National Guard Expected to Join Border Patrol in Zapata Sector
ZAPATA – The Laredo sector is expecting about 250 members of the National Guard following Pres. Trump’s order last week.
On Wednesday, CHANNEL 5 NEWS crews went to one of the most challenging areas to monitor activity.
Zapata resident Betty Soliz says life in the small town is tranquil. She says she takes a sense of adventure when out at Falcon Lake in her boat with members of her fishing club.
“You go out there, you forget your troubles! You just relax,” she tells us.
Soliz says she started the club after a shooting claimed a life out in the lake.
“We said, ‘Let’s form a fishing club, all ladies. Show them we’re not afraid to be on this lake,” she says.
She says she also feels safe because she knows there are Border Patrol agents out with them.
About 100 agents patrol the 900-square miles of land in Zapata and 60 miles of water. The sector is the second highest in the nation for performing rescues.
“The terrain has a lot do with it,” says Border Patrol Special Operations Supervisor Miguel Contreras.
He says there are no plans for a border wall system in the area where violence coming from Mexico has claimed lives.
A few years ago, U.S. citizen David Hartley and his wife were shot when they were on the Mexican side of the lake.
The woman survived, but Hartley was fatally shot.
Eight years later, the area remains a high-priority area for Border Patrol.
Falcon is not an area known for too much human smuggling.
“Falcon Lake is heavily exploited by the cartels. They actually utilize to smuggle narcotics for the most part to the U.S. from Mexico,” he explained.
Contreras says the sector is third in the nation for catching cocaine and marijuana. He says with the arrival of National Guard troops, they anticipate the amount they intercept can grow.
“Instead of having agents monitoring cameras, we could have somebody from the National Guard taking up that role and that would free up that agent to be able to patrol along the river,” he explains.
Border Patrol officials in Laredo are still discussing where the troops will be. They tell us Zapata will be part of that conversation.
It’s something Soliz says she welcomes.
“You know, it might help a little bit because of the drugs coming across,” she says. “It’s so easy for drugs to come across in Zapata.”
She says she still goes out on the lake always with her phone and Border Patrol contact list.
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