How Task Forces Help Border Communities
WESLACO – A specialized law enforcement group caught a convicted killer after several years on the run.
It's a nationwide initiative. Here in the Valley, it's called the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Fugitive Task Force.
A different one operates in Laredo, but both have the same mission.
In the middle of his 2011 murder trial, Victor Manuel Palomo walked out during the lunch break and never came back.
Seven years later, the law caught up to him. Palomo was arrested in Nuevo Laredo and deported to the U.S. where they awaited him with handcuffs.
Prosecutors like Isidro Alaniz in Webb County rely on this collaboration.
"It just doesn't happen by luck," said Alaniz. "It happens through sharing information, working together, talking to sources, them gathering information from the street and following up on those leads."
Having criminals escaping to Mexico is a common affliction for law enforcement and prosecutors along the border.
Through a presidential act in 2000, federal, state and local law enforcement formed task forces to track and extradite fugitives under the U.S. Marshals.
Last year, the combined 60 task forces throughout the U.S. caught 84,048 fugitives.
They're successful, in part, to their strategy of leveraging resources from their partners explains Juan Lara, a Valley U.S. Deputy Marshal.
"Most of them, they're all going to be familiar with the area which is an advantage, two, they bring a wealth of knowledge of information that they have pertaining to these fugitives,” said Lara.
They work to find those who flee into Mexico and those who pose a danger to the community.
"Most of the people that enter this country from Mexico, per se, and they're conducting their activities here, a lot of times it could be related, directly or indirectly with the cartel. So then, of course, poses more of a danger and risk to the public,” Lara adds.
The task forces are made up of U.S. authorities, but District Attorney Alaniz credits the role of Mexican law enforcement in their recent arrest.
"No, the Mexican authorities they work independent of ours," he explained. "But we do share with them information. We have good working relationships with the federal agencies in Mexico. So, we cannot get that part of our job done without the cooperation of Mexican authorities."
Palomo is just one of three recent fugitives caught for Webb County through this task force many more are caught annually nationwide.
The task force helped process 780 international deportations, extraditions and expulsions in 2017.
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