Texas DPS Touts Success of Border Crime, Vehicle Safety Initiative

October 28, 2013

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced that a multi-agency law enforcement initiative, dubbed Operation Strong Safety, that targeted crime, unsafe commercial vehicles and unsafe driving practices has been successful.

The operation temporarily increased the patrol presence in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) area from Sept. 15 – Oct. 4

During the three-week initiative in the Rio Grande Valley, DPS coordinated with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to increase river, air and road patrols to address significant criminal activity, including human smuggling and trafficking, drug smuggling, stash house operations and home invasions.

This increased patrol presence resulted in the following activity reported by law enforcement, which compares the three-week operation to the three weeks prior, in Cameron, Hidalgo, Kenedy, Starr and Willacy counties:

  • 49 percent decrease in marijuana seizures
  • 42 percent decrease in cocaine seizures
  • 95 percent decrease in methamphetamine seizures
  • 185 percent increase in U.S. currency seizures
  • 67 percent increase in recovery of stolen vehicles
  • 74 percent decrease in felony pursuits
  • 31 percent decrease in Operation Drawbridge camera detections
  • Four home invasion suspects arrested

DPS also increased commercial vehicle enforcement to address commercial vehicle traffic – such as 18-wheelers and dump trucks – in the area, resulting in:

  • 177 unsafe vehicles taken out of service
  • 44 unsafe drivers taken out of service

Additionally, 134 commercial vehicle drivers were arrested as smugglers by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (as part of the Texas Hold ’Em program) during the three weeks of Operation Strong Safety. Those individuals’ commercial driver licenses will be revoked for one year for a first felony conviction; and revoked for life for two or more felony convictions, or for transporting narcotics.

During the three-week period, DPS conducted 12 traffic regulatory checkpoints to increase compliance with driver license, insurance, vehicle safety and registration requirements.

Of the 1,705 vehicles DPS stopped, troopers issued 281 citations and 249 warnings for driver license, liability insurance, vehicle registration or inspection violations; and 29 arrests were made for outstanding warrants at the regulatory checkpoints.

Additionally, there was a 13 percent increase in driver license transactions at area driver license offices, including new and renewal driver licenses, during the initiative compared to the three weeks prior.

Area traffic crashes also decreased by 18 percent during the operation as compared to the three weeks prior, while injury crashes decreased by 20 percent and fatality crashes by 25 percent.

Regulatory checkpoints were never used to ascertain immigration status, so no immigration arrests were made at any checkpoints. Moreover, U.S. Border Patrol was not involved in this aspect of the initiative.

DPS will continue to conduct surge operations along the Texas-Mexico border as necessary to specifically combat increases in Mexican cartel drug and human smuggling activity and related criminal activity, such as felony pursuits, stash houses and home invasions.

Key agencies that coordinated with DPS in this law enforcement effort included the Hidalgo County Constables Precincts 3 & 4, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, Starr County Sheriff’s Office, Mission Police Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Texas National Guard, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Source: Texas DPS

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