1924 - Present - The U.S. Border Patrol at Del Rio, Texas, was established on July 1, 1924 when the agency had two Border Patrolmen. These officers had been employed as mounted inspectors and were transferred into the newly organized Border Patrol agency.
Soon after, additional officers were appointed as Border Patrolmen at Del Rio from a Civil Service register for railway mail clerks. In November 1924, the first Civil Service examination for the position of Border Patrolman in this area was held at Del Rio and other officers were appointed from this examination.
From July 1924 until July 1926, Del Rio officers performed duties under the supervision of the Officer In Charge at Del Rio. On July 1, 1926 the first Chief Patrol Inspector was appointed for the Del Rio Border Patrol Sector and the Border Patrol began functioning administratively under the District Director at San Antonio, Texas.
Shortly thereafter, a Sector Headquarters Office building was rented by the agency on the corner of Main and First Street in Del Rio. This and other rented buildings were utilized until 1946.
Several new 1926 Chevrolet automobiles were purchased by the Government and placed in service. Prior to that time, officers had used their personally owned automobiles in performing their official duties, for which they were paid an additional $75.00 per month.
Officers also furnished their own horses, for which they were paid an extra $25.00 per month. The Government eventually purchased horses for Border Patrol use in this area in 1938 and were used until 1951. The horse patrols returned to operations in the Sector in 2000.
From 1946 to 1964, the Del Rio Sector Headquarters was housed in buildings originally made from a Japanese Internment Camp schoolhouse and barracks. They were transported in sections from Crystal City where they were obtained from the U.S. Government. Ten acres of land were purchased for the building for $15,000 in 1946 and officers stationed in Del Rio at the time assembled the buildings.
In July 1964, the Sector Headquarters staff was moved to a General Service Administration controlled building located on Hudson Drive, now Qualia Drive, in Del Rio. Ground was broken for the current Sector Headquarters at 2401 Dodson Drive in November 1998. It was completed and occupied in spring of 2000.
Since 1924, the Sector has continually made adjustments to handle the illegal immigrant traffic. The Comstock and Eagle Pass stations, which had been opened in 1925, were incorporated into the Del Rio Sector in 1926.
When large areas of Zavala and Dimmit counties were cleared of brush for farming in 1927, a station was opened in Carrizo Springs.
In 1928, a station was added at Junction primarily for checking traffic.
When the railroads began expanding in north central Texas in 1931, a station was placed in Brownwood to check railroad gangs and farm laborers.
In 1937, a station was opened at Langtry to control aircraft entering from Mexico through the area.
In 1938, a station was opened at Dallas to check farm laborers and railroad section hands. The stations at Brownwood, Dallas and Junction were closed after short duration. In 1940, at the start of World War II, stations were opened at Lubbock, Quemado, Ozona, Rocksprings, Uvalde, El Indio, Spofford and San Angelo. After the war, stations at Ozona, El Indio, Rocksprings, and Uvalde were closed.
In 1952, the Spofford Station was moved to Brackettville because of water shortages in Spofford.
In 1954, the Langtry Station was closed and combined with Comstock.
In 1956, the Uvalde Station was reopened to serve as a backup station to the Eagle Pass area.
In 1957, the San Angelo station was moved to Sonora and in 1958, the station at Ozona was re-opened to back-up the Comstock and Del Rio stations.
In 1959, the Quemado Station was closed and combined with the Eagle Pass Station.
The Lubbock Station was transferred to the Marfa Sector in 1961.
In 1985, a new station was opened in Rocksprings.
In 1987, the stations in Sonora and Ozona were closed and the personnel relocated to a new station in San Angelo.
In 1988, two new stations were opened -- Llano, a substation of the Rocksprings Station, and Abilene, a substation of the San Angelo Station.
Area of Operation
As a local office of the U.S. Border Patrol, a division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Del Rio Sector is responsible for detecting and preventing the smuggling and unlawful entry of undocumented aliens into the United States along 245 miles of the Rio Grande River that forms the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Included in this area is Lake Amistad that encompasses a large area that is difficult to patrol.
This area of responsibility covers 53,063 square miles of Texas, and reaches 300 miles into Texas from the U.S.-Mexico border. The 47 counties in the Sector area consist primarily of farms and ranches, and are sparsely populated. This makes the Sector area along the border a major staging area for narcotic and alien smuggling operations.
The U.S. Border Patrol has had a significant presence and a long history in Del Rio. The Border Patrol Agents of the Del Rio Sector provide professional law enforcement that not only affects the quality of life of the residents along the border but the entire nation. The U.S. Border Patrol is a multi-task law enforcement entity that has served the Southwest border and Del Rio since July 1, 1924.
The Sector has been integral part of the Southwest Border Strategy Initiative designed to shut down the traditional corridors that illegal entrants use along the nation's Southwest border. As part of the initiative, Operation Rio Grande is gaining strength as it moves upriver from its starting point in Brownsville, Texas.
The Rio Grande River constitutes the entire southern boundary of the Del Rio Sector. The river can be forded by individuals in many places, but not by vehicles. The river area is varied with rough, rolling terrain covered with mesquite, sagebrush, or cane growing 8-12 feet high. The river area is mostly accessible by vehicles using unpaved trails. Visibility is restricted to less than 50 feet in dense terrain, to several hundred feet in sparse terrain. Adjacent Mexican territory is generally rough, semi-arid rangeland, crosscut by canyons, rocky rolling hills and mountains.
Major highways lead from Mexico's interior, then spread laterally along the Rio Grande River. This provides relatively easy access to cross the Rio Grande River at multiple locations with movement masked by the rough terrain and tall vegetation. Moving northward through the Del Rio Sector, the terrain is more level with grain fields and open pasture. Railroads cross east to west and north to south with one crossing at the border in Eagle Pass, Texas.
The flow of aliens across the Rio Grande River through the Sector to the north and east provides a challenge to the Border Patrol agents assigned to the area. Illegal alien traffic occurs primarily along the river with most, if not all aliens destined for the interior. The absence of man-made barricades to control the points of entry gives illegal entrants, and smugglers of aliens and narcotics the latitude of crossing virtually any place along the 210 miles of border with Mexico.
Few aliens remain in the Sector area. Local farmers and ranchers do not usually hire aliens to fill the relatively few jobs available in the area. Typically, aliens are in transit to San Antonio or Houston, where construction jobs are abundant and transportation can be arranged from those cities to other cities in the United States.