BLAINE - The chief of the U.S. Border Patrol's Blaine Sector was removed from his position Monday morning, Aug. 5, but the agency refused to release any details.
John C. Bates was relieved of his duties after six years serving as chief patrol agent for the sector, which is in charge of protecting the borders of Western Washington, Alaska and Oregon. It is one of 20 Border Patrol sectors nationwide.
Jeffrey D. Jones, a public affairs officer for the Blaine sector, said late Monday afternoon the agency had no immediate comment on Bates or his status.
On Tuesday morning, however, Jones emailed this brief statement to The Bellingham Herald: "The U. S. Border Patrol has given Blaine Sector Chief Patrol Agent, John C. Bates, a temporary duty assignment to duties at Border Patrol Headquarters. Blaine Sector Deputy Chief Patrol Agent, Henry Rolon, will assume the duties of the Chief Patrol Agent until further notice."
No other comment was issued.
Bates' removal was confirmed by Michael Cox, president of the National Border Patrol Council, Local 2913, which represents local Border Patrol agents but not the chief. Cox didn't have details of why Bates was removed.
Cox said that two associate chiefs from Washington, D.C., addressed local managers Monday morning and informed them that headquarters had been monitoring Bates' ability to lead for some time, and they decided they were going to relieve him of his command.
He believed that Bates was being transferred to Washington, D.C., to continue to work for the Border Patrol.
"At this point in your career, it's somewhere to be put out to pasture," Cox said of the transfer.
Bates had been with the Border Patrol since 1985, according to a 2007 news release from Customs and Border Protection announcing Bates' selection as Blaine Sector chief.
This is the second time in the past several years that a leader of the Blaine sector has been removed from his position. In October 2008, then-Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Joseph Giuliano, 55, was arrested for having sex at least 24 times with a 14-year-old girl who had been living in his home the previous year. He retired from the Border Patrol after his arrest. In 2009 he pleaded guilty to three counts of third-degree child rape and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Rolon was brought in to replace Giuliano.