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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

New Border Patrol Chief Named Amid Key Leadership Transitions at CBP

A new Border Patrol chief has been selected to take the helm amid leadership transitions announced today at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Benjamine “Carry” Huffman will retire on June 30, Acting Commissioner Troy Miller announced today.

Huffman has served as executive assistant commissioner of Enterprise Services since October 2019 and took on the role of acting chief operating officer in January 2022. His career with the Border Patrol began in 1985 and his roles have included acting director of the Special Operations Group, chief of the Strategic Planning and Analysis Directorate at Border Patrol Headquarters and deputy chief of the El Paso Sector. He joined the Senior Executive Service in January 2014 and his honors have included the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award.

“Since June 2021, he has been by my side every day, serving as CBP’s second highest career official and leading the day-to-day operations of our agency while supporting our 65,000-strong workforce,” Miller said. “There is simply no greater champion of the men and women of CBP than Chief Huffman, and he leaves behind an incredible legacy of service spanning nearly four decades. I am very grateful to Chief Huffman and his family for their service and sacrifice, and wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

After Huffman retires, Executive Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Field Operations Pete Flores will move into the acting deputy commissioner role.

Flores joined the U.S. Customs Service in 1988 and has held multiple key leadership roles across the agency including as director of field operations for the San Diego Field Office, acting executive assistant commissioner for Operations Support, and assistant director for trade in the San Diego Field Office.

Once Flores moves to fill Huffman’s role, Deputy EAC Diane Sabatino will serve as the acting executive assistant commissioner for the Office of Field Operations.

Through more than 25 years of service, Sabatino has led high-performing teams in strategic locations, Miller noted, including as the director of Field Operations for the Miami Field Office, port director at the Port of Miami, and assistant port director at Miami International Airport.

Last week it was announced that Chief Raul Ortiz will retire on June 30 after a 32-year career with the U.S. Border Patrol.

“Chief Ortiz is a true leader who has worked tirelessly to ensure our Border Patrol agents have the tools, resources, and support they need to do their jobs. He has numerous accolades and awards from his tenure in the Border Patrol, but the highest compliment we can bestow on him is that he is a great agent,” Miller said. “I have benefited greatly from his partnership, expertise, and wise counsel over the years, and congratulate him on his retirement after three decades of service.”

Ortiz’s replacement was announced today: Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Jason Owens will become the 26th chief of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Owens is a 25-year veteran of the Border Patrol whose leadership roles have included chief of the U.S. Border Patrol Academy and chief of the Houlton Sector.

“Over the course of his career, Chief Owens has demonstrated consistent dedication to OUR border security and homeland security missions, and to the men and women who carry out these responsibilities every day,” Owens said. “I am confident that he will ably lead the U.S. Border Patrol into its 100th year and beyond.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas welcomed Owens to his new role, lauding him as “a talented, selfless, and inspiring leader who is dedicated to the Border Patrol’s law enforcement mission, the men and women who fulfill it, and the country that we all serve.”

“I have worked with Chief Owens; I am inspired by his commitment to the mission, and am grateful to him for his continued service in this new leadership role,” he said.

Mayorkas also congratulated Flores and Sabatino “for their richly-deserved promotions in the headquarters of CBP.”

“They too are great leaders who will carry forward in the proudest traditions of CBP, building on their remarkable years of service and ascension through the ranks of the organization,” he said.

Huffman and Ortiz “embody the ideals of public service,” Mayorkas said, and “have dedicated their careers to the safety and security of the American people and the betterment of the great CBP for which they have sacrificed so much.”

“Their legacy of service is enduring and will forever be a part of the fabric of the entire Department of Homeland Security,” the secretary added. “Their legacy includes the many men and women whom they have inspired to serve and lead with honor and integrity. I congratulate them on their retirement and am profoundly grateful to them for everything they have done.”

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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