Area native leads Coast Guard task force

SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL—Capt. Timothy J. Espinoza, a Delta High School graduate,commands the Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team, a counterterrorism and drug interdiction effort based in San Diego.

A counterterrorism and drug-interdiction team based in San Diego is expected to grow under the leadership of a western Colorado native.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Timothy J. Espinoza assumed command in June of the guard’s Maritime Safety and Security Team.

The team now boasts about 120 members and is set to grow to about 200 in the coming years, Espinoza said.

Espinoza is a 1987 graduate from what is now Colorado Mesa University, and a former Colorado State Patrol trooper in the Delta area.

Espinoza, also a U.S. Army veteran, left the state patrol to join the Coast Guard in 1991 on a direct-commission program that led to assignments along the Eastern Seaboard and in the Northern Command, where he planned for water rescues for space shuttle lift-offs from Florida.

Espinoza was working on South Padre Island in Texas, dealing with Mexican border-security issues on Sept. 11, 2001.

The team he now heads was established in direct response to the terrorist attacks.

“We are a national asset,” Espinoza said of the team with a primary focus of counterterrorism on the West Coast and a secondary mission of drug interdiction.

Espinoza is a 1982 graduate of Delta High School. He is married to the former Michelle Kay Schlappe of Eckert and they have three sons.


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