Customs Service Names Border Chief

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Rudy M. Camacho, who has overseen U.S. Customs Service operations on California’s border with Mexico, was named Wednesday to steer the agency’s enforcement efforts along the entire 2,000-mile international boundary.

Camacho was appointed Customs’ Southwest border coordinator, a newly created post based in San Diego that will oversee enforcement along a border that spans four U.S. states and sits at the fore of the federal government’s war on drug smuggling.

Camacho, 48, also will be responsible for coordinating the Customs Service’s activities with the wide array of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies working along the border.


“The coordinator of U.S. Customs’ activities will serve as our key source of information and understanding of events occurring at or along the U.S.-Mexico border,” Charles W. Winwood, Customs’ acting commissioner, said in a statement announcing the appointment. “No one in U.S. Customs is more familiar with what goes on along the Southwest border than Rudy M. Camacho.”

Each day, more than 260,000 cars and trucks and 127,000 pedestrians enter the United States legally from Mexico through 45 official border crossings.

Camacho, who was shown giving a border tour in the movie “Traffic,” said the growth in trade-related crossings and the perennial fight against drug smuggling have swamped inspectors, requiring the government to devise enforcement strategies across the border and involving various agencies.

“We’ve never seized more narcotics and contraband than we’re seizing right now,” he said. “Our own resources have not increased to meet that.”

Since 1995, Camacho has headed the Customs regional office in Southern California, overseeing ports of entry in San Diego, Tecate, Calexico and Andrade. Six crossings handle a daily volume of about 83,000 U.S.-bound cars and 3,000 trucks and buses.

Camacho previously headed the agency’s district office in San Diego, served as assistant inspections director for the regional office in Nogales, Ariz. Before that he was port director in Calexico. He joined the Customs Service in 1975.