Desert Duty: On the Line with the U.S. Border Patrol

By Bill Broyles; Mark Haynes | Go to book overview

ALVARO “MIKE” OBREGON

Alvaro “Mike” Obregon served in the Border Patrol from
1980 to 2002 and at Tacna Station from 1984 to 1986. He
currently lives in Tucson, Arizona
.

I joined Border Patrol by a fluke. In 1978 I walked into the Superior Court building in Tucson. A poster said, “Now hiring Border Patrol.” So I filled out an application and eventually got hired. I was told to report to Del Rio, Texas. I remember calling the airport and telling them I wanted a one-way ticket to Del Rio. They said, “Just a minute, sir.” They come back and said, “I’m sorry, sir, but we never heard of it,” so I rode the bus all the way down.

I was there from 1980 to 1984 doing mostly sensor activity, city patrol, and highway checkpoint. We normally did the still watches on the crossings on the canal. You’ve got the river, Rio Grande, the canal, and certain areas. It was pretty interesting. There was a lot of smuggling. But I wanted to work in my hometown, Tucson, so I took a position at Tacna, Arizona, and figured I could then transfer to Tucson.

Tacna was a different area, very hot and dry. At Tacna the bushes are not even big enough to give shade to the lizards. We used to jokingly call them stick lizards. They would carry a stick for a while, and when it got too hot, they would climb the stick to cool their feet off. And they carried canteens. It was interesting down there.

I caught a group of aliens, one time, down there right at the border. They were only about a hundred yards from the drag road with twentyfive miles to go. They only had a gallon of water apiece and I knew they wouldn’t make it. We picked up a lot of dead, too many. Women, kids, men. They don’t know the area. They can’t carry enough water to survive that desert trek —it was just too hot and harsh. You’d find them dead there

-152-

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Desert Duty: On the Line with the U.S. Border Patrol
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword Silent Long Enough ix
  • Introduction on Edge 1
  • On the Line 21
  • Chet Wilson 23
  • Ed Tuffly 34
  • Jim Runyan 44
  • Jackie Mason 62
  • Hank Hays 74
  • Joe McCraw 89
  • Colonel R. Child 99
  • Glen Payne 113
  • George Boone 119
  • Howard Aitken 128
  • Mark Haynes 135
  • Alvaro [Mike] Obregon 152
  • Robert [Mac] McLemore 159
  • Randy Herberholz 168
  • Wendy Conde 181
  • Kenny Smith 186
  • Joe Brigman 199
  • Ronald S. [Ron] Colburn 212
  • Carla L. Provost 221
  • Conclusion- before They Die 227
  • Our Approach, and Acknowledgments 231
  • Sources and Suggested Reading 235
  • The Editors 237
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