WESLACO, Texas ( ValleyCentral) — The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department held their first weekly briefing on Thursday, to give updates on Operation Lone Star (OLS).
The operation was ordered by Governor Greg Abbott in March. OLS allows Texas DPS and the Texas National Guard to team up and patrol high-risk areas along the southern border, including the Rio Grande Valley.
With sized weapons and drugs on full display, Lieutenant Christopher Olivarez said the department has had their hands full on the border.
“Troopers that work along the border they deal with this day in and day out,” Olivarez said. “But the numbers that we are seeing this year have been historic, just the surge of migrants that have been coming across, the criminal activity, the increase in vehicle pursuits, we have never seen that before in prior years.”
According to Texas DPS, there have been over 200 vehicle pursuits of drug and human smugglers in the Valley. During the briefing, a dashcam video was shown of those pursuits in Starr and Hidalgo County. Some of the drug apprehensions were just in the last five days.
Texas DPS Regional Director Victor Escalon says the smugglers they have run into are not just adults.
“The adults were getting away with driving the narcotic but more so driving the human smuggling, the migrants,” Escalon said. ” And we’re seeing juveniles, we’re still seeing juveniles being more aggressive and wanting to fight with our personnel.”
Operation Lone Star has also been expanded to counties north of the valley, including Val Verde and Edwards County. Texas DPS says there still needs to be more government support to help lower the high numbers.
“The federal government needs to help Border Patrol and provide them with more resources because right now they are being stretched thin,” Olivarez said “We’re the ones filling those gaps along the border because they are being taken away from the field and processing all the migrants that are coming across.”
While the large smuggling influx shows no signs of slowing down, Operation Lone Star plans to stay in full force.
“We’ve got to be out there every day, we have to be visible, they’ve got to see us in those areas of interest,” Escalon said. “The airplanes, your helicopters, your boats that are in the water, that is a great deterrence, and having fencing, that is a great deterrence.”