The navigable waters of the Rio Grande could be better secured against violent drug cartels and human smugglers by a beefed-up deployment of Coast Guard patrol boats, Congressman John Carter (R-TX31) told state legislators today in Austin.
"These waters are key to securing our borders against the spillover of drug cartel violence," says Carter, "and anything the House can do to strengthen the enforcement partnership between the Border Patrol and Coast Guard should be done. From fast pursuit craft that can keep up with high-powered smuggling boats on our border lakes, to fan boats that can provide a rapid response on shallow river waters, we need to move those assets into place immediately."
Carter continued his nearly year-long push to deploy additional Coast Guard assets on the Rio Grande from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Amistad outside Del Rio, while visiting with officials at the State Capitol.
Last week Carter grilled Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher and Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft during hearings before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on the prospect of strengthened Coast Guard forces on the river and on Falcon Lake and Lake Amistad. Both major inland bodies of water formed by the Rio Grande have been the scene of repeated drug smuggling by boat, while American David Hartley was shot to death on Falcon Lake last year by suspected drug cartel gunmen.
Carter ordered a field investigation of conditions of all border counties from Falcon Lake to El Paso last summer, from which the former Texas judge authored multiple legislative recommendations. The Carter border report called for improved pursuit capabilities on area lakes and rivers, and new joint law enforcement centers in Lake Amistad and Big Bend National Parks, to better support Border Patrol, Coast Guard, and National Park law enforcement officers conducting joint security operations on the Rio Grande.