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DPS holds first weekly Operation Lone Star briefing

4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago Thursday, September 16 2021 Sep 16, 2021 September 16, 2021 8:57 AM September 16, 2021 in News - Local
By: Tanvi Varma, Photojournalist Marco Veccio

The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department held their first of what will be weekly media briefings to update the public on the progress of Operation Lone Star.

Gov. Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March as a response to the increase in illegal border crossings in Texas.

DPS officials said their presence in the Valley is much lighter than it once was, but that they are still seeing a significant amount of crime in parts of Starr and Hidalgo counties.

They added that they're here to help stop crime that comes with migrant traffic, since U.S. Customs and Border Protection is being spread thin. 

READ ALSO: Records: Operation Lone Star resulting in increases as high as 1,000% in minor citations for drivers in Starr County

DPS Regional Director Victor Escalon said they're already seeing a 44% increase in criminal pursuits in the Valley. 

Though their footprint in the Valley is much lighter, most of it moving up north to Val Verde County. 

Escalon said Starr County and parts of Hidalgo County remain heavy in drug trafficking activity. 

"Our Special Operation Group, USBP, took down 683 pounds of marijuana Sunday night in Starr County," Escalon said.  

DPS spokesman Lt. Christopher Olivarez says it costs $2.5 million per week to fund the operation. When asked about the recent dismissal of cases against dozens of migrants who had been arrested for trespassing - Olivarez says, that's on the prosecutors, not them.

"That's all dependent by what the county prosecutor is doing with the cases," Olivarez said.

Citation records after Operation Lone Star began in Starr County showed that that the highest increase in citations was for minor traffic violations. 

"A lot of times we see a criminal violation or a traffic violation and we're going to make a stop and take appropriate action," Escalon said.

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