Southwest Border HIDTA
South Texas Partnership
Mission Statement: Measurably diminish drug trafficking thereby reducing the impact of illicit drugs in this and other areas of the country. Specific goals include the reduction of regional drug trafficking, money laundering activities, drug-related crime, drug availability, drug-related public corruption, as well as the identification and prosecution of drug trafficking organization leaders while increasing counterdrug intelligence exchange.
|Year of Designation: 1990
|Geographic area of Responsibility:
||Bexar, Cameron, Dimmit, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Kinney, La Salle, Maverick, Starr, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, Zapata, and Zavala counties
The South Texas Partnership is one of the five partnerships comprising the Southwest Border (SWB) HIDTA. The region received its HIDTA designation due to the high level of illicit drugs imported into and distributed from the region throughout the United States. More than 23,000 square miles covering 14 counties form the South Texas Partnership. A 647-mile portion of the Rio Grande River marks the southern South Texas Partnership boundary and its border with Mexico. Approximately 70 miles of Gulf of Mexico intercoastal waterways form the eastern border of the designated region. Approximately 6 million people inhabit the region comprising the South Texas Partnership and Mexican cities bordering the Rio Grande River.
The Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) in the region support the illegal importation and distribution of international and national DTO supplied illicit drugs. Drug origins are primarily Mexico, Central and South America. Major drugs seized include methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana. Drug volume seizures in 1999 grew more than 105 percent from 1998. South Texas assets and US currency seized during 1999 totaled more than $20 million dollars, an increase of 77.3 percent from 1998.
Major Northern Mexico highways lead to major South Texas Ports of Entry (POE) and the US interstate system in Texas for transport of imported illicit drugs throughout the United States. The South Texas POE are among the busiest in the nation. The Laredo, Texas POE is the busiest cargo land POE in the United States. High traffic levels resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement play a significant role in illicit drug trafficking. Smugglers attempt to use POE traffic to mask illicit drug transportation. In 1999, 64 percent of the drug volume the Drug Enforcement Administration reported in their Domestic Drug Removal Statistics represents the amount seized within the South Texas HIDTA.
Six federal, one state, and four local Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) members comprise the South Texas Executive Committee (EXCOM). The EXCOM developed Strategy depends on LEA members from 43 federal, state, and local agencies to reduce illicit drug availability within the region, and thus the nation. The EXCOM meets quarterly, as directed by the mutually approved charter, to discuss and evaluate South Texas Partnership achievements and direction. Interdiction, intelligence, investigations, and prosecution efforts form the Strategy tenants. A centralized Deconfliction Center supports operations across the region. The counterdrug strategy uses a central intelligence center with remote initiative cells to provide tactical and or strategic support.
The EXCOM consolidates task forces into single area initiatives when appropriate. Consolidation allows key LEA leaders to better manage area resources for specific needs. Initiatives in McAllen, Laredo, and San Antonio include task forces with interdiction, investigative, intelligence, and or prosecution efforts. Brownsville, Eagle Pass, and Del Rio task forces focus on investigative efforts. Brownsville, McAllen, and Laredo each have intelligence task forces or cells supporting the overall intelligence exchange centralized in San Antonio. The South Texas Partnership Deconfliction is managed by the San Antonio Intelligence Center. The Texas Narcotics Intelligence System (TNIS) Analyst Section is headquartered in Austin. The Southwest Border HIDTA's South Texas and West Texas Partnerships plus the North Texas and Houston HIDTAs each benefit from the assets of this jointly funded initiative. The EXCOM strategy directs allegations of drug-related public corruption be investigated from a central McAllen location with cells in Brownsville and Laredo.
Investigative Support Center:
The South Texas Partnership Information Support resources provide for the mutual development and exchange of counterdrug related intelligence. The South Texas HIDTA Intelligence Center, located in San Antonio, is the focal point for South Texas intelligence support. The South Texas HIDTA Intelligence Center also develops the Southwest Border HIDTA South Texas Partnership's Annual Threat Assessment for the EXCOM and manages the Deconfliction Center for event and case deconfliction to maximize officer safety. Limited organic analytical support is available in each initiative or task force. Intelligence and deconfliction support is routinely provided by the South Texas HIDTA Intelligence Center 14-hours a day, five days a week. However, surge capability is available 24-hours a day on an as needed, case by case basis. Event and or subject deconfliction use in 1999 increased 148 per cent over 1998. South Texas HIDTA Intelligence Center overall reported outputs increased 11 per cent over 1998.
