The chief of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector is leaving just nine months after he took the post - making it the shortest tenure in more than 50 years.
Victor Manjarrez Jr., a Tucson native and graduate of Sunnyside High School and the University of Arizona, became the Tucson Sector chief in February.
His nine-month stint is the shortest of any Tucson Sector chief who has held the position since 1955. The shortest tenure before this was the two years Bruce Long spent as chief from June 1964 to July 1966, Border Patrol records show.
Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd Easterling provided only the following statement about Manjarrez: "Due to personal reasons, Chief Manjarrez is no longer Tucson Sector Chief. CBP (Customs and Border Protection) will not elaborate out of respect for his privacy."
The president of the agents' union in Arizona said he's been told that Manjarrez is being reassigned to the agency's El Paso Sector due to family issues. Prior to coming to Tucson, Manjarrez was the El Paso Sector chief, and his family is still there, said Brandon Judd, head of the union, Local 2544.
No replacement has been officially announced, but Judd said they've been told it will be Randy Hill, the El Paso Sector chief. Hill was chosen because he works well with Jeff Self, the man tapped to lead the recently opened Joint Command Center, Judd said. Self is a division chief at Border Patrol headquarters in Washington , D.C.
Easterling could not confirm or deny that Hill and Self have been chosen for those positions.
The Joint Command Center, based in Tucson, was created to foster better information sharing and operations coordination among U.S. Customs and Border Protection agencies in Arizona, Judd said. A Border Patrol official was chosen because the green-clad agency is the largest among the Customs and Border Protection agencies, which also include the Office of Air and Marine and the Office of Field Operations.
Manjarrez wasn't here long enough to fully evaluate, but all indications were that he was going to be a great chief, Judd said,
"As far as we go, we are actually pretty sad to see Chief Manjarrez go," Judd said.
Manjarrez, a 21-year veteran of the Border Patrol, was a deputy chief in the Tucson Sector from July 2006 through July 2007 and also had served as the patrol agent in charge of the Naco and Douglas stations.
He was the 19th chief of the Tucson Sector dating to 1934.
Manjarrez replaced Robert Gilbert, who was chief from March 2007 to February 2010. Gilbert left Arizona to take a job as the Department of Homeland Security attaché in Mexico. Like Manjarrez, Gilbert was the El Paso Sector chief prior to coming to Tucson.
The Tucson Sector is the busiest of the nine sectors on the Southwest border, accounting for nearly half of all apprehensions and marijuana seizures along the U.S.-Mexico border. There are more than 3,200 agents patrolling the 262 miles of border from New Mexico to Yuma County.
The pressure of managing the busiest sector is making each chief's tenure shorter, Judd said.
"We've never seen anything close to the numbers we've seen in the last 10 years," Judd said. "Because of that, the focus has been on Tucson. And with SB 1070 and the other laws coming out, there's been a lot of pressure."
Past Border Patrol Tucson Sector chiefs
• Marvin Hensley 1959-1964
• Bruce Long 1964-1966
• James Kelley 1966-1977
• Herbert Walsh 1977-1980
• Leon Ring 1980-1982
• Jerald Jondall 1983-1988
• Ronald Dowdy 1988-1995
• Ronald Sanders 1995-1999
• David V. Aguilar 1999-2004
• Michael Nicley 2004-2007
• Robert W. Gilbert 2007-February 2010
• Victor M. Manjarrez Jr. February-December 2010
SOURCE: U.S. Border Patrol
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or email@example.com