Mission Statement: The Southwest Border HIDTA West Texas Partnership's
mission is to dismantle the Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) in our region and to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States. We strive to make our area "unattractive" to DTOs via the development and coordination of intelligence, interdiction, investigative, forfeiture and prosecution initiatives.
Year of Designation: 1990
Geographic Area of Responsibility:
El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Reeves, Pecos, Jeff Davis, Presidio, Brewster, and Terrell counties.
The geographic area that comprises the West Texas Partnership adjoins 490 miles of international border including five of the busiest Ports of Entry (POE) on any US border. The primary routes for drug smuggling in the area are through the POEs via motor vehicles ranging from passenger cars to semi-trailers. Remote stretches of unregulated territory between the POEs are also vulnerable to drug trafficking. The El Paso International Airport, Interstate-10, which accesses both coasts, and rail companies are exploited by narcotics entrepreneurs as well. An extensively interconnected commercial and social infrastructure in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, and to a smaller scale Presidio, Texas and Ciudad Ojinaga, Mexico, provide drug trafficking organizations with innumerable methods of "masking" their illicit trade. Commerce between the two countries has been on the rise due to NAFTA and expected to continue. Increasing trade and corresponding traffic through the region will amplify the complexity of the region's drug threat.
Drug traffickers in the area are major, high-level international organizations with command and control components operating out of Mexico. Large-scale importation and trafficking of all types of drugs - predominantly cocaine, marijuana, and heroin - destined for major cities throughout the United State is the primary problem. El Paso is a hub for illicit drug distribution and money laundering systems. Cocaine seizures on the United States side of the border have doubled since 1997 and continue to rise. Marijuana seizures along the El Paso border continue to be among the largest in the country. Heroin seizures also continue to grow. Drug trafficking organizations are sophisticated and wealthy enough to avoid law enforcement efforts to curtail money-laundering activities. Internal and external power struggles to control the Juarez Cartel unleashed an unprecedented wave of violence in Ciudad Juarez and Ojinaga, Mexico. Corruption on both sides of the border assists the drug trafficking organizations in advancing their illicit trade.
The West Texas Partnership encompasses nine west Texas counties that adjoin 490 miles of international border with Mexico. The counties were designated in 1990 as part of the Southwest Border HIDTA. The West Texas Partnership Executive Committee is comprised of 3 local, 1 state, and 6 federal law enforcement leaders in the West Texas Partnership area of responsibility. A unified approach between law enforcement and prosecution agencies facilitates regional efforts to stem the flow of drugs entering the United States for distribution. A total of 20 federal, state, and local agencies cooperatively participate in 11 multi-agency initiatives. The administrative component is located in El Paso. Three of the four nodes, comprising the intelligence backbone of the Partnership, are also co-located in El Paso. The fourth node, the Texas Narcotics Information System, is a statewide multi-Partnership initiative located in Austin, TX. Six investigative initiatives target the major drug trafficking organizations, and their components, operating in the region. This includes the transportation organizations, money laundering organizations, the transient traffickers, and the fugitives related to drug trafficking. Three interdiction initiatives target the Ports of Entry, the use of wide-open territory throughout the region, and the prolific use of stash houses to accumulate and ship large quantities of drugs throughout the country. The prosecution initiative enhances enforcement efforts by ensuring the prosecution of narcotics traffickers.
Investigative Support Center:
The Investigative Support Center (ISC) is the intelligence hub of the West Texas Partnership. Led by the El Paso County Sheriff's Department, it provides one stop shopping for all intelligence and analytical work required by Partnership participants. Event and case deconfliction services are automated systems providing full-time access. All available database systems are accessed through the ISC. Distributing a monthly bulletin, hosting information sharing meetings, and Intranet connectivity, facilitates communication with all drug law enforcement. The ISC is a coordination center that refers various service requests to the appropriate intelligence node or agency. The Criminal Intelligence Squad (CIS), a FBI led component, provides strategic, post-seizure and predictive analysis support. The CIS targets various drug trafficking organizations and provides actionable investigative leads to the appropriate initiatives. Source documentation is obtained from all law enforcement agencies in the region and through covert and overt investigative methods. The Field Division Intelligence Group (FDIG), a DEA led component, provides tactical analysis support. The FDIG also develops historical case investigations for dissemination to the appropriate initiative, and provides case analytical support for ongoing investigations to all agencies and initiatives in the West Texas Partnership. The Texas Narcotics Information System (TNIS), a Texas Department of Public Safety led initiative, provides connectivity between the West Texas Partnership and nation-wide federal, regional and state databases. TNIS also provides some analytical and predictive analysis support and is a database repository for the agencies in our region. The TNIS program is a statewide initiative funded by three Partnership regions in the State of Texas.
