DPS' involvement in drug war helping border patrol
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Illegal immigration and drug trafficking are big dangers along the Texas-Mexico border. Border patrol agents are doing what they can to stop it. Now they're getting a lot of help from the state's DPS, including helicopters like the one we just mentioned.
The border battle plays out like an action movie -- another day, another confrontation with the notorious drug cartel.
A truck, loaded with drugs, quickly sinks while cartel henchmen scramble to gather the narcotics. These new DPS choppers have a heavy load from the river to chasing suspected drug runners still wet from their crossing.
We got an exclusive look at this war from the front lines.
"We're looking for drug smugglers, transnational gangs operating on the border. We're looking for alien smugglers, human smugglers," said DPS chopper Capt. Stacy Holland.
And not surprisingly with these new DPS toys they have captured all of the above.
This border is tremendously porous throughout the 1,300 miles all the way to El Paso. Yet they are able to focus on the areas most heavily trafficked, especially when it comes to drugs.
"The problem is that there are so many of these cartel soldiers. They literally outnumber the Mexican forces," Capt. Holland said.
"They survive because of the money," said DPS Regional Commander Joe Rodriguez.
He is leading this new fight by the DPS. Gone is the image of the highway patrol. This is a boots on the ground, river and air approach.
"When we cause them (drug cartels) to change their tactics, that tells you your producing results," said Rodriguez.
When we asked him about gun battles, Rodriguez said, "Our troopers, our agents, our rangers, are going to protect themselves at all cost."
With this new technology from choppers to heavily armed river boats, the DPS is more ready than it has ever been. But so are the drug lords who are increasingly more bold and more violent.
I've walked through the Mexican prisons housing these drug thugs; they are more determined than ever to win this battle.
And it was just last month that 132 prisoners, mostly cartel henchmen, dug their way to freedom through this tunnel. It was a massive break organized by the Zeta drug cartel to increase its smuggling soldiers.
Most believe those inmates are now back on the front lines of the cartel smuggling operation.
"They do have tactical training. They do have camps where they are teaching them how to use the guns," Rodriguez told us.
The cartels brutal massacres are evidence of that. Then the question is: Is the tough new line by the DPS making a difference?
"Whether it's a pound of marijuana or a pound of cocaine or assault rifles, we're saving lives. Every day, DPS and local and federal agencies are saving lives," said Rodriguez.
As potentially deadly as these border battles are, the DPS has so far not been out-gunned. It's only hoped it stays that way.
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