Laredo Director of Field Operations Gene Garza to Retire after 42 Years of Federal Service, Acting DFO to be Named
LAREDO, TEXAS—As his distinguished federal career spanning more than four decades draws to a close, Eugenio Garza Jr., Director, Field Operations, Laredo Field Office, announced that he will retire in January 2014 and an acting DFO will be named.
"I would like to advise the community of my forthcoming retirement and to say it has certainly been a privilege and an honor to work together with the employees of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, our federal, state, local enforcement partners, the international trade community, the Government of Mexico and to proudly serve the South Texas community over the past 42 years," Garza said. "The tremendous growth in personnel, port facilities and trade and travel that we have experienced in South Texas during my tenure has facilitated a strong economy while helping to secure our nation."
Effective January 3, 2014 Garza will retire as DFO and as the date approaches, an acting DFO will be named.DFO Garza will provide transition guidance to the incoming DFO in the weeks prior to his retirement.
As Director, Field Operations for Laredo Field Office, Garza provides oversight and guidance to the operation of eight ports of entry extending from Brownsville to Del Rio. He oversees a complement of more than 2,600 employees and the total value of imports processed through South Texas ports of entry exceeds $134 billion annually. CBP officers in South Texas seized $347 million in narcotics while facilitating the processing of 2.7 million commercial trucks, 18.9 million privately owned vehicles and 50.5 million passengers and pedestrians. Garza was named interim DFO of Laredo Field Office in January 2011 and received his permanent appointment as DFO in March 2011.
Previously, he was the Port Director of the Laredo Port of Entry, first with the U.S. Customs Service; and then with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. As Port Director, Mr. Garza oversaw the largest inland port in the United States, managing over 800 employees, four international bridges, one airport and a railroad bridge, with an annual budget of $12 million and with employees in Laredo, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Roma, Hidalgo/Pharr and Brownsville/Los Indios.
Mr. Garza, a graduate of La Joya High School and a former resident of Sullivan City, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley started his federal career in 1971 with the U.S. Air Force. He served as a Military Policeman where he had his first introduction to the U.S. Customs Service through the Customs Narcotic Detector Dog Training Center at Lackland Air Base in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Garza began his civilian career as a Canine Enforcement Officer (CEO) at the Port of Laredo in 1976. A strong proponent of education, he rose through the ranks of the agency and along the way obtained a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Degree. He has held a number of supervisory positions since his initial appointment as a CEO in Laredo, serving an assignment in the Port of Eagle Pass and at the district office in Laredo as the Canine Enforcement Branch Chief prior to being selected as Port Director. Mr. Garza has also held various management positions at the district and headquarters level, including Acting National Canine Program Director and Canine Enforcement Chief. He has served on various task forces at the Headquarters level, where he has had to deal with broad policy issues while considering operational impact and international implications.
Chief among Mr. Garza's myriad of assignment experiences is the fact that he has a broad understanding of complex management issues. With a bevy of field position assignments to his credit, he has gained keen operational insight and a heightened appreciation for the challenges our ports of entry face daily in maintaining border security. During the course of his career, Mr. Garza has been widely recognized as an expert in international border security management issues. He has extensive experience in border trade and has been recognized by CBP, the trade industry and the Vice-President of the U.S. for both his expertise in each of the mentioned areas and for his accomplishments. Under Mr. Garza's leadership, the Port of Laredo and Laredo Field Office have earned a number of Commissioner Unit Citations for the outstanding performance by the passenger, trade, outbound, and enforcement teams. During his tenure, CBP has undergone significant facilities enhancements, including lane expansions at Lincoln-Juarez Bridge and he oversaw the construction and lane expansion of the World Trade Bridge. These projects significantly facilitated processing of passenger and commercial traffic.
In 2007, Mr. Garza was recognized by Texas A & M International University, his alma mater, and the Smithsonian Institute, as a Distinguished Alumnus in the Smithsonian Institution's Portraits of Latino Achievement. A civic-minded and community-oriented advocate, Mr. Garza is an active participant in numerous civic organizations.
On October 26, 2007, Commissioner W. Ralph Basham and Assistant Commissioner Thomas Winkowski announced the selection of Gene Garza to the Senior Executive Service as the Port Director, Laredo.
In January 2011, Mr. Garza was recognized as a 2010 Tejano Achiever by LULAC Council 12. Hosted by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council No. 12, the Tejano Achiever awards each year recognize extraordinary Laredoans who have distinguished themselves in various disciplines, including federal government, medicine, law and community activism.
In addition Mr. Garza has served as either Chairman or Co-Chairman for the Combined Federal Campaign's Southwest Texas Chapter for the last 16 years. Under his leadership, the Southwest Texas Campaign received several national awards. He served as well as Honorary Board Member to the following local associations: Washington's Birthday Celebration Association, Laredo Chamber of Commerce, Laredo Boys and Girls Club, Laredo Community College, Logistics and Manufacturing Association and coached his son's basketball team at Mary Help of Christians for eight years.
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.