The South Texas Partnership provides the intelligence avenues for counterdrug information collection, analysis, fusion, reporting, and processing within the region. Local, State and Federal resources are located within San Antonio, Brownsville, McAllen, and Laredo. The Brownsville, McAllen, and Laredo intelligence task forces or cells provide for near real-time tactical as well as limited strategic counterdrug support. Long-term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task
Force (OCDETF) case support is provided by each intelligence resource in the South Texas Partnership. The OCDETF assists increased 400 per cent in 1999 over 1998 in the region.
The Texas Department of Public Safety TNIS and Analysis Section provides for the connectivity and or access to multiple databases within the South Texas Partnership, other HIDTA designated counties in the State of Texas, and the nation.
Initiatives that were approved to implement the 2000 Southwest Border HIDTA South Texas Partnership Strategy include:
- Brownsville HIDTA Investigative Task Forcea collocated, multi-agency, joint task force designed to identify, disrupt and or dismantle internationally affiliated DTO with national and or regional ties within the region. Targeted organizations maintain close ties with local smugglers to introduce illegal drugs into or through this area of Texas. Reduction of illicit drug importation, distribution, transportation, and asset forfeitures is an objective of the task force. Investigations and intelligence exchange play key roles in the success of this task force.
- Eagle Pass Multi-Agency SWB HIDTA Investigative Task Forcea collocated, multi-agency, joint task force designed for interdiction, investigation, prosecution, and seizure of illegal drugs and related monetary gains in the counties of Maverick, Val Verde, and Kinney. Participants bring to prosecution those DTO members involved in the growing, manufacturing, importation, distribution, and transportation of illicit drugs to and through the region. Drugs removed via this region reduce the available drugs destined for transport to major metropolitan areas across the United States.
- South Texas HIDTA Del Rio Task Forcea collocated, multi-agency, joint task force directed to perform investigations, limited interdiction, and collect drug-related information. The task force supports information collection for exchange with HIDTA initiatives. It brings to prosecution those DTO, with illicit drugs destined for metropolitan markets across the nation, operating within the Del Rio area of operations. The task force exchanges intelligence leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of OCDETF and drug-related money laundering organizations.
- South Texas HIDTA Laredo Initiativean initiative collocated in Laredo for the best management of resources committed to support the area's commingled multi-agency joint task forces. The initiative consists of four collocated, commingled, multi-agency, joint task forces targeting major international DTO with regional ties. The focus is the reduction of imported and transported illicit drugs and related money-laundering activities. A task force also performs information collection to support the South Texas Intelligence Center intelligence process.
- South Texas HIDTA McAllen Initiativean initiative collocated in McAllen to maximize management and the close coordination of the area's commingled, multi-agency, joint task forces. The initiative consists of four collocated multi-agency joint task forces working against internationally backed DTO operating in and through the Hidalgo County area. The initiative is to measurably impact the illicit DTO organization's illegal importation, transportation, and associated monetary gains. The task forces consolidate resources to
support interdiction, intelligence development and exchange, investigations, and prosecutions.
- South Texas HIDTA San Antonio Initiativean initiative collocated in San Antonio to manage the metropolitan area's four commingled, multi-agency, joint task forces. The task forces measurably reduce the illicit drug importation, transportation, and related monetary gains for internationally associated and nationally tied DTO in the area. Task forces use interdiction, intelligence, and investigations to support OCDETF and other drug-related prosecutions. A strong controlled delivery focus for out of state regions assists greatly in the reduction of DTO across the nation.
- Unity Task Forcea collocated, multi-agency, joint task force tasked to identify, dismantle and or disrupt internationally tied DTO originating in or through this border region of Texas. A significant number of interdiction and or investigative methods are used to disrupt and reduce land and water born illicit drug operations in the area. The task force reduces the nations illicit drugs due to the illegal drug importation, transportation, and related money laundering operations through this region.
- South Texas Multi-Agency Drug Related Public Corruption Task Forceoperating from McAllen but with cells in Laredo and McAllen, this commingling, multi-agency, joint task force focuses on drug-related, public corruption investigations. Public officials include Federal, State, and or local law enforcement, elected, appointed or related public office holders. An objective is to insure public trust and faith is maintained or restored in their governmental representatives or employees. Use intelligence obtained to support the dismantling and or disruption of identified DTO within the region.
