Gov. Perry: Border Security Council to Hold Public Meetings in Border Communities
Operation Border Star ongoing along the border region
Gov. Rick Perry today announced the first meetings of the newly-appointed Border Security Council, October 1-3, 2007. The meetings will take place in border communities, offering a public forum for testimony relating to strengthening safety and security in the Texas-Mexico border region and areas statewide. The meetings will occur during the first phase of the State of Texas' newest border security surge, Operation Border Star.
"Texans know that border-related crime is not isolated to the border region. All Texans, and all Americans, are affected by the smuggling of drugs and humans as they make their way across the Texas-Mexico border and into our communities," said Perry. "The Border Security Council will play an important role in helping the state coordinate efficient and effective strategies to create a stronger law enforcement presence along the border to prevent and deter criminal activity."
The Border Security Council focuses on homeland security and economic development along the Texas-Mexico Border. Created in Senate Bill 11 during the 80th Legislative Session, the council is responsible for developing and recommending performance standards, reporting requirements and audit methods for funds allocated to the Office of the Governor for border security. The council also advises Governor Perry on the allocation of homeland security funds.
In coordination with the United States Border Patrol, the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition, the Coastal Bend Sheriffs Coalition and border area police departments, the State of Texas launched Operation Border Star in mid-September. This operation is a unified high intensity, multi-agency effort focused on reducing crime in targeted regions along the Texas-Mexico border. The operation will continue for a time period that will remain undisclosed for operational security purposes.
Operation Border Star draws resources from across the state to support the U.S. Border Patrol, including local law enforcement; Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, criminal intelligence personnel and Texas Rangers; Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens; and Texas Military Forces personnel and equipment, including fixed wing aircrafts, and a large arsenal of helicopters with night vision capabilities.
To date, 11,095 pounds of marijuana, 35.4 pounds of cocaine and 7.4 pounds of methamphetamine have been seized as a result of Operation Border Star. Additionally, 170 illegal aliens have been arrested, including three members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, which is considered the fastest-growing and most violent street gang in the nation today. More importantly, organized smuggling activities have decreased since this operation began. Law enforcement agencies have reported a reduction in the number of calls they have received for assistance, which reflect complaints received from the public to report suspicious or criminal activity. During periods of low smuggling activity, the number of calls decreases.
In support of this operation, the U.S. Border Patrol is hosting Joint Operation Intelligence Centers (JOIC) in each of the five Texas Border Sectors. The establishment of JOICs will enable participating law enforcement entities to maximize the effect of enforcement personnel and resources, while facilitating information sharing. Through this cohesive law enforcement effort, criminal activity with a direct nexus to the Texas-Mexico border will be reduced and higher levels of border security instilled.
"By joining together with our local, state and federal partners, we will support the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol, and protect our communities by dominating the border," Perry said. "While securing our international borders is ultimately the responsibility of the federal government, Texas can and will assist in that effort to maximize its effect."
This operation will be substantially expanded during the next year with guidance from the Texas Border Security Council and more than $100 million provided by the 80th Texas Legislature for continued border security efforts.