HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — When Governor Abbott arrived at the Rio Grande Valley three weeks ago, he launched Operation Lone Star to fight against human smuggling at the border.
Troopers are usually on the roadways, but now, thanks to Operation Lone Star, they are in the Rio Grande River waters.
“We have our criminal investigators out on scene,” said Lt. Chris Olivarez, Public Information Officer, Texas Department of Public Safety -South Texas Region. “We have our aircraft personnel, as you can see we have our Tactical Marine Unit as well, patrolling the Rio Grande River.”
Operation Lone Star focuses DPS resources to fight criminal activity along the border.
Lt. Olivarez said that with the influx of families and young children crossing, Border Patrol agents are busy processing rather than patrolling.
“So, what that does, is it allows the cartels to increase their criminal activity, by pushing narcotics through those open gaps. That’s what we, the Texas Department of Public Safety, we fill in those gaps, to assist our federal partners,” Olivarez said.
As part of Operation Lone Star, DPS has more than a dozen boats deployed, patrolling the Rio Grande River looking for suspicious activity.
“What you’re currently seeing is just one of the commonly used trails,” explained James Purcell, Technical Sargent, DPS-Tatical Marine Unit. “Your seeing a bunch of old rafts that have been destroyed or torn up enough that they had to get a new one. You can see a backpack right over here, water bottles for hydration.”
The operation has yielded drug seizures, 180 arrests including criminal gang members, $600,0000, and encounters with nearly 10,000 migrants.
“You know we’ve been able to help people who have had medical problems, people drowning, and any type of criminal aspect. We do a good job of preventing that,” Purcell said.
As they patrol the front lines, troopers said that they are making an impact.
“It’s very crucial very vital that we fill in those gaps, to ensure the safety of communities the safety of the citizens of Texas. We want to ensure public safety and border security.” Says Lt. Olivarez