Saturday, April 28, 2012

Off-the-shelf tech 'empowers' Texas Sheriffs

Drug wars make local lawmen combatants

Austin – In an office building located somewhere in this capitol city, a close-knit group of intelligence officers headed by the Texas Rangers fights a border war with serious consquences.

It's called the Border Security Operations Center (BSOC).

This is a hot war, one fought against guns and bombs, bullets and knives, with GPS systems, deer cameras, pressure sensors - and cell phones.

Sheriff's departments are the key to the struggle, according to two of the nation's top military strategists.

Narcotics cartels do much more than smuggle drugs across the border. They also traffic in human sex slaves, launder money, recruit high school-aged children as gun-toting soldiers, and carry out terror operations against farmers and ranchers.

Every day, illegal immigrants looking for work in agricultural fields or in industrial settings are co-opted by terror soldiers trained by the likes of Mexican Army Special Ops deserters such as the Zetas Cartel.

They are interrogated; their origins in the interior of Mexico are learned, their close relatives identified. At that point, they are enslaved, made to tend to crops of marijuana, to mule loads of illicit narcotics or duffel bags of money returning to Mexico – or else their parents, kids, brothers and sisters will perish by the sword in their home villages.

To do all this, the cartels have sought to obtain a border “cushion” a “sanitary zone” of impunity from the Mexican law – one county in depth - on the Texas side of the international border.

In a 59-page report released last September by their organization, COLGEN, the generals came up with some top advice that dovetails with the state's best efforts to stem the tide of unwanted crime and drugs along the nation's longest and loneliest line of demarcation, The Rio Grande.

A former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, Gen. Scales likened the operation to a tripartite problem in the realities of combat learned in the Persian Gulf region in two recent wars.

Operational integrity depends on flexibility and a high degree of mobility.

The idea that a single point defense could interdict persons crossing the border violates a tenet of war; narrow, single point defenses are both porous and brittle, and can eaily be defeated by an intruder that manages to 'break through' by piercing a single defensive line and moving very quickly into the undefended areas deeper in the state and beyond.”

They found that the Texas Department of Public Safety uses a layered “defense in depth” at the tactical and operational levels,” an approach that “seeks to extend interdiction beginning with a low-cost interconneted set of sensors that extends from the banks of the Rio Gande inward through the entire depth of the southwestern border counties.”

These points are linked to regional command and control facilities with GPS and cell phones.

The key: Proliferation and tactical depth is gained “at the sacrifice of sophistication.”

Tactical emphasis on security systems recognizes that “border sheriffs are overwhelmed by the threat of narco-terrorism...sheriffs are the close combat forces of the narco-war and it becomes a matter of first priority that sheriffs have all they need to achieve success.”

As always, the Rangers work very closely with the Sheriff's Departments to see to they are not overpowered.

The Rangers' tactical method includes the time-honored military adage that goes like this. “The enemy has a vote.”

Strategy is basic enough. Among senior leaders with the Texas DPS, the generals report, “They accede to the fact that much of their effort was derived from experience in recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan...As with any military-style effort, strategic success is dependent on shared intent.”

What of the Secure Border Initiative? It's not over until it's over. It seems that the Nogales, Arizona, area has seen a new emphasis on electronic surveillance.

Customs and Border Protection intends to buy towers equipped with ground radars and surveillance cameras in Arizona. The basic idea is to remotely man the towers so that someone in a control room can watch a broad swath of border.

But Customs and Border Protection official Mark Borkowski says it’s a much less ambitious system.

"As we were building SBINet, we had industry and representatives of the Department of Defense coming to us and saying why are you doing that, why are you trying to create something that has all of those bells and whistles. The basic stuff you need is just cameras and radars," Borkowski said.

Borkowski says the contracts should be awarded by October.


  1. Don't we have a candidate for Sheriff who worked for Azbell Security on this stuff? I believe Parnell McNamara has it listed in his work experience. And the Plemons camp has been witnessed telling people that McNamara was no more then a jailer. Looks like they've been caught in lies again. McNamara's record as a US Deputy Marshal and Deputy Marshal in Charge far out weighs Plemons experience as a DARE officer and his failed administrive experience the county taxpayers are paying an extra $2 million for this year that sums up Plemons' lackluster career. Add to McNamara's already impressive resume his work in this type of operation, and it's plain to see that McNamara has the experience as a lawman and administrator while having worked with the latest cutting age training and technology in law enforcement.

    When wanting protection from drug lords, do you want to rely on the man who's only exerience is teaching elementary school kids about drugs, or the man who's been part of the forefront of fighting the drug war on the border as part of Texas' aggressive cutting edge drug fighting team. Kind of like asking if you want the annoying 6 year old kid next door or a 3 time Super Bowl winning QB on your football team. The answer is clear, McNamara is the one qualified candidate in this election.

  2. I want to thank you for your interest in this article. The truth is, if we the people of the State of Texas don't empower our Sheriffs, under the direction of the Texas Rangers, to defend our international border, no one else will.

    We have done it before; we will do it again. The man behind the hundred peso piece and the man behind the star are our best, last and future hope for a brilliant future in a golden state - Texas. Shoot, y'all, we ain't got but one durn riot, anyhow. We'd better get busy.

    - The Legendary

    1. The problem we have in McLennan County is we don't have a lawman as Sheriff to empower. We empowered an "administrator" who is really just a weaselly politician who now wants us to empower his flunky, and now it's costing us an extra $2 million this year.

      I hope voters remember this when they go to the polls. We have one candidate who has been at the forefront of fighting some of the worst of the worst when it came to drug dealers & murders with programs like the one mentioned above, and we have one candidate who the closest he's come to a drug dealer, is talking to elementary school kids about drug use. That's quite a big difference in experiences and style in handling crime.

