HOUSTON -- The Texas Department of Public Safety will use grant money on a new DPS Marine Division aimed at catching members of the Mexican drug cartels.
“And we are going to keep a proactive approach because that’s the only thing these cowards understand,” said Colonel Steven McCraw, director of DPS.
Patrolling the Rio Grande River, Texas DPS will specifically target cartel members and their workforce who are constantly trying to smuggle contraband into Texas.
DPS provided KHOU 11 News video taken from its helicopters showing how the smugglers - using stolen pickups - abruptly turn around and head back to the Rio Grande River when they’ve been spotted by U.S. law enforcement.
Trying to avoid arrest and to save the drugs from being confiscated by the United States, the smugglers just drive right into the river.
Officials have dubbed it a “splashdown.”
“And now we are going to have black and white tactical boats heavily equipped and armed so we can protect Texas,” said Col. McCraw.
The “splashdown” technique used by these smugglers is bizarre to say the least.
And DPS says incidents like this are occurring nearly every day.
Col. McCraw says the smugglers recently opened fire on them during their pursuits.
“And what we are having to do is create a marine capability within the department of public safety,” said Col. McCraw.
The drug cartels use stolen vehicles - mainly pickups - for their smuggling operations. The trucks the smugglers don’t mind losing, but the drugs are a different story.
Once the vehicles have splashed into the Rio Grande River, smugglers from the Mexican side enter the river in boats. They paddle to the submerged vehicle to grab bundles of drugs.
The drugs are taken back to Mexico, where the smugglers will try again another day.
“They’re not just trying to get the contraband across the border, they are trying to get it into the cities, and Houston is a trans-shipment center for the U.S.,” said Col. McCraw.
Once these drug-runners are in the water, there’s a fine line on who has jurisdiction and what can be done.
“Well half that river is ours and that’s it.” said Col. McCraw.
And the leader of DPS says Texas is beefing up its enforcement on the ground, in the air, and now on the Rio Grande River.