Limited Resources Restrict Border Security Efforts

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WESLACO - Several federal agencies who guard the U.S.-Mexico border said their work sometimes seems not to be enough.

Drug cartels work to get their product across the border. Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard and Homeland Security Investigations work to stop them.

Coast Guard Vice Admiral Charles Ray said the Coast Guard’s territory helps them attack “criminal networks where they are most vulnerable.”

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reported on their patrols two years ago. We also witnessed guardsmen stopping smugglers along the coast.

However, Ray said they’re not always lucky. It’s the reason why both agencies requested lawmakers to help fight what they call a dangerous enemy.

“Resource constraints and the lack of capable surface assets allow the U.S. Coast Guard to only attack or target 30 percent of the known cases,” he said.

Ray said fewer resources only allowed them to respond to 580 smuggling cases in 2016.

On land, HSI Investigator Matt Allen said even though marijuana still makes its way across the border, another drug is growing in popularity.

“Mexican-produced heroin has become the most significant drug consumed in the United States. The purity of Mexican-produced makes it marketable because it can be smoked or snorted, as well as inject intravenously,” he said.

Allen said manpower is key in slowing down the cartels.

“The president’s executive orders, which call for 10,000 more ICE employees, some of those, I think if the Secretary gets his way, will be special agents and we, our plan, would be to deploy some of those outside the United States,” he said.

Allen said agents would likely go to Mexico. He said it would be their move in the constant chess match with cartels.

“The cartels have adapted their methods and their cargo to the local environment. From an operation point of view, this means there is not a single strategy, tactic or technology that will succeed in eliminating the threat on every part of the southwest border,” he said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration released a map which shows which cartels have extended their influence to our side of the border. It also shows which cities have a cartel presence. 


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