Police Chief Says Cooperation between Agencies Helping Starr Co. Special Crimes Unit

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RIO GRANDE CITY – A Starr County resident says law enforcement presence along the border makes him feel more comfortable.

A Laredo man wanted by the DEA is behind bars. Francisco Javier Mercado, 55, was wanted in Houston for money laundering.

The Star County Special Crimes Unit, a team that works to capture criminals off the streets who in the past may have been overlooked, picked him up behind a furniture store in Rio Grande City after he crossed over the border from Mexico.

Rio Grande City Police Chief Noe Castillo sits on the board of directors for the task force, along with police chiefs from La Grulla, Escobares, Roma, the Starr County Sherriff’s Department and the county attorney.

Castillo says they found Mercado because someone tipped them to a suspicious person in the area.

“He had several layers of clothing on his person,” he explained. “Apparently, he had just crossed, that’s what he had mentioned to the officer. And he was walking down the street. It’s dark.”

Castillo says good communication with local, state and federal agencies is helping the task force to put more people like Mercado away behind bars.

“We do share information and that has helped us get farther in law enforcement partnerships and what we do with everyone. It’s effective,” he said.

Abel Davila lives in the neighborhood and says the presence of law enforcement in the neighborhood is comforting to him when he lets his grandson outside to play, even with people crossing the river.

“When he sees them, he runs, you know. He comes inside the house real quick,” he said. “It’s life around here.”

Castillo tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS the task force doesn't receive any federal funding or extra money from city and county budgets.

He said in the last year, they've seized more than $130,000 in illegal items. Some of that money was used to help fund the task force.  


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