her place in Border Patrol history is secure. Her photo soon going up alongside the other chief patrol agents as the very first female chief to lead the El Paso sector, but she adds that impact is secondary to what she’s received from the men and women she leads. “A lot of people say, ‘hey the inspiration doesn’t go from here there.’ No, the inspiration comes from them to me because I know the value that they bring to the agency. I know what they do for El Paso and every day I’m striving to find a way to give them what they need. The resources, the technology so that they can get the job done.”
Chief Chavez grew up in Brownsville, Texas and although she is happy to be headed back home after 27 years. She tells KTSM this move is most definitely bittersweet.
Her last day leading the BP El Paso sector is October 9th.