Drug use and abuse are major problems across the United States. Illegal drugs are made in this country or come in from other countries, and they are bought and sold on the street, in rural areas, and in cities. No matter where you live in the US, the addiction, abuse, and crime associated with illegal drugs is present to some degree.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Texas. In both rural areas and the major urban centers of Texas, drugs have infiltrated and pose a threat to residents. Unlike most other places in the US, Texas faces the particular threat of organized crime connected to the drug trade. With a huge stretch of border in common with Mexico, Texas sees a huge influx of drugs all run by the Mexican drug cartels.
That cartels operating across the border and coming into Texas poses a danger to residents of the state is no surprise, but a recent report indicates that it is now the number one threat to Texans. The report comes from the Department Public of Safety and singles out Mexican cartels as the biggest threat in organized crime in the state.
Findings in the Report
Titled the 2013 Texas Public Safety Threat Overview, the report from the Department of Public Safety points to staggering statistics to claim the huge danger Mexican drug cartels pose to residents of the state. Since 2006, 8.8 million pounds of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana, have been recovered along the border. In counties that are not along the border, close to 27,000 pounds of drugs were seized during the same time period.
The cartels have been increasingly threatening to law enforcement, according to the report. Officers have been the subjects of surveillance by cartel members and have been the victims of assault on their vehicles as well as shootings at the border. The cartels are using increasingly sophisticated methods for bringing drugs into the US and cash into Mexico. They use violent methods, including torture, to get what they want. Since 2006, over 60,000 cartel related deaths have occurred in Mexico.
Drug Cartels in Texas
While more of the violence and danger associated with cartels may occur in Mexico, Texas is at risk as well. The sheer volume of drugs moved in to the state via the cartels increases the amount of drug use in the state and its associated public health and public safety impacts. In addition to drugs, the cartels traffic in people and engage in extortion.
Six out of the eight Mexican cartels are currently operating in Texas. The major drug corridors include Cameron County, Hidalgo County, and the Gulf Coast area. Along the coast, the corridor that cartels use to move drugs north, runs right through Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas-Fort Worth. These three large cities are among the most important consolidation points for the cartels.
The cartels operating in Texas are able to move such large quantities of drugs and money by using legitimate means of trade and travel. They use commercial vehicles, stashed with drugs and cash when possible. They also use stolen cars and trucks. As law enforcement catches up to their tactics, they simply change and use new methods to move their goods.
One current tactic is to use what is called a cloned vehicle. This means taking a car or truck and painting it to look like a legitimate vehicle owned by a real company or government agency. In one instance, a bus painted to look like it belonged to a school district and even had the correct license plate. On the inside, the bus had been retrofitted to carry a large amount of drugs and mannequin heads had been placed in the windows to mimic the appearance of children.
Law enforcement agencies estimate that of all the drugs and cash that they intercept, it represents only 10 to 15 percent of the total that works its way between Mexico and Texas. This means that although officers are doing their best to curtail the drug trade and to clamp down on cartels, the criminals are still winning. Authorities recognize the threat that this poses to Texans. The influx of drugs increases the rates of abuse and addiction, not to mention all the associated crimes and violence that the cartels bring into the state. While the report outlined the threat, it did not offer solutions to this overwhelming problem.