Despite or because of the recent escalation in violence attributed to the war between the Mexican government and the drug cartels, the Brownsville Division remains at the doorstep of a tremendous immigration crossroad and is again heavily influenced by its location along the international border and proximity to the coastline.
Although the prosecution of the smuggling of aliens remains a priority for this division, added emphasis has also been given to the prosecution of criminal aliens who have returned to the U.S. illegally after being previously deported. Special attention has been given to this particular problem in order to attack the issues associated with criminal recidivism at its source and the concerns associated with national security. These priorities along with higher penalties and stronger enforcement efforts have caused the dockets to swell all along the border.
The same inﬂuences that drive the immigration side of the docket also impact the narcotics side of the prosecution equation. Whether through one of the ports of entry, the riverbank or along the coast, the criminal element uses every avenue as a means of circumventing detection. Large seizures of marijuana, cocaine, meth and heroin continue to be made. For the time being, the violence attributed to the ongoing efforts by the Mexican government to deal with the cartels has remained in Mexico with limited spill-over to our side. Nonetheless, all law enforcement in the area is acutely aware of the dangers and concerns associated with the current unrest just across the Rio Grande River.
While at times the work seems to be completely driven by reactive type cases, a lot of hard work is also being done by this division and its partner agencies on long-term investigations. These are directed at dismantling large scale immigration and narcotics organizations in the area, including going after their assets through asset forfeiture and money laundering prosecutions. Indictments against members of the Gulf Cartel remain active in the docket. Multi-agency cooperation along all of these fronts is what has allowed for the successful prosecution of these types of individuals and others like them. Public integrity/corruption violations are also a high priority and long-term investigations and prosecutions against corrupt law enforcement and public officials have also been very successful. Emphasis has also been directed at attacking those involved in the distribution, receipt and production of child pornography. As a means of educating the public, the office has also become involved in doing presentations on the concerns with Internet safety for schools and the public in general.
In conjunction with the national initiative and under PSN, gun prosecutions are also a high priority of this division. The gun initiative is primarily directed at the scam or straw purchases, who then export the weapons to the Republic of Mexico and into the hands of the drug cartels, fueling the problems being faced by Mexican law enforcement. Felons in possession of weapons, aliens in possession and the use of ﬁrearms in the commission of a violent crime or narcotic offense have also been targeted.
The continued emphasis on the ﬁght against terrorism through the efforts of the JTTF is being diligently pursued in cooperation with various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies under the auspices of ATAC. The networking and cooperation amongst its members from all levels of law enforcement have been a model throughout the district.