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U.S.-Mexican border is not safe
Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety and former director of Texas Homeland Security
Wilson County NewsNovember 13, 2013 2,831 views 10 comments
Despite top national officials saying otherwise, violence along the U.S.-Mexican border is growing. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw spoke of “Protecting Our Ranches on the Border” June 28, during the annual convention of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas in Bastrop.
The former director of Texas Homeland Security who worked with the narcotics division in the late 1970s, McCraw served almost 20 years as a special agent with the FBI. As Drug Enforcement Agency/Caribbean division coordinator, he witnessed human trafficking and Mexican cartel activities in the 1980s. He has served with Texas Homeland Security for five years, and has seen the violence firsthand. He gave a report -- abandoning his prepared speech -- stating that the Texas border is not safe, despite what the Government Accountability Office and others want Texans and the nation to believe.
In 2001, after the 9-11 attacks in the United States, Texas adopted its first task force to track foreign terrorists, after the Canadian and the United States’ southwestern border were identified as the weakest areas regarding public safety and security.
Texas comprises 63 percent of the border between the United States and Mexico, and is a common gateway used by the cartels.
McCraw named six to eight cartels that not only smuggle drugs, such as cocaine, black tar heroin, and marijuana, but also are involved with human trafficking. The cartels target the border and retail cities across the nation.
Although many -- including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano -- say the border is safe, McCraw states the opposite, citing border crime statistics.
The Government Accountability Office does not include border-related crimes, such as spillover crimes, in its reports.
“We don’t count trespassing, cutting fences, and vandalism” in the index crimes, McCraw said. Index crimes include murder, aggravated assault, forcible rape, theft, and arson.
Farmers and ranchers are in harm’s way, since the government does not include such cases, McCraw emphasized.
In 2008, officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- the border patrol -- arrested and/or jailed approximately 150,000 individuals for non-immigration or non-gang or cartel-related violations, McCraw said. Records indicate for the same period, 500,000 crimes were reported for multiple cases, including larceny, trespassing, 2,000 murders, and 5,000 sexual-related crimes.
Today, the cartels are using military tactics, logistics power, and commando-style tactics against the United States. Law enforcement is needed for cities and rural areas as well, McCraw said.
Human trafficking and terrorist support cells have entered into the United States undetected, he said.
Cartels also have recruited children as drivers, using extortion and even kidnapping. Teens as young as 13 years old are being enticed to join a gang, membership that continues into their adulthood.
Mexico has “lost a generation of youth” due to drug cartels, McCraw said.
These same people are involved with human trafficking, as well.
McCraw spoke of an incident involving organized criminal activity when the drug lords took 76 shots at federals agents. To defend themselves, the Drug Enforcement Agency fired back, a maximum of 200 rounds. It was later found that the vehicle involved was stolen, and the cartels were defending drugs in their possession.
To avoid arrest, some “coyotes” -- people who smuggle illegal immigrants -- crash their vehicles and payload into fences. Some are captured by authorities, but others escape, to try later to enter the states again. (See Human trafficking below.)
This tactic has produced from 2,000 to 3,000 high-speed pursuits along the border that put the public at risk.
To combat the illegal traffic, McCraw said paramilitary-style techniques and equipment are needed, such as machine guns and other armament, helicopters, boats, and more manpower.
“We need to be proactive with technology,” McCraw said, including the use of aircraft, Ranger reconnaissance, and sniper rifles.
Approximately 21,000 border patrol officers defend this country, compared to 38,000 police officers to protect New York City, he said.
The U.S. government and state legislatures need to make border security a priority, McCraw said, concluding, with emphasis, “The border is not safe.”
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