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Head of CBP tours Yuma Sector
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner W. Ralph Basham visited the Border Patrol's Yuma Sector on Wednesday, stopping off to view several key sites along the border.
"As the commissioner, he is going to be interested in seeing not only CBP locations but border security measures and tactical infrastructures that have been implemented," said Yuma Sector spokesman Ben Vik.
Basham is the head of CBP, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security.
As part of his trip, the commissioner received an aerial tour of the
southwest border, flying over the new port of entry and fences in San Luis, the Andrade port of entry, ongoing fencing projects along the Colorado River and the fence line in the Imperial Sand Dunes.
The CBP helicopter carrying Basham also landed at the Bureau of Land Management's Buttercup Ranger Station so the commissioner could see firsthand the tributes there honoring agent Luis Aguilar, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year.
The entrance road to the new station, which is located at the Gray's Well exit off Interstate 8 between Yuma and El Centro, in the Buttercup Off Highway Vehicle Park, is named after Aguilar.
"(The commissioner) personally wanted to see the street sign," Vik said of Basham, who also spoke at Aguilar's January funeral.
Aguilar, 32, was placing spike strips in the path of two vehicles believed to have illegally entered into the United States through the Imperial Sand Dunes, which is about 20 miles west of Yuma, from Mexico when one of the vehicles struck and killed him in January.
The commissioner also toured the new station and spoke to rangers about programs at the dunes.
While still at the ranger station, Basham expressed how impressed he was by the quality of the service provided by the CBP employees in both the Yuma and El Centro sectors, thanking them for their important work.
"I have always said I believe the reason we have not been attacked again since 9/11 is due to your efforts," Basham told the assembled agents.
He also commented on the changes he has seen in the sector since his last visit.
"(Agent Aguilar) did not die in vain," Basham said to the crowd of gathered agents. "His death has brought a tremendous amount of change."
Security for the parking lot landing at the ranger station was provided by the Yuma Sector's special response team, which is similar to a police department's SWAT team. BLM Rangers were also on scene.
Touring with the commissioner were Chief Patrol Agent Paul Beeson of the Yuma Sector and Chief Patrol Agent Jeffrey Calhoun of the El Centro Sector.
Before flying to Yuma on Wednesday afternoon, Basham had been touring the Tucson Sector.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854.