Page 39: of Marine News Magazine (February 2014)

Combat & Patrol Craft Annual

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New Marine Group Has 40 Fully Trained OfÞ cersThe Texas border with Mexico is anything but an easy stretch to patrol. ?The Dept. of Public Safety?s Tactical Ma- rine Unit commands a state-of-the-art  eet of armored, shallow-water interceptors used to detect, disrupt and deter criminal activity on the Rio Grande River, international lakes and the Intracoastal Waterway,? Texas DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said last month. The TMU was founded in 2011. ?Painted in the familiar, DPS black and white pattern, the interceptors are equipped with ballistic shielding and four- to-six FN M240B, fully-automatic machine guns, capable of  ring up to 900 .30 caliber rounds per minute,? Vinger said, adding, ?The vessels have night vision capabilities, allowing them to operate in a day or night environment.? And they can move quietly along a waterway for stealthy operations. ?The TMU is comprised of about 40 DPS of cers to help detect and deter those who break state laws and en- danger our citizens,? Vinger said. ?These of cers have received extensive training from the U.S. Coast Guard. The TMU coordinates with local, state and federal law- enforcement agencies and provides assistance as needed.? The TMU is funded by the state legislature and federal, homeland security grants. The U.S. Border Patrol enforces immigration laws, Vinger said. ?The TMU and the patrol vessels represent a signi cant enhancement of the state?s efforts in combating Mexican cartels and other criminal organizations transporting ille- gal drugs into Texas, as well as a variety of weapons, ex- plosives and munitions southbound into Mexico,? Vinger said. ?The vessels are used to combat splashdowns, a tac- tic by which drug smugglers trying to evade law enforce- ment crash their vehicles into the Rio Grande in Texas.? Boat retrieval teams then enter the river from Mexico to recover the drugs. Smugglers involved in splashdowns usu- ally commit multiple offenses, including vehicle  ight and reckless driving, and sometimes use weapons as they evade of cers and attempt to destroy evidence. In the last  ve years, Texas has had at least 79 cartel-related splashdowns. Mexican Cartels: Tough Mission, Wide Swath According to the Texas DPS, Mexican cartels are the state?s biggest, organized crime threat. Six out of eight ma- jor Mexican cartels have command-and-control networks in Texas, and they use the Lone Star State as a transship- ment center for marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and people to the rest of the United States. The cartels also transport cash, weapons and stolen vehicles through Texas back to Mexico. Texas has 27 ports of entry, 1,254 miles of border with Mexico and 367 miles of coastline, making it hard to watch smugglers. The Texas leg of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, a coastal canal, extends hundreds of miles from Sabine Pass to Port Isabel. Measuring over 267,000 square miles, the state is bigger than France and twice the size of Germany. The Yellow n border patrol boats help shrink that coastline for the Texas DPS? Tactical Marine Units. TMU Was Formed As Border Violence Grew Spending by state and federal agencies on U.S.-Mexican border security has swelled. The U.S. Border Patrol has doubled its staff since 2006, developed more-invasive sur- veillance techniques and expanded its fencing. The U.S. Coast Guard has duties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, in addition to its offshore responsibilities. Texas commissioned its TMU patrol boats after a series of incidents on the border. In a June 9, 2011 event, Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens and U. S. Border Pa- trol agents interrupted drug smugglers trying to move 450 pounds of marijuana across the Rio Grande from Mexico to Hidalgo County, Texas. Mexican cartel members threw rocks and  red guns at the of cers, who shot back, strik- BORDER MN 39MN FEB14 Layout 32-49.indd 39MN FEB14 Layout 32-49.indd 391/20/2014 10:20:12 AM1/20/2014 10:20:12 AM

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