Initiatives that were approved to implement the 2000 Southwest Border HIDTA West Texas Partnership Strategy include:
- West Texas Partnership Intelligence Initiativefour multi-agency components make up the intelligence support system for program operational units, offering full-range analytical services, including criminal and commercial data base queries, deconfliction and pointer index services; development and dissemination of strategic and tactical information; and post seizure and predictive analysis.
- Alpine Multi-Agency Partnership Task Forcea collocated, multi-agency task force that investigates high level drug smuggling involving major international drug traffickers operating in the Alpine area, which encompasses seven counties and 350 miles of international border.
- El Paso Multi-Agency Task Forcea collocated, multi-agency task force that identifies and targets the highest levels of major drug trafficking organizations using the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez corridor as a staging point for the distribution of narcotics throughout the United States.
- Operation Hijacka collocated, multi-agency task force that targets high level bulk drug transportation organizations who exploit the international El Paso/Ciudad Juarez air and land corridor of entry by transporting drugs from Mexico into designated hubs of distribution in the United States; and repatriating drug proceeds to Mexico.
- Southwest Fugitive/Violent Offender Task Forcea collocated, multi-agency task force that identifies, locates, and apprehends fugitives who continue to be involved in drug smuggling activities.
- West Texas Financial Disruption Task Forcea collocated, multi-agency task force that uses interdiction and investigations to target the criminal's asset and attempts to use federal and state seizure laws for confiscation.
- West Texas Partnership Hotel/Motel Task Forcea collocated, multi-agency task force that targets the transient narcotics traffickers that come into the West Texas area to conduct narcotics transactions.
- Operation Lone Starparticipation from several federal, state, and local agencies combine resources and enforcement operations to "target harden" the rural border and checkpoint areas between Ports of Entry (POEs).
- West Texas Partnership Smuggling Initiativea multi-agency task force that uses investigations and intelligence to target drug smuggling transportation cells and "target harden" efforts at POEs.
- West Texas Partnership Stash-house Task Forcea multi-agency task force that identifies and targets stash-houses in the El Paso area, and seize large quantities of narcotics and arrest drug traffickers in order to stem the flow of narcotics into the country and to disrupt the activities of narcotics organizations.
- West Texas Partnership Prosecution InitiativeDistrict Attorneys coordinate with participating agencies to better assess prosecutorial strategies, intensify use of state grand jury system, promote asset seizures, and enhance coordination of federal, state, and local interactive protocol.
- West Texas Partnership Administrationconducts day-to-day Partnership business for the Executive Committee and the initiatives in the most professional and effective manner and meets all ONDCP required actions.
The West Texas Partnership makes a tremendous impact on disrupting drug trafficking along the border. In 1999, West Texas Partnership funded initiatives accounted for 38% of all cocaine seizures (6,892 kg), 69% of all marijuana seizures (197,214 kg), and 73% of all heroin seizures (13.48 kg). More than $250 million in agency resources are leveraged toward the drug threat through disbursement of only $7.5 million in Partnership funds. In 1998, West Texas Partnership initiatives resulted in the initiation of 18 OCDETF investigations. Many of these investigations were ongoing throughout 1999. West Texas Partnership initiatives also added 14 more OCDETF cases to their workloads in 1999. Without Partnership funds, the state and local agencies could not participate in counter-narcotics enforcement except to address localized street-level problems. West Texas Partnership brings an innovative element to drug law enforcement. The ideas from two innovative initiatives of the West Texas Partnership have been duplicated and applied in many other cities. The Hotel/Motel Task Force was the first to utilize the eyes and ears of hotel staff for identifying transient drug traffickers staying in their hotels. The Stash House Task Force took this idea one step further, and integrated the tenets of community policing to identify and dismantle stash houses located throughout the community. The West Texas Partnership provides case and event deconfliction services to law enforcement agencies, a service never before achieved in this area. The level of information sharing and cooperation is at an unprecedented high due to the Partnership program's emphasis on multi-agency participation and intelligence subsystems.
Federal: Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Defense Joint Task Force Six, National Parks Service, United States Attorney's Office, United States Border Patrol, United States Customs Service, United States Marshal Service
State: Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Office of the Attorney General, Texas National Guard, Texas Department of Fish and Game, Texas State CORE Program
Local: Alpine Police Department, Brewster County Sheriff's Office, Culberson County Sheriff's Office, El Paso County Sheriff's Department, El Paso Police Department, Jeff Davis County Sheriff's Office, Presidio County Sheriff's Office, Marfa Police Department, Socorro Police Department, 34th Judicial District of Texas
Other: El Paso Intelligence Center, El Paso County Metro Narcotics Task Force
Information is provided by the Southwest Border Partnership West Texas Partnership.