Operation Lone Star Combats Growing National Fentanyl Crisis
Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the Texas National Guard are continuing to work together to secure the border; stop the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people into Texas; and prevent, detect, and interdict transnational criminal behavior between ports of entry.
Since the launch of Operation Lone Star, the multi-agency effort has led to over 317,000 migrant apprehensions and more than 21,000 criminal arrests, with more than 18,600 felony charges reported. In the fight against fentanyl, DPS has seized over 342 million lethal doses of fentanyl during this border mission.
Texas has also bused over 8,200 migrants to our nation's capital since April, over 3,400 migrants to New York City since August 5, and more than 1,000 migrants to Chicago since August 31. The busing mission is providing much-needed relief to our overwhelmed border communities.
Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps left 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 Biden's open border policies.
RECENT HIGHLIGHTS FROM OPERATION LONE STAR:
Governor Abbott this week announced the launch of the State of Texas’ coordinated “One Pill Kills” campaign to combat the growing national fentanyl crisis, which is a deadly byproduct of President Biden’s open border policies. Governor Abbott also announced new laws to be considered this upcoming legislative session that would classify fentanyl as a poisoning, allow charging an individual for murder if they distribute fentanyl or drugs laced with fentanyl that kill someone, and make NARCAN more readily available across the state for Texans exposed to fentanyl.
"Fentanyl remains the single deadliest drug threat our state and nation has ever encountered, killing four Texans every day," said Governor Abbott. "In the Biden Administration's negligence to address this national security threat, Texas has designated Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations and is launching a statewide public awareness campaign to fight the fentanyl crisis in our state.”
Last month, Governor Abbott directed state agency leaders to ramp up efforts to respond to the crisis, including coordinating outreach to raise awareness of fentanyl’s lethality and prevalence.
Read the press release announcing the statewide “One Pill Kills” campaign.
Governor Abbott held a press conference following a roundtable discussion with state and local law enforcement at the DPS Waco Regional Laboratory on Tuesday to highlight the newly launched “One Pill Kills” campaign.
“Fentanyl is killing innocent Texans, with well over a thousand lives lost from communities across our state due to the pervasiveness of deadly synthetic opioids,” said Governor Abbott. “This clandestine killer is produced and distributed by Mexican drug cartels, which cunningly disguise fentanyl to look like legitimate prescription medications, and even candy to appeal to children.”
Governor Abbott issued an executive order last month designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations and instructing DPS to take immediate action to keep Texans safe amid the growing fentanyl crisis. The Governor also sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris requesting federal terrorist classifications for the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel, as well as other cartels producing and distributing deadly fentanyl.
In an op-ed for the El Paso Times, Governor Abbott explains the significance of his recent designation of Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations and why President Biden must take action to confront the dangers these transnational criminal organizations pose to Texans across the state, as well as the whole nation.
"President Biden has already declared the cartel-driven fentanyl and opioid crisis a national emergency on paper but is doing little to solve it in practice," wrote Governor Abbott. "If our nation’s leaders truly care about ensuring Americans’ safety, President Biden will declare Mexican drug cartels foreign terrorist organizations, as Texas already has, and take actions to mitigate against increasingly deadly cartel threats surging across our border."
A federal designation of Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations would freeze cartel assets, weakening the financial support of trafficking activities. Federal investigators and prosecutors could also aggressively pursue the enhanced criminal sentences applicable to drug traffickers who fund foreign terrorist organizations. Additionally, designating cartels as federal terrorist organizations would heighten public awareness, while signaling to the international community that America will not tolerate terrorists who poison its citizens.
DPS Director Steve McCraw joined Fox News this week to discuss Governor Abbott’s statewide “One Pill Kills” campaign to combat the growing national fentanyl crisis and the Mexican drug cartels that produce and distribute the deadly synthetic opioid. Because the federal government is failing to secure the southern border and address the deadly threat of fentanyl, Governor Abbott has had to deploy unprecedented resources to stop cartels from smuggling illegal drugs into Texas communities.
