On October 1, 2011, the Marfa Border Patrol Sector was officially renamed the Big Bend Border Patrol Sector, to better reflect the area of responsibility of the Sector. The Big Bend Sector is strategically located across the northward route of travel from the area of northern Chihuahua and Coahuila, Mexico, inland to the agricultural areas of West Texas. The town of Marfa, Texas, is located on U.S. Highway 67, the principal highway leading from the Class A Port of Entry at Presidio.
Like the area in which it is situated, the Big Bend Sector has grown extensively during its history. Beginning as a loosely organized group of out stations, many with no office and little equipment, it is now a well organized and highly mobile enforcement organization, closely integrated with other sectors throughout the United States.
The Marfa Sector (now known as the Big Bend Border Patrol Sector) was first organized under an Act of Congress approved May 28, 1924. Prior to that time two Mounted Inspectors, called "Mounted Patrol" were serving at Presidio. They were both "blanketed" into the Border Patrol. Those officers, Fletcher D. Rawls and Miles Scannell, were the first Border Patrolmen in the area, entering on duty in 1921-1922. Rawls became Chief Patrol Agent of the McAllen Sector (now the Rio Grande Valley Sector) and Scannell was murdered while apprehending illegal aliens on the Rio Grande at the Polvo Crossing in September 1929.
The original Marfa Sector was composed of stations at Marfa, Alpine, Presidio, Marathon and Sanderson. They all opened in May 1924. Marathon was closed in 1933 and was not reopened. The Pecos Station was opened in 1928; the Lubbock Station in 1931-32; Fort Stockton in 1931; Amarillo Station in February 1969. The Van Horn Station was transferred from El Paso Sector in April 1970; Big Bend National Park Station was opened in February 1987; Midland Station, July 1988 and the Sierra Blanca Station was added in May 1992.
Marfa Sector Headquarters was first quartered in a private residence converted to office space on North Austin Street, in Marfa. When Fort D.A. Russell was deactivated in 1932, headquarters offices were moved to the post hospital. When the fort was reactivated in 1935, Sector was moved to Alpine in a city-owned building that had formerly been a men's dormitory for Sul Ross State College. Following World War II, Fort D.A. Russell was abandoned and Sector returned to Marfa and moved into space previously occupied by non-commissioned officers. These facilities were converted to accommodate Sector offices and Marfa Station. Continued growth of the Sector made it necessary to build a totally new facility on the same property which was completed and occupied in December, 1977. Marfa Border Patrol Station was co-located with Sector until May 1991, when it was moved to a separate building on Highway 67.
Originally Border Patrol Sectors functioned under District Directors of various districts. Each Sector Chief enjoyed wide latitude in executing directives laid down for the district to which his Sector was assigned. Each Sector, indeed, each Border Patrol Station, was to a large extent, a separate entity. Eventually a need for greater standardization and unification to establish effective control on a border-wide basis was recognized.
Marfa Sector Border Patrol was under the jurisdiction of the El Paso District #15 from 1924 until it was assigned to the Southwest Region in 1934. In 1976, it became a part of the Southern Region. Also, by 1970, the privilege of collective bargaining was extended to all branches of the service and the American Federation of Government Employees Lodge No. 2509 was chartered at Marfa.
The Big Bend Sector has demonstrated its flexibility through the years. Stations opened and closed to meet the changing operational situations. Transportation and communication facilities have been updated for greater efficiency. Housing for employees has been constructed in Presidio. Since 2002, new station facilities have been built in Alpine, Sierra Blanca, Amarillo, Sanderson and Van Horn.
As the population grew within the surrounding communities and became more mobile, both roving and fixed traffic checkpoints were established within the Sector. Alpine, Marfa and Sierra Blanca all have fixed checkpoints. These stations man checkpoints on major highway arteries leading away from the immediate border. These checkpoints not only encounter alien smugglers but narcotic smugglers as well.
On March 1, 2003, the Border Patrol became a part of the newly formed Department of Homeland Security. While we have retained our legacy missions of stopping people entering the country illegally and stopping the illegal importation of drugs and other contraband, our top priority has become protecting America from terrorists and their weapons.
Area of Responsibility
The Big Bend Sector is composed of 77 Texas counties and all of the State of Oklahoma (78 counties). The operational area is 165,154 square miles. The Sector is responsible for patrolling 517 miles of river front along the Rio Grande River which is the international boundary between the United States and Mexico. The Sector's border boundary is almost one-quarter of the country's Southwest Border.