Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testified before Senate Finance today, sharing his concern that crime in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio is very much connected to Mexican drug cartels, operating though the potent prison gangs Texas Syndicate and Texas Mafia. For most, that’s not particularly “new” news. But McCraw also shared some statistics that gave his audience great pause: Last year, law enforcement agencies operating in the Rio Grande Valley apprehended what they refer to as 287 OTMs (other than Mexicans) — illegal immigrants from countries with active Al Qaeda cells or Taliban activity. Places like Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, etc. Even more startling was a federal General Accounting Office statistic that law enforcement’s net catches only about 6.5 percent of the criminal activity coming across the border. In the hearing, Sen. Dan Patrick suggested that we could extrapolate that the 287 potential “terrorists” represents only 6.5 percent of the total threat. McCraw gave the Finance Committee solid reasons to believe that investment in border security operations reaps dividends. Last year, thanks to an additional state-funded DPS presence on the border, drug seizures increased 124 percent and cash seizures jumped by 137 percent. Neither the Senate or House proposed bills cut too deeply into DPS border operations, but my prediction is that this is one area of the budget that won’t be trimmed.
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