‘Band of Badges’ Part 1

Local News

We kick off our special two-part story ‘Band of Badges’.

Our News Center 23’s Emily Jimenez is bringing you an inside look into ‘Los Federales’ the special music group made up of the men who form our nation’s first line of defense.

A morning pep talk with his officers, Chief Manny Maldonado tells them, “You guys are expected to maintain the operations.”

This is Chief Manny Maldonado with Customs and Border Protection Field of Operations in Brownsville. This is his routine pep talk with the officers that protect our U.S. borders at the Veterans International Bridge Port of Entry.

Not too far along the Rio Grande River is Amador Carbajal with U.S. Border Patrol. Making sure the border is protected.

He says they try to get away, they try to fight.

But not only are Maldonado and Carbajal fulfilling a duty to their community during 10 hour work days along our border with Mexico, but they both lead a community outreach band.

We introduce you to the band. We begin with, “I’m Manny Maldonado, I’m with Customs and Border Protection I’m a chief CBP Officer Field Operations and I’m the lead vocalist for Los Federales.”

“Hi, I’m Amador Carbajal I play with Los Federales, I play saxophone, I do second voice and I’m the sound man I work for the U.S Border Patrol.”

They started calling us Los Federales because we’re all federal agents so it just stuck with us so a lot of people know us now as by Los Federales.”, Said Agent Carbajal.

Rewind back to four years ago at a Hispanic Heritage Celebration event for both agencies, Maldonado believed the best way to contribute to the event would be to play music rich in Mexican American Culture.

Chief Maldonado said, “I found that there were two guys that played the accordions, I played the accordion too. I played the guitar and I said let’s put something together.  Mr. Amador Carbajal, he comes over and he says hey you guys going to put a band together? “

Agent Carbajal, “He says no we’re playing but we need a bass player do you play bass by any chance and I say, I play a little bit.”

Shortly after that, request after request came for Los Federales to perform at community events across the Rio Grande Valley. The band quickly grew up to include up to eight members.

“Joseph Flores and I play the Bajo sexto.”

“The name is Javier Nieto and I play the accordion.”

“Hi my name is Arnold Velasquez, I play the bass.”

“My name is Edgar Sanchez. I’m a Customs and Border Protection officer and I play drums.”

Chief Maldonado, “We became that connection to show that CBP, Customs and Border Protection, with US border patrol and the office of field operations, is one family doing something that we like, something that I think we’re pretty good at I think, and the agency is very supportive of being out there in the community and showing, being able to show our human side.”

What was the first song? Do you remember your first song?”

Chief Maldonado, “We sang one song that day, we said let’s sing one song and it’s called Chaparra de Mi Amor. From Ramon Ayala.”

Though most of the music they use to connect to our community is Tejano and Norteño, their song selection nowadays also includes Top 20, Rock, and Country.

Agent Amador Carbajal says, “We’re out there to entertain the people and to let them know what we do. We’re not saying hey is this person legal, no, we’re just there to play.”

Reporting in Brownsville, Emily Jimenez, KVEO News Center 23.

You now know who they are, you know they’re mission. How does the community respond?

Don’t miss out on the second part of this special two-part story, “Band of Badges”, tonight at ten. Only on News Center 23.

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