The War on Thugs

They were the jump-out boys—masked, black-clad narcs who busted dealers and jailed junkies all over rural Texas. Then came Tulia. Now the state’s drug task forces are fighting for their own survival. And that's a good thing.

AT THE ANNUAL CONVENTION of Texas narcotics officers, held this year in El Paso in August, narcs in search of continuing education were offered seminars with titles like “Hidden Compartments,” “Body Language,” “Risk Management,” and—new for this year—“Narcotraffickers and the Spiritual World,” in which a retired El Paso cop explained how to identify the image of Jesús Malverde, the patron saint of drug dealers, during traffic stops. Next year,

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