WESLACO, Texas (ValleyCentral) – The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department held their first weekly briefing on Thursday to provide updates on Operation Lone Star (OLS).
The operation was ordered by Governor Greg Abbott in March. OLS allows Texas DPS and the Texas National Guard to join and patrol high-risk areas along the southern border, including the Rio Grande Valley.
With full-size weapons and drugs, Lt. Christopher Olivarez said the department has had its hands full at the border.
“The troops working along the border are facing each other day in and day out,” Olivarez said. “But the numbers we see this year have been historic, just the increase in migrants they’ve been finding, the criminal activity, the increase in vehicle searches, we’ve never seen in previous years.”
According to the Texas DPS, there have been more than 200 vehicle chases of drug and human smugglers in the valley. During the briefing, a video from the control camera on these activities in Starr and Hidalgo County was shown. Some of the drug arrests occurred just in the last five days.
Texas DPS regional director Victor Escalon says the smugglers they have encountered are not just adults.
“Adults were escaping drug driving, but even more so driving human smuggling, migrants,” Escalon said. “And we see minors, we keep seeing that minors are more aggressive and want to fight with our staff.”
Operation Lone Star has also expanded to counties in the north of the valley, including Val Verde and Edwards County. Texas DPS says there is still more government support to help reduce the high figures.
“The federal government needs to help the border patrol and provide them with more resources because right now they are stretching,” Olivarez said. all migrants who are found “.
While the large influx of contraband shows no signs of slowing down, Operation Lone Star plans to stay in full force.
“We have to be here every day, we have to be visible, they have to see us in these areas of interest,” Escalon said. “The planes, your helicopters, your boats that are in the water, that’s a big deterrent and having fencing, it’s a big deterrent.”