Police & Law Enforcement

El Paso Border Patrol Chief Turns Blind Eye To Abuse

Author note’s: some content in this story is graphic in nature and may be offensive to some readers.

In July 2019, Border Patrol Agent Gustavo Zamora was indicted in Tucson on three counts of felony sexual assault charges, in addition to another charge of kidnapping. At the time of Zamora’s indictment, his wife, Gloria Chavez who is also a Border Patrol Agent, was the interim El Paso Sector Chief for the Border Patrol.

Chavez was appointed the interim chief in October 2019 when Aaron Hull was sent to Detroit following the 2019 controversial detention of migrant children at the border. El Paso was the test center for Trump’s child separation program that resulted in migrants being separated from their children.

On March 1, 2020, Gloria Chavez was appointed the El Paso Sector Chief, removing interim from her title.

Currently, Chavez is overseeing the latest migrant crisis on the border.

In July 2018, when Gustavo Zamora was arrested in Tucson on sexual assault charges, the Border Patrol allowed him to quietly retire 21 days after his arrest. According to the indictment, Zamora is accused of taking a female subordinate Border Patrol agent to his hotel room and raping her.

In response to questions about her husband’s arrest, Gloria Chavez told the El Paso Times in October 2019 that “as a Sector Chief, I want to emphasize that this situation does not reflect upon the integrity, character or leadership of the Border Patrol and CBP.”

The problem with Chavez’ response is that it ignores the years of criminality that has existed within the Border Patrol. Criminality that not only includes sexual abuse but also the abuse of children, including a case of both parents who were Border Patrol agents at the time they were abusing their three children.

The abusive behavior of the Border Patrol has led a former agent to say that a “culture of racism” exists within the Border Patrol. Former agent Jenn Budd, who entered the Border Patrol in the 1990’s and resigned in 2001, has become one the agency’s harshest critics, labeling the Border Patrol as a “culture of racism”.

I’m 10-15 Facebook Group

In August 2016, the I’m 10-15 Facebook page was created, according to a July 1, 2019 ProPublica report that exposed the page. The code, 10-15 is used by Border Patrol agents to report that an undocumented immigrant is in custody. The Facebook page hosted about 9,500 current and former Border Patrol agents. The page shared sexist and racist content. One of the most controversial postings were fake pictures of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez performing a sexual act on Donald Trump.

Facebook Group 10-15 Screen Grab, July 2019.

Shortly after the I’m 10-15 Facebook scandal became news, Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost told Newsweek that the Facebook group was “completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity” of the Border Patrol. However, although promising to hold agents who participated in the Facebook page accountable, Provost later admitted to being a member of the page.

ProPublica was able to trace several of the postings to “legitimate Facebook profiles belonging to Border Patrol agents, including a supervisor based in El Paso, Texas.” Who the supervisor is remains unknown.

Border Politics has documented several cases of Border Patrol Agent criminals over the years.

Child Abuser Border Patrol Agents

Among the more egregious crimes committed by Border Patrol agents are child abuse. The following is a sampling of the many cases.

Jason Christopher Davis of Las Cruces pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in 2018.

Keith Hook pleaded guilty to child pornography in 2018 in New York.

Vernon Lee Millicant was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison on child pornography charges in 2020. Between April 2015 and June 2018, while working as a Border Patrol Agent, Millicant admitted to producing and possessing images and videos of “himself sexually assaulting” children.

Paul Casey Whipple was one of several individuals arrested in one of the largest darknet child pornography cases in Houston in 2019. The darknet child pornography website was funded through Bitcoin. Over 335 individuals were arrested.

However, child molestation is not the only type of crime committed by Border Patrol Agents. There are several cases of agents sexually assaulting migrants and others beating the immigrants they encounter.

For example, Jason Andrew McGilvray pleaded guilty to assaulting an immigrant on August 26, 2019 according to McGilvray’s plea agreement. McGilvray admitted to striking the immigrant on February 16, 2019 in Calexico, California.

One of the most egregious is the case of Mathew Bowen who was angry at immigrants in general when we used his Border Patrol truck to strike a migrant.

Border Patrol Agent Runs Over Migrant With Truck

In August 2019, Mathew Bowen agreed to plead guilty for hitting and nearly running over Antolin Rolando Lopez-Aguilar with his Border Patrol truck on December 3, 2017. In his guilty plea, Bowen wrote that he “intentionally struck” the migrant “with unreasonable force.”

The court case against Bowen exposed the engrained racism that exists within the Border Patrol.

Text messages between Bowen and several other Border Patrol agents released in preparation for trial revealed the culture of racism within the Border Patrol that former agent Jenn Budd has outlined.

The evidence containing Bowen’s text messages exposes the racist language used by Border Patrol Agents. Words like “tonk” and “guat” are routinely used by agents. After hitting the immigrant with his agency Ford F-150 truck, Bowen texted, “chasing a guat with an f150 and accidently bumped him”.

His guilty plea says that he intentionally hit the migrant.

In another text message exchange, Bowen is asked by another agent if he “gas[sed] his corpse or just use[d] regular peanut oil while tazing” the migrant.

In a text message exchange from November 20, 2017, Bowen writes to another agent, “PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump! [sic],” adding, “disgusting subhuman shit unworthy of being kindling for a fire,” in reference to migrants.

Bowen’s attack on the migrant was caused by the recent death of Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez who died after falling into a concrete culvert, according to an FBI investigation. Several Border Patrol Agents and Border Patrol Union members wrongly believed that Martinez was killed by a migrant.

The term “tonc” is used to refer to “the sound a flashlight makes when you hit a migrant in the head with it,” according to former Border Patrol Agent Jenn Budd.

On November 20, 2019 Bowen was sentenced to three years of probation for intentionally hitting the Guatemalan migrant with his Border Patrol truck.

Currently Gloria Chavez oversees the unaccompanied migrant children being processed through El Paso during the recent surge of migrants at the border. Chavez’ husband sexually abused a Border Patrol colleague and Chavez has worked in the same environment that has led to many Border Patrol agents being charged with serious crimes, including child abuse.

El Paso not only gave birth to BORTAC, the enforcement arm of the Border Patrol used by the Trump administration to quell riots across the nation, but El Paso was also the place where zero tolerance was tested by Trump.

The El Paso Border Patrol Union is under criminal investigation by the FBI for union funds that have gone missing.

All this under the watchful eyes of Gloria Chavez.

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