Operation Lone Star Bolsters Historic Border Security Mission In 2023

December 29, 2023 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the Texas National Guard continue to work together to secure the border; stop the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people into Texas; and prevent, detect, and interdict transnational criminal activity between ports of entry.

Texas has bused:

  • Over 12,500 migrants to Washington, D.C. since April 2022
  • Over 33,600 migrants to New York City since August 2022
  • Over 28,000 migrants to Chicago since August 2022
  • Over 3,400 migrants to Philadelphia since November 2022
  • Over 13,800 migrants to Denver since May 18
  • Over 1,300 migrants to Los Angeles since June 14

Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps created by the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border. Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Joe Biden’s open border policies.


Governor Abbott Announces New Texas Border Czar Mike Banks

In January, Governor Abbott announced the new position of Texas Border Czar to oversee border security in President Biden's absence at a press conference on a Texas border wall construction site in San Benito. Mike Banks serves as Special Advisor on Border Matters to the Governor and as the State of Texas' first-ever Border Czar. 

“As an award-winning Border Patrol Agent, with decades of federal law enforcement and border security experience, Mike is the perfect choice to oversee Texas' fight against the surge of illegal immigration, lethal drugs, and deadly weapons flowing into our state and nation,” said Governor Abbott.

Texas National Guard Expands Operation Lone Star Efforts To West Texas

The Texas National Guard expanded its Operation Lone Star mission to El Paso in response to the unprecedented number of illegal border crossings in the area earlier this year. The Texas Air National Guard provided four C-130J Hercules aircraft to expedite movement of personnel and vehicles to the far western region, with tactical troop movements also occurring across Texas.

“I am so impressed with the OLS staff, as well as with soldiers from Task Force West,” said Maj. Gen. Ronald “Win” Burkett, Operation Lone Star Commanding Officer. “Over 400 personnel and 40 vehicles were repositioned in El Paso within a 72-hour time frame.” 

El Paso operations are now an ongoing focus of Texas' efforts to secure the Texas-Mexico border. 

WATCH: DPS Busts Fentanyl Lab In Houston Disguised As Car Rental Business

On January 30, DPS raided a fentanyl pill lab—disguised as a car rental business—in Houston. Inside the facility, DPS discovered pill press machines, more than 17 lbs. of possible fentanyl precursors from China, suspected counterfeit Xanax pills laced with fentanyl, and fentanyl-laced Oxycodone. Authorities also found cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine pills, a stolen vehicle, three pistols, and a rifle.

Governor Abbott Deploys New Texas Tactical Border Force

In May, Governor Abbott announced the deployment of the new Texas Tactical Border Force to the Texas-Mexico border to respond to the growing border crisis.

With President Biden ending Title 42, the Governor enhanced Texas’ unprecedented border security efforts with the tactical deployment of hundreds of Texas National Guard soldiers to join the thousands already deployed as part of Operation Lone Star and serve on the new border force for targeted responses as the nation braced for a spike in illegal immigration.

Governor Abbott Signs Package Of Border Security Bills, Deploys Marine Barriers

Governor Abbott signed a series of border security legislation passed during the 88th Regular Legislative Session into law at the Texas Capitol on June 8. This package of six bills expanded Texas' unprecedented efforts to hold the line and protect Texans from the record level of illegal immigration, weapons, and deadly drugs pouring into Texas from Mexico caused by President Biden's refusal to secure the border.

Governor Abbott also announced the deployment of new marine floating barriers to deter illegal crossings in hotspots along the Rio Grande River to proactively prevent illegal crossings between ports of entry.

DPS Brush Teams Arrest 41 Illegal Immigrants On Private Property In Eagle Pass

In June, DPS Brush Teams in Eagle Pass arrested 41 illegal immigrants from Venezuela after crossing the Rio Grande River and stepping onto private property. The individuals ignored troopers' warnings not to enter and all were charged with criminal trespass.

WATCH: Human Smuggler In Stolen 18-Wheeler Leads DPS On High-Speed Pursuit

A smuggler driving a stolen 18-wheeler led DPS troopers on a high-speed pursuit in La Salle County on June 17. During the pursuit, the Frio County Sheriff’s Office successfully deployed a tire deflation device, and the driver crashed into several signs and an electrical pole before bailing out.

DPS found 18 illegal immigrants inside the cab of the truck. All were referred to Border Patrol. 

Governors Abbott, Noem, Pillen, Reynolds, Stitt Band Together To Secure Border

In August, Governor Abbott held a press conference in Eagle Pass with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to provide an update on their joint efforts under Texas' Operation Lone Star to respond to President Biden's reckless open border policies. The border visit came after Governor Abbott sent letters to America's Governors in May requesting support for Texas’ border security mission following President Biden's decision to end Title 42.

In total, 14 states—Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming—have stepped up to support Texas' efforts and deployed personnel and resources to secure the border in President Biden's absence.

Operation Lone Star Secures Fronton Island From Ruthless Mexican Cartels

In November, Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers secured Fronton Island in the Rio Grande River to gain operational control and prevent cross-border criminal activity from Mexican cartels.

The island was long known as a hotspot for cartel smuggling operations involving narcotics, weapons, money, and high-value individuals. The densely wooded island provided concealment for transnational criminal activity and has been a problem for decades according to law enforcement familiar with the area.

Texas Air National Guard Helps Law Enforcement Seize Over 800 Lbs. Of Narcotics

Texas National Guard members assigned to Task Force South seized more than 800 lbs. of narcotics being smuggled across the Texas-Mexico border in a 10-day period in November.

“The work our service members are performing along the Texas border is imperative to national security,” said Lt. Col. Wayne Sanaghan, 432nd Air Expeditionary Group Commander. “Over the last ten days, we’ve successfully prevented approximately 845 lbs. of narcotics from being trafficked into our country. We are proud of our Texas National Guard members on this mission and are grateful for our partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety.” 

Texas National Guard Engineers Install New Anti-Climb Barrier In Brownsville

Throughout 2023, Texas National Guard Engineer Special Response Teams repaired existing concertina wire barriers damaged by illegal crossers. In December, the engineers began installing new anti-climb barrier (ACB) near Brownsville.

Placed behind the reinforced concertina wire, the ACB—which has more concertina wire attached—is deployed to prevent the use of ladders or other scaling devices to illegally cross from Mexico into Texas.

Governor Abbott Signs Historic Border Security Measures In Brownsville

On December 18, in front of the Texas border wall in Brownsville, Governor Abbott signed into law a transformative package of border security legislation passed during Special Session #3 and Special Session #4 of the 88th Texas Legislature. 

"President Biden’s deliberate inaction has left Texas to fend for itself. Today, I will sign three laws to better protect Texas—and America—from President Biden’s border neglect," said Governor Abbott. "These laws will help stop the tidal wave of illegal entry into Texas, add additional funding to build more border wall, and crackdown on human smuggling."

WATCH: Texas National Guard Continues To Secure The Border In 2023

The Texas National Guard's river patrol, brush teams, and engineering operation are force multipliers along the Texas-Mexico border, helping law enforcement partners thwart transnational criminal activity and illegal immigration. Heading into 2024, Operation Lone Star will continue to be supported by a dedicated and adaptable force of Texas National Guard soldiers, ready to serve and protect Texans. 

"Every day I put the uniform on and when I come to work, I feel like I'm doing my part," said Spc. Robert Wincher, Task Force Center Laredo. "I feel like I'm making an impact here on the border."