Sat. May 18th, 2024

Two top Border Patrol officials who partied with Mexican tequila mogul are now under investigation

By 37ci3 May10,2024

Two tops Border Patrol Three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News that the officers are under investigation after the border patrol entertained and hosted a wealthy Mexican tequila producer who hoped to make branded tequila.

Sources said the contact between distiller Francisco Javier Gonzalez and Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens and Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector Chief Gloria Chavez raised questions about whether officials should open contact with a foreign national, a requirement for those who receive a high-security clearance. , and whether they have accepted anything that may constitute a violation of ethical guidelines. The agency’s internal oversight body, the Customs and Border Protection Office of Professional Responsibility, is investigating.

In photos posted on social media this February, Owens and Chavez were seen with Gonzalez at his family’s distillery, Tequila Casa de los González, in Jalisco, Mexico.

For more on this story, tune into NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt tonight at 6:30 PM ET/5:30 PM CT or check your local listings.

Their relationship dates back to at least July 2023, when Gonzalez hosted a reception for Customs and Border Protection officials in Laredo, Texas, two Homeland Security Department officials said. Gonzalez is the grandson of the founder of Don Julio tequila, a major international brand, and his family remains prominent in the industry.

Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens, center, and Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector Chief Gloria Chavez, center left, at Tequila Casa de los Gonzalez.
Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens, center, and Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector Chief Gloria Chavez, far left, at Tequila Casa de los Gonzalez in Jalisco, Mexico.@mindmexico via Instagram

At one point, Gonzalez and Border Patrol executives discussed making Border Patrol-branded tequila for the Border Patrol’s 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated at a multi-day event in El Paso, Texas, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. , later this month.

The Border Patrol tequila project has been suspended amid an ongoing CBP investigation, three sources told NBC News.

Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens
Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens in Harlingen, Texas, in 2023.Veronica G. Cardenas / AFP via Getty Images file

A CBP spokesman did not say whether Owens and Chavez disclosed their relationship with Gonzalez or how they paid for their trip to Mexico. Jalisco, known for its tequila industry, is a two-hour flight from San Antonio, Texas.

In a statement, a CBP spokesperson said, “CBP trusts our senior leaders and holds them to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. Consistent with our commitment to accountability, we thoroughly investigate all allegations and take appropriate action to resolve any issues. will continue to strengthen our commitment.”

“CBP officials often have relationships with local businesses. But at the same time, CBP officials are aware of the potential for things to go wrong in these kinds of relationships,” said Tom Warrick, a former DHS counterterrorism official who heads the Future of DHS Project at the Atlantic Council think tank. “CBP has very high standards for integrity and security. So I think that even such images are taken very seriously by CBP.”

Gonzalez and his company, Tequila Reserva de los Gonzalez, did not respond to requests for comment about Owens and Chavez, their trip to Jalisco, the Laredo party or plans for the Border Patrol tequila.

While Border Patrol tequila is now off the menu, the agency is still gearing up for its 100th anniversary later this month in El Paso. The schedule, posted online, includes two golf tournaments, a parade and a black-tie gala over several days in late May.

of the event website lists four sponsors. The three largest CBP contractors have combined to receive hundreds of millions in government contracts.

Gloria Chavez, US Border Patrol RGV Sector Senior Patrol Agent
Gloria Chavez, chief patrol agent for the US Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, in Brownsville, Texas, in May 2023.Veronica G. Cardenas / AP file

The companies did not respond to requests for comment.

Danielle Brian, executive director of the Government Oversight Project, a good government nonprofit, said the sponsorship alone raises questions. “This scenario raises a million red flags about the suitability of government contractors taking on public sector clients,” he said.

The new allegations are the latest controversy in a year and a half for the nation’s largest law enforcement agency.

In January 2023, Acting Chief of Law Enforcement Operations Tony Barker abruptly resigned. amid allegations that he pressured female employees for sex.

In February 2024 Joel Martinez, the Border Patrol’s second in command, has retired between allegations of sexual abuse by female workers. The same month’s whistleblower report asked why CBP’s chief medical officer was trying to order it fentanyl lollipops For a mission to provide security for the UN General Assembly in New York in the fall of 2023.

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By 37ci3

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