CALEXICO, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced today that David Salazar, a career federal law enforcement officer with more than 20 years’ experience involving international travelers and trade along the California-Mexico border, has been formally selected as the Area Port Director for the Calexico ports of entry.
Salazar, 47, succeeds long time Port Director Billy Whitford, who retired in January after more than 40 years of federal service.
"I'm pleased to announce the selection of David Salazar to the position of Area Port Director for the Calexico ports of entry," said Pete Flores, Director of Field Operations for San Diego and Imperial Counties. "David has taken on several challenges throughout his career and has risen through the ranks, so I am confident he will provide outstanding leadership in this critical position."
As the Area Port Director for the Calexico ports of entry, Salazar will provide directorial oversight for all passenger, air, rail and cargo inspectional operations at one of the busiest border crossings in the United States.
While mindful of the agency's critical border security mission, Salazar said he will continue to stay focused on operations that have proven successful for CBP, such as interdicting narcotic threats, apprehending criminals, intercepting pests, plant and animal diseases harmful to domestic agriculture, and enforcing import and export trade laws, while striking a balance between enforcement and the facilitation of legitimate trade and travelers.
“I am truly humbled by this immense and important responsibility and look forward to the challenge of overseeing CBP operations at the Calexico ports of entry,” Salazar said. “Having served at this port of entry for 11 years, I understand the importance of what our agency does in terms of protecting our borders, the potential impact our operations have on local communities, and I recognize there is a careful balance that we must keep to ensure our primary mission remains our highest priority.”
The two Calexico passenger ports are responsible for processing an average of more than 22,000 vehicles, 13,000 pedestrians, over 6,000 SENTRI participants and successfully interdict narcotics, illegal entries, prohibited agriculture products and wanted felons each day. The Calexico commercial port of entry facilitates the processing of about 1,000 cargo containers and $26 million worth of imported merchandise on an average day.
David Salazar entered on duty with the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1995 as an Immigration Inspector at the San Ysidro port of entry. He became a supervisor in 1999 before progressing to upper-management in 2004.
In 2005, he accepted the position of Assistant Port Director with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Calexico ports of entry, where he initially managed passenger processing operations, and later transitioned to the role of Assistant Port Director, Tactical Operations, a position he held for 11 years.
Salazar was raised in El Centro and served in the U.S. Air Force before beginning his career in federal law enforcement. He obtained his associates degree at Imperial Valley College and two bachelor’s degrees at San Diego State University. His graduate studies include the completion of a USDA Graduate Program, the Executive Leadership Program for Mid-Level Employees in Washington, DC, and completion of a Leadership Development Program at the University of Connecticut’s Center for Continuing Studies.
He currently resides in El Centro with his wife and two sons, with a third son enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.