Through coordinated efforts, DPS, local and federal agencies are impacting illegal drug trafficking operations along the border. One of the most noticeable trends is that law enforcement is disrupting the drug smugglers close to the border and in many cases, forcing them back across the Rio Grande.

Increased law enforcement patrol along the border is thwarting drug smugglers’ attempts to transport their loads into Texas. DPS Aviation video shows smugglers as they drive their narcotics-laden vehicles into the river, recover the drugs by boat or other means, and then take them back to Mexico. Video also shows smugglers on the Mexico-side of the border as they attempt to smuggle drugs into Texas, but are forced to abandon their operation because of the presence of DPS and other law enforcement entities. (See video and photos at Many loads are recovered by law enforcement before smugglers can distribute them in Texas or take them back to Mexico.

The coordinated efforts between DPS, local and federal agencies have resulted in the following:

Seizures                        CY 2008-2009 Totals           

Marijuana (lbs)                   2,995,377             

Methamphetamine (lbs)             1,920                 

Cocaine (lbs)                            24,304                

Heroin (lbs)                                   442                   

Cash (in dollars)                65,341,631            

Drug Arrests                            20,306

Referrals of suspected undocumented immigrants to the Border Patrol                                        19,015

In the past, these drugs would have ended up in major cities across the United States for distribution and consumption. Now, DPS uses land and air operations to aggressively patrol the border region in a coordinated effort with other law enforcement agencies to disrupt drug trafficking organizations (DTOs). This effort has placed so much pressure on the DTOs’ supply chains that drug smugglers can no longer afford to have their narcotics seized along the border, forcing them to attempt to recover the drugs and return them to Mexico.

A porous border with Mexico increases the threat of not only drug smuggling, but also human smuggling and terrorism. DTOs and other Mexican crime organizations, which sometimes include former foreign military commandos, have become increasingly sophisticated with better weapons and more organized, using well-coordinated, pre-planned narcotics recovery efforts. DPS, local and federal agencies are meeting this threat through a coordinated offensive that makes the state safer and helps to decrease crime.

In 2007, the 80th Legislature appropriated funding for four new DPS border helicopters and pilots, which are stationed in Laredo, Del Rio, Alpine and El Paso. Two other helicopters support border operations and are located in McAllen and Corpus Christi. With these new assets, DPS Aviation can better assist other DPS divisions and local and federal law enforcement. The coordinated effort among law enforcement and the impact of the additional helicopters and pilots is evidenced, in part, by the disruption of DTO operations and can be seen in the images captured by DPS aircrews.

DPS also has eight other helicopters stationed in Austin, San Antonio, Garland, Waco, Midland, Lubbock, Amarillo, Houston and an additional helicopter will be added this spring to Longview.