Thursday, January 7, 2016
AZMEX UPDATE 7-1-16
AZMEX UPDATE 7 JAN 2016
U.S. Border Patrol hires new Rio Grande Valley sector chief
Newly appointed Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Border Sector Chief Manuel Padilla Jr. talks with local media members Tuesday January 5, 2016 at the sector headquarters in Edinburg. photo by Nathan Lambrechtfirstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 6:44 pm | Updated: 7:00 pm, Tue Jan 5, 2016.
KRISTIAN HERNANDEZ | STAFF WRITER
EDINBURG -- The Rio Grande Valley has become the busiest sector for illegal border crossings in the United States in the past two years, surpassing Tucson, Arizona, where Manuel "Manny" Padilla Jr. previously served as chief. Tucson had led since 1998.
This week, Padilla took over as Border Patrol sector chief of the Rio Grande Valley, where he plans to implement new tactics to help build on the infrastructure and partnerships needed to keep up with the never ending cat-and-mouse game that is border security.
"The criminal element adapts quite quickly to whatever you do, so it's critical for us never to remain stable and be actively looking at the criminal organizations' changing patterns in order to adapt," Padilla said.
Padilla hosted a meet and greet with members of the local media Tuesday morning inside sector headquarters in Edinburg, where he detailed his lessons learned in Arizona and how he plans to address the unique challenges that agents face in the Rio Grande Valley.
"I like to think that what I can bring to the table is leveraging our partners," Padilla said. "I always say that border security is a team sport, and that team is comprised of federal, local and state agencies as well as the communities that we serve."
Padilla is replacing former Chief Kevin Oaks, who spent 14 months in the position and led the more than 3,000 agents in the Rio Grande Sector during the peak of Central American family units and unaccompanied minors illegally crossing into the United States in the summer of 2014.
A U.S. Army veteran and native of southern Arizona, Padilla has been a part of the Border Patrol for more than 29 years. In nearly three decades he has worked his way up from field agent to special forces and to multiple leadership positions, including deputy chief patrol agent and most recently Tucson sector chief the last three years.
In 2013, Padilla replaced Chief Richard A. Barlow and was entrusted with the Tucson sector's more than 4,500 employees and 262 miles of international border. In those two years, he focused on infusing personnel and technology, which resulted in a shift of illegal traffic to Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, Padilla said.
"When you deploy technology, that increases your detection capabilities," Padilla said. "As you increase that technology, your manpower, your agent requirements may lessen. That's what's happening in Arizona."
The Rio Grande Valley sector encompasses more than 34,000 square miles in 34 Texas counties, shares 316 river miles with Mexico, and covers 317 coastal miles. The sector also brings new challenges for Padilla, including the surge of unaccompanied minors and family units that have been coming across the border illegally in unprecedented numbers.