Errol J. Chavez was born in Los Alamos on Feb. 5, 1949, and died in Las Cruces on Jan. 23, 2011. He was the second child of T.J. and Vangie Chavez. Errol grew up in Espanola, and with the exception of his sophomore year, where he attended school at New Mexico Military Institute, he graduated from Espanola High School, where he excelled in sports, most notable football and basketball.
After high school, Errol attended the University of New Mexico where he earned his BA degree in 1972. Errol decided to follow his dadâ€™s footsteps by pursuing a career in law enforcement starting out as a deputy sherif f for one year with the Bernalillo County Sheriffâ€™s Department. He then joined the ranks of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration where he served the nation as a DEA agent for 31 years.
During the early years of his career, Errol was involved in DEA overseas operations that targeted illegal narcotics traffickers. He was the first DEA stationed in Medellin, Columbia, during the early 1980s, when Columbia was plagued by violence caused by the various drug trafficking organizations. Errol was also stationed in Barcelona, Spain, and Mexico City, where he battled drug traf fickers.
In the United States, he served in DEA of fices in Nogales, Ariz.; Denver; Houston; New York City; Boston; and Los Angeles. His last two assignments with DEA were special agent in charge of DEAâ€™s San Diego and Phoenix offices. As a special agent with the DEA, Errol received numerous awards for his performance while assigned to foreign and domestic DEA offices. These awards recognized Errolâ€™s per formance in overt and covert investigations he successfully completed and for intelligence programs he developed on major domestic and international criminal organizations.
Other career accomplishments while at DEA include his election as president of the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, his election as president of the International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association and his selection by DEA to attend the National War College. He was also featured in numerous state and national publications and appeared on television shows such as â€œAmericaâ€™s Most Wanted.â€
After retiring from DEA in 2004, Errol moved back to his native New Mexico to become the director of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area in Las Cruces. In 2006, he accepted a position with LaserShield Security Systems as executive vice president for international affairs, and in 2007 Errol left to pursue other endeavors. Errol, a conservative Republican, always had an interest in politics and in 2009 he decided to seek statewide elective office. He received the Republican nomination for the Office of State Auditor.
During the summer of 2010 while campaigning all over the state he began experiencing health problems, although he was determined to complete the campaign. In October 2010, Errol was diagnosed with brain cancer and while he had to suspend his campaign while undergoing treatment, he still received approximately 47 percent of the statewide vote for state auditor.
Family was always important to Errol and he is survived by his four children: daughter Lisa Day, and her husband, Jared, of Dallas, and grandchildren, Patrick, Samantha and Kara; son Dustin Chavez, and his wife, Karla, of Albuquerque, and grandchildren, Kadence and Kendell; son Duane Chavez, and his wife, Jessyca, of Las Cruces; and daughter, Ericka Chavez, and her boyfriend, Mario Carvajal, of Samford, Conn. Errolâ€™s father, T.J. Chavez, preceded him in death.
Errol is also survived by his mother, Evangeline I. Chavez; his older brother, Daniel D. Chavez; his younger sister, Loretta Chavez Johnson, and her husband, Judge William P. Johnson; and nieces and nephews, Damian and Manuel Chavez, Scott and Jennifer Henry and Laura and Paul Johnson. Errol lived a very fulfilling life and his family appreciates the New Mexico state officials and the legislators who all paused for a moment of silence in memory of Errol.
The family is grateful to those who visited Errol while he was under hospice care, to all those who sent cards and made telephone calls and for all the prayers and support for Errol during his illness. The family is also very grateful to the doctors and especially the nurses at Mesilla Valley Hospice for the loving care given to Errol during his last days.
A vigil and eulogy will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, and a funeral Mass at 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, at Risen Savior Catholic Church, 7701 Wyoming NE, Albuquerque, NM 87107. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Sick and in Need Program of Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 1, 6743 Academy NE, Ste. A, Albuquerque, NM 87109, an organization of which Errol was a proud member.