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Tag: Texas

CBP Reports 10-Fold Increase in Fentanyl Seized in South Texas

The DEA seized 15,000 pounds of fentanyl in one year. Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

CBP reported a more than ten-fold increase in fentanyl seizures in south Texas during fiscal year 2021. 

CBP officers at eight ports of entry from Brownsville to Del Rio seized 87,652 pounds of narcotics with a street value of $786 million, the agency said this week. 

They confiscated 41,713 pounds of marijuana, 8,592 pounds of cocaine, 33,777 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,215 pounds of heroin, 588 pounds of fentanyl, $10.4 million in unreported currency, 463 weapons and 84,863 rounds of ammunition. 

“Faced with significantly less traffic due to travel restrictions imposed for public health reasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the drug and contraband threat remained the same and our frontline CBP officers rose to the challenge to meet that threat head on,” Randy J. Howe, director of field operations at the Laredo Field Office, said in a statement. “Our significant gains in fentanyl and cocaine seizures underscore the deadly nature of the contraband we encounter, the need to utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect our officers and our continued resolve to carry out our vital border security mission.”

The seizures come at a time when U.S. authorities are seeing a surge in fentanyl overdoses. 

Biden Renominates Texas Sheriff to Lead ICE

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has been nominated to head ICE.

By Steve Neavling

President Biden nominated for a second time Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzaelez to be the next director of ICE. 

ICE has not had a confirmed director since January 2017, when Sarah Saldaña retired. 

In April 2020, Biden first nominated Gonzalez, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump’s immigration policies. But the nomination stalled in the Senate and expired at the end of the year. 

Gonzalez was elected sheriff of Harris County, which includes Houston, in 2016 and reelected in 2020. 

Gonzalez will likely face opposition from Republicans for a second time. 

Gonzalez has criticized Trump’s deportation policies and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

His law enforcement career began in the Houston Police Department, and he later served three terms on the Houston City Council. 

Gonzalez has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston Downtown and a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas. 

Volunteers to Assemble Appreciation Bags for Border Patrol Agents

The medical team prays with Border Patrol agents. Photo: Facebook/Mercy Works

By Steve Neavling

When a medical team in East Texas traveled to the U.S. and Mexico sides of the border to provide free treatment, they learned about the challenges facing Border Patrol agents. 

When the team of doctors, dentists and nurses returned home, they had a mission: Assemble appreciation bags for 600 agents, The Morning Telegraph reports.

The agents work hard and face dangers, and yet they are underappreciated, said Debbie Lascelles, founder of Mercy Works, a division of Youth With A Mission. 

The bags will be filled with items such as beef jerky, protein bars, sunscreen, socks, gum, gift cards and handwritten notes of appreciation. 

“Many of our Border Patrol agents feel overwhelmed and underappreciated,” Lascelles said. “It’s past time that those of us living in Texas show them we are grateful for the job they’re doing to try and keep us safe and uphold the rule of law.”

Retired FBI Agent Vies for State Senate Seat in Texas

Retired FBI Agent Tim Reid. Photo: Campaign

By Steve Neavling

A retired FBI agent is running for a seat on the state Senate in Texas. 

Tim Reid, a Republican, is vying to replace retiring Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, The Amarillo Pioneer reports.

Reid worked as an FBI agent in Amarillo from 1986 to 2005, according to his press release. He now serves as director of athletics and campus safety at Ascension Academy in Amarillo, where he also teaches geopolitics, geography, and crime scene forensics. 

Reid previously served as a member of the Canyon ISD Board of Trustees. 

The primary election is scheduled for March 1, 2022. 

DHS Inspector General Declines to Investigate Horse-Mounted Agents

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security’s inspector general has decided not to investigate horse-mounted Border Patrol agents who were seen in viral images blocking Haitian migrants from entering Del Rio, Texas.

The images provoked public outrage and a pledge by President Biden to swiftly investigate the incident. 

CBP initially referred the investigation to the inspector general’s office, which declined and handed it back to Homeland Security’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which “immediately commenced investigative work, including its review of videos and photographs and the interview of witnesses employees, and CBP leadership,” Homeland Security said in a statement Tuesday.

“Once completed, the results of the investigation will be provided to CBP management to determine whether disciplinary action is appropriate and, if so, the specific discipline to be imposed,” according to the statement. “At that time, the employees will be afforded due process, including an opportunity to respond, and any corrective actions will comport with applicable laws and regulations. The disciplinary process, which is separate from the fact-finding investigation, is subject to certain timelines established in CBP’s labor-management agreement with the employees’ union of the United States Border Patrol.” 

OPR is tasked with investigating alleged misconduct by CBP employees. As a matter of policy, OPR refers all allegations of serious misconduct to the inspector general’s office. 

“DHS remains committed to conducting a thorough, independent, and objective investigation,” the statement reads. “DHS will share information, as available, consistent with the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and individuals’ privacy.”

Border Patrol Agents Questioned about Use of Horses in Handling of Haitian Migrants

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

Federal investigators are finally interviewing Border Patrol personnel who were present in September when viral images showed agents on horses try to block Haitian migrants from entering Del Rio, Texas, ABC News reports.

The investigation was initiated by CBP following public outrage over Border Patrol agents on horses chasing and grabbing Haitian migrants. 

Homeland Security officials suspended the use of horse patrols following the shocking images, and President Biden pledged a swift investigation that will result in “consequences.”

But since then, the investigation has been anything but swift.  

Some have defended the agents, saying they were just doing their job. 

Details of the current investigation weren’t clear. 

At least two of the agents in the photos remain on administrative leave. 

FBI Assists in Investigation into Travis Scott’s Deadly Concert

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is helping investigate Friday’s deadly Astroworld concert in Houston, where eight people died after the crowd rushed toward the stage when rapper Travis Scott was on stage. 

The FBI is providing “some forms of technical assistance” to investigators, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Monday at a Justice Department news conference, ABC News reports.

Investigators are trying to determine how the melee happened, who’s to blame, and whether anyone is criminally liable. 

“There’s no question these kids were put in harm’s way,” legal analyst Carmen Roe told KHOU. “Now, who’s to blame will be the ultimate question here.”

The investigation will likely include sifting through thousands of cell phone videos, as well as the reaction from Scott, who continued to perform after concertgoers had collapsed.

Gov. Abbott Offers to Hire Border Patrol Agents If They’re Fired by Biden Admin

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo via Governor’s Office.

By Steve Neavling

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday pledged to hire Border Patrol agents if they are fired for their handling of Haitian migrants along the Rio Grande in Del rio, Texas. 

Shocking images showed the agents on horses chasing and grabbing the migrants near a makeshift camp where a large influx of Haitians had gathered in hopes of being granted asylum. 

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Abbott said the agents did nothing wrong, and if they are fired, “I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.”

Abbott’s remarks came several days after President Biden, calling the agents’ actions “outrageous,” said, “Those people will pay.”

Abbott placed the blame on the Biden administration, saying agents “wouldn’t have been in that situation had the Biden administration enforced the immigration laws.”

“If he takes any action against them whatsoever — I have worked side by side with those Border Patrol agents — I want them to know something,” Abbott said. “If they are risk of losing their job by a president who is abandoning his duty to secure the border, you have a job in the state of Texas. I will hire you to help Texas secure our border.”