Cartel Activity Prominent near Falcon Heights
FALCON HEIGHTS – A seizure made in Nueva Ciudad Guerrero across the Rio Grande from Falcon Heights over the weekend consisted of items belonging to a cartel group.
Cartel activity in this area is different from the one seen near the Rio Grande Valley or near Laredo.
The region is in the middle of a power struggle.
We visited Zapata County to see how local law enforcement is keeping the community safe.
From Reynosa to Matamoros, the Gulf Cartel is in charge of drug and human smuggling routes; from Zapata into Laredo, it's Cartel del Noreste, CDN.
A former FBI agent tells us these two groups are aligning themselves with other cartels and working to push the boundaries.
They're now a threat across the border from Falcon Heights.
According to law enforcement intel, a sicario, or a hit man, was recently arrested in Zapata.
It was the combined efforts of the Zapata Sheriff's and Border Patrol that made the arrest possible.
"We're constantly getting calls by Border Patrol to assist and vice versa. We call border patrol to assist us sometimes in helping us trying to identify people and stuff like that,” says Raymundo Del Bosque Jr., Chief Deputy Zapata County Sheriff's Office.
Del Bosque says they're making do with 14 deputies – that's five less than what the they think they need.
"Our sheriff sometimes has to answer to calls by himself south of town in Lopeño/Falcon area, because we're short staffed," he says.
Sometimes, those calls lead to seizures that reveal how resourceful criminals can be.
On September 23rd, Zapata County Sheriff's made a discovery after a drug bust.
They also found black metal plates in the closet that are heavy and coated in black paint.
Zapata Sheriff's Office says that they're used not only as armor for vehicles but also personal armor.
They believe criminals tape them across their chest, with another plate taped on the back.
Just for comparison, when matched with the Sheriff's rifle-resistant armor, the sizes of the plates made by the criminal element come very close to the actual size that is used by government officials.
The Zapata County Sheriff's Office is working to stay ahead.
The rifle-resistant bulletproof armor is new.
On Friday, $300,000 was received through operation stone garden.
The grants helped pay for body armor, equipment and overtime.
New budget adjustments will allow them to begin leasing new units soon.
The goal is to have 15 new units within the next two to three years.
They expect that will help keep their community and deputies safe.
"For us to know exactly what it is because we really don't want to walk into an ambush knowing that danger is out there and can happen at any time,” says Del Bosque.
For now, they're working to keep up and acknowledge the public is a huge part of their efforts.
They advise the public to gather as many details as they safely can, in a safe manner, when reporting suspicious activity, which helps law enforcement understand how to respond.