BANGOR – The new chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Houlton Sector started this winter, but Wednesday he was officially sworn in to his new post here in Maine.
The Houlton Sector encompasses all of Maine, and now Chief Patrol Agent Jason Owens oversees it.
Wednesday’s ceremony recognizing the change of command took place at the Army National Guard training facility in Bangor, and was based on military ceremonies, featuring a badge pinning and oath of office.
Owens is from Oklahoma, and came to Maine in February after being stationed at the southern border and in Washington, DC.
“I went from eighty degrees in Laredo to negative four when I got up here, and snow that was as tall as me,” joked Owens.
He said the Houlton Sector in Maine covers more land with about a tenth of the manpower than at the southern border, and that 15 to 20 percent of the Houlton Sector’s agents have been sent to the south.
To combat that, Owens said he wants to work with other law enforcement here in Maine.
“The state of Maine depends in large part on those partnerships. Everybody impacts the mission of the other person,” said Owens.
He also said he wants to increase border patrol’s marine presence at the coastal border from Calais all the way down to Portland to prevent the smuggling of drugs and people on the water.
“I know that one of the greatest challenges that anyone in Maine faces goes to the old adage you can’t get there from here,” said Owens. He said he wanted to, “expand our presence to make sure that that coastal area is not being exploited by, particularly, the narcotics smugglers.”
While the southern border has been in the media a lot recently, Maine’s border patrol presence dates back to the 1920’s, in part to combat illegal logging activity from Canadians.
Now, Owens said he wants to increase transparency with the media and the public here in Maine as to what the approximately 200 border patrol agents in Maine do.