DPS to Patrol Rio Grande in Armored Boats

Cartel violence prompts tougher border measures

Friday, Mar 2, 2012  |  Updated 8:20 AM CDT
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DPS to Patrol Rio Grande in Armored Boats

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U.S. Border Patrol agents watch colleagues motor past while patrolling the Rio Grande.

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The Texas Department of Public Safety says it'll have two armored gunboats patrolling the Rio Grande later this month.

DPS Director Steve McCraw said Thursday that the gunboats aren't something they would have considered four years ago, but the violent Mexican cartels have changed the game.

Agency spokesman Tom Vinger says that by summer there will be six of the 34-foot boats operating -- three on the Rio Grande and three on the Intracoastal Waterway. The first two will be based in the Rio Grande Valley.

Fully equipped, the boats cost $588,000 each, paid for with federal grants and state funds.

McCraw, who spoke at a legislative field hearing on the border, also said the state still plans to procure a high-altitude surveillance plane to patrol the border.

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