Thursday, October 29, 2009
Gustavo De La Vina, the former U.S. Border Patrol chief, has died at age 70 in the Balkan nation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he worked as a private advisor. De La Vina joined the Border Patrol in 1970 at the Eagle Pass, Texas, port of entry. He rose through the ranks to become deputy El Paso sector chief, San Diego sector chief and the Western regional director. In December 1997, he was promoted to chief of the Border Patrol, the first of Mexican American descent, and remained in the post until he retired in 2004.
De La Vina implemented Operation Gatekeeper, a controversial border operation in the San Diego area that militarized the border and resulted in many deaths while also reducing migrant traffic in urban areas. After his promotion to patrol chief, he created the Border Safety Initiative to warn would-be immigrants of the dangers of border crossings and searches for immigrants in distress in deserts.
The L.A. Times obituary offers more details about De La Vina.