Officials Find Little Effect on Drugs in Texas Border Surge

National Guard troops at Texas border
NBC 5 News

The months-long surge of Texas National Guard personnel, state troopers and game wardens to the border with Mexico has had less effect that state officials hoped.

The Austin American-Statesman reported Friday that Operation Strong Safety does not appear to have achieved the main objectives set forth by then-Gov. Rick Perry and other top state officials.

"We're not seeing any slowdown in supply," said Greg Thrash, resident agent-in-charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Austin. As for drug prices, "from the wholesale level, they are dropping like the price of gas," he said.

Perry ordered the surge last June in response to a sharp increase in illegal border crossings in the hope of stemming that flow and disrupting the work of Mexican drug cartels.

Texas has spent more than $120 million on the operation. State leaders want to spend as much as $815 million more to expand those border operations over the next two years, nearly doubling the state's border security expenditure.

State Sen. John Whitmire of Houston, during a Senate Finance Committee hearing last Monday, pressed Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw for an appraisal of the surge's success.

"Can you sit there and say there's been a reduction of street drugs in any of our major metropolitan areas?" Whitmire asked.

"I can't say there has been," McCraw said. "The challenge we have now with numbers on street cost, there's no question that it's a good indicator of whether we are succeeding or not." The border effort needs to move from detection to actually blocking the drug flow, McCraw said.

More meth and less cocaine is appearing on the streets of Texas cities, said Lt. David Socha, of the Austin Police Department organized crime division. Meanwhile, heroin and marijuana prices in Austin have remained mostly unchanged or fallen slightly.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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