      I've been told we have some really good people in our Sheriff's Office. I know good deputies want a good leader, someone who's been where they are now, someone who has faced the same dangers they have in the field. It's not my opinion, but the cold hard facts, that McNamara is that leader, since Plemons, according to Sheriff records has never been involved in an arrest or investigation during his career as a deputy. McNamara is on record on investigations and arrests of people like Kenneth McDuff, one of the worst serial killers in American history. McNamara was given the highest award in his agency for his work on that case. That's the man I want protecting me and mine!!

  3. As long as you have rampant addiction out there, you will attract drug dealers. You might win a few battles, but others will simply move in and replace them. This is an accepted economic theory - supply and demand. No matter what you do, you will never win this current "War to Nowhere" by trying to cut off the supply. Cut off the overwhelming demand of U.S. addiction and these drug dealers will disappear and we will all be safer.

  4. The law of supply and demand works double edged sword. As long as there is a demand there will be a supply. But the smaller the supply, the greater the demand and the higher the price. You keep cutting off more and more of the supply, the demand will increase to a point that it gets either too expensive to buy or too expensive to supply. When it gets too expensive to supply or buy, it makes it less accessible to be available to become an addiction, thus cutting the demand. When the demand drops, the customer base disappears, but the costs are still there, driving suppliers out of business. Thus a continuely shrinking market for a highly priced product.

  5. This war has done little more than cause us to incarcerate three times as many people as we did 15-20 years ago and I am tired for paying for that ugly nonsense. When Big Pharma and the medical profession jumped in, the game was over and we need to face it. To street dealers peddling in East Waco you have added ladies at Stillwell selling their scripts to nearby housewives - and everything in between. This now permeates every level of our society. It is a national health problem and a root cause of crime. It should be treated as a health problem at much less expense and danger to the rest of us...and you included.

    1. I've worked in the field at a treatment center, and to have a successful treatment when treating a drug problem as a health issue, the person has to be committed to pursuing a successful outcome. Many drug users are not out to pursue an end to their problem, they want to be relieved of the guilt and responsibility. I would agree that getting people off drugs by way of treatment plans, but it's not a realistic solution.

      I think a big cause for it, is that we've made having a drug problem socially acceptable. We've lowered sentences for drug users, taken teeth out of anti-drug laws and campaigns, and relieved the user of their responsibility for creating the problem and treating them like they innocently caught some disease or were in an accident. We've taken away the negative connotation of drug use and glorified it in our culture. Now we're left wondering why it has become so much of a problem. It's kind of like the way we've glorified sex and wonder why teenage pregnancy rates have sky rocketed.

      But the user has to seriously want to get better for it to be combated as a health problem. But Nancy Reagan waged a propaganda war on drugs, and drug use waned. We made headway and seriously committed ourselves to a war on drugs on many fronts, not just criminalizing it. But since we've not only dropped the ball, we've locked the ball up instead of the drug suppliers.

      To seriously stop the drug problem, we have to demonize the suppliers. Openly shun and shame the users into seeking a solution to their addiction. Provide the service for that solution when they ask for it, and encourage them to own up to THEIR problem, make them take responsibility for their problem, and give them the power and tools to solve their problem.

  6. I agree with you about this culture that has developed. Have a problem? Just take a pill. We program kids with this idea via television commercials - and the schools and medical profession play a big part in this as well. A few years back, my son had a 13 year old friend who spend the night and brought his medications - a baggie filled with about a dozen different pills, all prescribed by doctors. We have done that with the elderly for awhile, but now we do it with children.

    Addiction is a disease and should be treated as such. How else do you explain those who become addicted, not as a result of recreation, but as a result of treatment for pain? There are those with lifelong commitments and religious convictions against even the consumption of alcohol that become unwittingly addicted. There is a segment of our population that will become addicted as a result of their physiology alone.

    I don't know that shaming addicts solves much, but you are right on target when you say that services should be provided. Treatment through total abstinence requires a great deal of commitment that many from all walks of life obviously do not have. There are maintenance drugs out there that should be accessible to everyone through public funding.

    Addiction is a health problem, not always a moral or character problem. It drives people to do things they would not normally consider. How else do you explain law enforcement officers buying pills off the street? And believe me, they pay a hefty surcharge when a badge is involved.

    The blood supply for these thugs and drug dealers is the addict. As you mentioned, give them all the tools available. Fund this as a health problem and the associated crime will naturally fade away.

    1. Again, providing the treatment is only a small step. Many of these addicts won't take it. Just look at stars like Lindsay Lohan. She is someone who can undoubtedly afford it the treatment and has even been court ordered to undergo the treatment. But even with all of these opportunities at her disposal, she's been in as many rehabs as she has movies, yet still she continues to have her problem and continues to collect more legal troubles.

      Until you've worked in this field you really have no idea that most addicts will never commit themselves to making themselves better. I've worked in a unit that was an alternative to prison. 1 out of 100 made it successfully through the 3 month program. They had to maintain contact with their probation officer after they got out from the remainder of their probation. In the 5 years I worked there, only 1 did not have an additional drug related offense a within a year. Out of 5,000, only a single person managed to stay clean for a year, with the threat of prison as a consequence of not staying clean.

      Culture is everything. If something is shunned by the culture, that closes the gateway to becoming an addict to most. And in any treatment plan, the first steps are removing the behavior followed by removing the enablers of that behavior. In Law Enforcement, that mean removing the drug supply and the dealers. Makes it difficult to be an addict when there is no supply or dealers.