NEW ORLEANS – For the first time in 10 years, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operations in the Gulf region has autonomous leadership, as CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske swore in Steven Stavinoha as Director of the New Orleans Field Office during a ceremony at the historic U.S. Custom House on Thursday, January 14.
CBP operations here had been a subordinate unit reporting to the Atlanta Field Office. Now New Orleans reports directly to CBP Field Operations headquarters in Washington, D.C. The New Orleans Field Office leads operations in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
During the time-honored Change-of-Command ceremony, Kerlikowske pinned the Director’s badge on Stavinoha, and CBP officers presented Stavinoha with a guide-on, a traditional symbol of command.
“I am humbled and honored to continue my service to CBP and to our country by directing the ports of entry in these five states,” said Stavinoha. “It’s exciting for me to join a team of hundreds of dedicated men and woman who give their best every day to ensure the safety of our community and the security of this great nation of ours.”
Stavinoha previously served at CBP Headquarters as the Director of the National Targeting Center - Cargo Division. Under his leadership, CBP identified high-risk, international cargo shipments that posed a potential threat to the internal security of the United States, and then worked with local ports around the country to conduct comprehensive examinations of the cargo and conveyance.
CBP temporarily transferred authority to a director from outside the area in order to re-establish local business operations immediately following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Today we celebrate the re-establishment of New Orleans as a senior leadership Field Office, a clear recognition of the important role that New Orleans plays in protecting our national security and in securing our economic prosperity,” said CBP Assistant Commissioner Todd C. Owen.
The New Orleans Field Office is staffed by nearly 400 employees responsible for all aspects of CBP inspectional authority, including the enforcement of customs, immigration, and agriculture laws at air and sea ports of entry. The Field Office includes the busy Area Port of Memphis FedEx facility in Tennessee and the Area Port of Mobil, Ala., with its continued expected growth coming from the large automotive industry.
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.