- South Texas HIDTA Intelligence Centera collocated and commingled multi-agency joint initiative that collects, analyzes, reports, and processes drug-related information into usable strategic or tactical intelligence. Normal hours of operation are five day a week, 12-hours a day. Surge capabilities exist for seven day a week, 24-hour a day support on a case by case basis. Provides for the overall communications connectivity to all South Texas Partnership initiatives and or task forces. The initiative also manages the South Texas Partnership Deconfliction effort.
- Unified Narcotics Intelligence Task Force (UNIT)a collocated, multi-agency, joint intelligence task force that provides near real-time, tactical intelligence support for multiple initiatives and task forces within the southern sector of Texas. Drug-related information is collected, analyzed, and processed for support of on-going investigations and prosecution efforts. This task force supports requests for OCDETF, other drug-related cases and in-depth local and regional intelligence targets. This task force provides on-site analytical support for the South Texas McAllen Initiative.
- Texas Narcotics Intelligence System/Analyst Sectiona database access and communications system designed to support counterdrug operations across Texas. Commingled with collocated, multi-agency, joint task forces across the state, the section provides strategic and near real-time analytical support for the Houston HIDTA, North Texas HIDTA, and the Southwest Border HIDTA South and West Texas Partnership functions. Drug-related interdiction activities, investigations, prosecutions, and OCDETF cases are supported by this section. The communication system permits access to other LEA databases across the SWB and the nation.
- South Texas HIDTA Director's Administrative Support Elementa collocated EXCOM support element. The element develops, supports, and maintains automation plus programmatic and fiscal administration requirement to respond to the needs of each initiative and or task force budgetary, intelligence, operational, and logistical requirements within the South Texas Partnership EXCOM area of oversight. Provide liaison as needed with all necessary LEA.
In 1999, South Texas Partnership seized 48 percent (136,182 kilograms) more drugs than it did in 1998. The amount of drug related US currency seized increased by over 25 percent ($4,193,088) from 1998. These dramatic seizure increases caused illicit drug trafficking organizations to begin altering their modes of operations across the region. Returns from asset forfeitures reduce the local cost of removing drugs from the streets. The returns assist in implementing community drug demand reduction efforts. Therefore, the South Texas Partnership is indirectly addressing both the demand reduction efforts and illicit drug supply issues within its region. Public opinion surveys, as reported by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, indicate law enforcement agencies are removing more drugs from the streets and thus providing for safer communities. Law enforcement controlled deliveries to destinations outside of Texas are removing a growing number of DTO operatives within Texas and across the nation. South Texas Partnership interdiction efforts have documented DTO changes in operations due to these efforts. Intelligence, interdiction, and investigative efforts have reduced DTO within the region by almost 10 percent. Subject and or event deconfliction system use across the region increased by 148 percent, thus reducing the officer safety concerns. Federal and state agencies have committed additional resources to the South Texas Partnership intelligence, interdiction, and investigative support due to successes within the region. The South Texas Partnership outcomes support the HIDTA's Threat Assessment and EXCOM Strategy.
Federal: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice, The Office of the Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, Department of Defense Joint Task Force Six, United States Attorney's Office Southern District of Texas, United States Attorney's Office Western District of Texas, United States Border Patrol, United States Customs Service, United States Customs Service Internal Affairs, United States Marshals Service
State: Texas Adjutant General's Office, Texas Department of Banking, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas National Guard, and Texas Rangers
Local: Bexar County Sheriff's Office, Brownsville Police Department, Cameron County Sheriff's Office, Cameron County District Attorney's Office, Eagle Pass Police Department, Harlingen Police Department, Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office, Hidalgo County District Attorney's Office, Laredo Police Department, La Salle County Sheriff's Office, Leon Valley Police Department, Kinney County Sheriff's Office, Maverick County District Attorney's Office, Mission Police Department, Pharr Police Department, San Antonio Police Department, Starr County District Attorney's Office, Val Verde County Sheriff's Office, Webb County District Attorney's Office, Webb County Constable's Office, Weslaco Police Department, Zapata County District Attorney's Office, Zapata County Sheriff's Office, 25th Judicial District Task Force, and 81st Judicial District Task Force
Information is provided by the Southwest Border HIDTA South Texas Partnership.