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Gov. Perry: Smugglers Will Lose Their License and Their Livelihood

Press Release

Location: Austin, TX

Gov. Perry: Smugglers Will Lose Their License and Their Livelihood

DPS, Border Patrol to Work Together to Stop Drug, Weapons and Human Trafficking

Gov. Rick Perry announced today that the state, working in concert with the U.S. Border Patrol, will begin cracking down on commercial truckers who knowingly smuggle illegal weapons, drugs or humans across the Texas-Mexico border.

Perry directed the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to work with Border Patrol, in an initiative dubbed Texas Hold "Em, to revoke the commercial driver licenses of those convicted of felony smuggling.

"The vast majority of Texas truckers are law-abiding citizens who work incredibly long hours to feed their families and keep our economy moving," Perry said. "But there are those who are breaking the law to make a quick buck. And to those law breakers, we are sending the message: If you knowingly smuggle goods across the Texas border, you will lose your license and your livelihood."

Texas border security operations have put mounting pressure on Mexican crime cartels and other crime organizations to find alternate ways of smuggling contraband into the state. This includes recruiting commercial drivers to transport contraband, including drugs and humans, across the border in return for bribes.

Due to these increased illegal recruitment efforts, Border Patrol recognized the need to establish a process ensuring DPS receives the necessary court documents to suspend violators' driver licenses upon a felony smuggling conviction. As part of Gov. Perry's ongoing efforts to secure our border through coordinated state-federal efforts, he has instructed DPS to work with Border Patrol to enforce this law.

In the first eight months of fiscal year 2008, Border Patrol agents in Texas intercepted 423 tractor trailers resulting in the detainment of more than 1,800 undocumented immigrants and more than 112,000 pounds of illegal drugs. In the Laredo area, 330 truck drivers have been caught smuggling drugs or humans into Texas in the last 18 months.

"This joint initiative is another step in securing our border against all-threats," said Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar. "Together with our shared-mission partners, we will continue to take away the means by which smugglers try to put the American way of life at risk."

"DPS, in cooperation with the U.S. Border Patrol, is pleased to have established this process for reporting felony convictions for commercial drivers who have committed felonies by transporting drugs and/or undocumented aliens in a commercial vehicle," said Chief of DPS Driver License Division Judy Brown. "Taking action to revoke the privilege of these drivers will further assist our efforts to increase safety on the public roadways and to increase the security of our nation's border."

The Texas Hold "Em initiative includes:

* Revoking CDL privileges for felony convictions
* Increasing awareness of smuggling penalties
* Initiating a public service announcement campaign and
* Creating a "Tipster" Hotline and offering rewards for information leading to felony smuggling convictions

Texas Hold "Em is a permanent program that will serve as a standard operating procedure across all five border sectors within the state. The Border Patrol is also actively pursuing similar agreements with other states to expand the program nationwide.

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