“The Governor is not just focused on the enforcement portion [of combatting the crisis] but also education—enlisting state agencies, enlisting the communities across Texas, and enlisting the media to educate parents and adults about the dangers of fentanyl,” said Director McCraw. “Mexican cartels are the most powerful, ruthless, and depraved criminal organizations in the world. They care only about making money. People are a commodity when they move them across the border, and they couldn't care less about overdose deaths in Texas.”
DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez spoke with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto about how transnational criminal organizations are taking advantage of President Biden’s failure to secure the border and implement long-term solutions to mass migration. Lt. Olivarez says DPS continues to deal with a record influx of illegal immigrants and human smuggling at the border as the Biden Administration fails to act.
“Criminals have been able to smuggle people since last year, and they feel they can now operate with no consequences,” said Lt. Olivarez. “If they come across our men and women of DPS, we will arrest them. There will be consequences for those individuals violating state law. But the fact that the federal government has allowed an open border policy, the criminal organizations exploit that. It’s a multibillion-dollar trade, and they’re not going to lose their profits.”
Texas National Guard Apprehends Over 103,000 Illegal Immigrants At Border
Texas National Guard soldiers have apprehended or encountered more than 103,000 would-be illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley alone since the launch of Operation Lone Star through mid-October 2022, according to Texas Military Department Task Force East data. While some people attempting to illegally cross the Texas-Mexico border are searching for a better life, criminals, drug smugglers, and human traffickers use those same routes. Because of Operation Lone Star, those criminal elements are now detected and apprehended at the border.
“Every day we come into work and notice that a lot of Border Patrol sections are understaffed, so I feel that having our presence here definitely helps,” said Staff Sgt. Joel Martinez, Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry. “We go into a local gas station, and the locals are always thanking us for doing what we do here.”
Fox News correspondent Joy Addison rode along with DPS troopers near McAllen, and just minutes into the early morning patrol they encountered a group of illegal immigrants who had recently crossed a dangerous section of the Rio Grande River. A few minutes later, a second group was seen and apprehended. The Hidalgo County Sheriff told Fox News his office recently rescued 84 illegal immigrants from a tractor trailer transporting them to a stash house.
“The number of deaths that have taken place and immigrants who have lost their life because of this current border crisis is a record we’ve never seen before,” said DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez. “It’s hard to actually put a number on how many illegal immigrants have come across because there are so many. There are also those individuals that come across and don’t set off any cameras.”
DPS troopers stopped a truck towing a homemade horse trailer in Kinney County. As a trooper was approaching the vehicle, he noticed several individuals concealed inside the trailer. The driver was arrested and charged with human smuggling. Six illegal immigrants were referred to Border Patrol.
A Texas National Guard soldier stationed near Laredo described the recent illegal activity he detected at the border, including an encounter with nine illegal immigrants trespassing on a private ranch. Using assets to track the group through the brush, soldiers and Border Patrol agents were able to apprehend the illegal immigrants.
“Oftentimes, we’ll get a group that will disperse in areas like this,” said 2nd Lt. Joshua Helton, Alpha Company Platoon Leader, Task Force Center. “Every night is different. Usually during the weekdays, we’ll get multiple groups, and we have to be smart and maneuver from one point to the other and maneuver our assets as well to make sure we get in position for other groups.”
DPS troopers stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation in Brooks County. During the roadside interview, the trooper learned the driver had her children—a 14-year-old and a 10-month-old baby—as she was attempting to smuggle three illegal immigrants from Mission to San Antonio. The driver was arrested for human smuggling, and the three illegal immigrants were referred to Border Patrol.
DPS troopers stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation in Webb County when five illegal immigrants bailed out of the vehicle. They were later apprehended, and the driver was arrested and charged with human smuggling.
DPS Troopers Uncover 11 Illegal Immigrants Inside Tractor Trailer In Laredo
As part of Operation Lone Star, last Saturday night, DPS Criminal Investigations Special Agents responded to a possible human smuggling attempt in Laredo. After further investigation, DPS agents discovered 11 illegal immigrants, including eight males and three females from Guatemala.
All illegal immigrants were referred to Border Patrol. The truck tractor and the trailer were impounded because of a missing vehicle identification number. The investigation is still under way.