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South Texas Regional Partnership
Southwest Border HIDTA

General Information:
  Year of Designation:  1990
  Geographic Area of Responsibility:

Bexar, Cameron, Dimmit, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Kinney, La Salle, Starr, Maverick, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, Zapata, and Zavala counties;

    Contact: (210) 692-1532

Mission Statement:

The mission of the South Texas (ST) Partnership, Southwest Border High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (SWB HIDTA) is to reduce drug availability by creating intelligence-driven drug task forces aimed at eliminating or reducing domestic drug trafficking and its harmful consequences through enhancing and helping to coordinate drug trafficking control efforts among federal, state and local Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA). The ST Partnership's Director and Executive Committee identified eight specific goals to accomplish the mission. The major goals are reducing drug availability by eliminating or disrupting Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOT) and Regional Priority Organization Targets (RPOT) Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO); increasing focus on CPOT/RPOT transportation and distribution organizations; partnering with Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) regarding CPOT/RPOT; increasing investigative focus on money laundering activities through intelligence providing avenues for investigations, thus impacting on drug trafficking profits; seeking to identify, dismantle, and prosecute large-scale narcotics and money laundering organizations, and seize the assets associated with their illegal activities; increasing coordination and consolidation among SWB HIDTA initiatives; increasing counter drug information collection, analysis, production and fusion into useable intelligence, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Law Enforcement Organizations (LEO) within the STR through enhanced training, coordination, and officer safety.

Threat Abstract:

The South Texas Region is a primary corridor for transportation and transshipment of illegal drugs entering the United States from Mexico. Major DTOs operating within the region and across the border in Mexico plague South Texas with their poly-drug trafficking activities. The South Texas region is a nationally significant transportation and transshipment hub for drugs destined for the rest of the nation. Drugs transit the South Texas region to Dallas or Houston on route to their final destinations.

The illegal drugs DTOs conceal are shipped via private and commercial cargo vehicle as well as other regional methods of transportation. The enormous volumes of commercial and pedestrian traffic transiting South Texas provides excellent masking opportunities for smuggling through and between Ports of Entry.

Significant shipments of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana transit the region. Large sums of illegally obtained funds also transit the region on the way south to the DTO operators.

The availability of Mexican black tar heroin through the region attracts a number of new users, including adolescents. An increasing indication of South American heroin indicates the region is quickly becoming a new market for this drug in the South Texas region.

Mexican methamphetamine continues to be a major problem within the region. Mexican methamphetamine DTO increasingly try to smuggle large amounts of their illicit drug through the area.

Strategy Abstract:

The ST Partnership, SWB HIDTA Executive Committee consists of 13 local, state, and Federal law enforcement leaders representing the 14 counties of the ST region, SWB HIDTA. The Executive Committee coordinates and integrates, with the SWB HIDTA, counter narcotic efforts in interdiction, intelligence collection, development, and exchange, and investigations to facilitate prosecutions of drug trafficking organization members. There are 49 local, state, and federal LEA participating in the ST Partnership's initiatives and task forces. The 49 agencies represent 12 federal, three state and 34 local LEA are working in the region's multi- jurisdictional, collocated task forces. The counterdrug efforts target illicit narcotic activities across all the 14 counties in the South Texas Partnership's areas of responsibility. The South Texas region's calendar year 2003 seizures totaled more than 52 percent of the cocaine, 38 percent of the marijuana, 32 percent of the methamphetamine, and 29 percent of the heroin seized during the year on the SWB. Ecstasy is also being seized in increasing quantities.

Operational elements are located in the major border cities and ports of entry of Brownsville, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Laredo, McAllen (Hidalgo POE), Rio Grande City, and San Antonio. Initiatives consist of multi-agency, collocated counterdrug task forces participating in counter drug related interdiction, investigative/money laundering, intelligence, and prosecution efforts across the South Texas region.

A total of 14 operational task forces, supported by the Investigative Support Center (ISC) and its nodes, cover the South Texas region.

The Administrative staff for the South Texas Partnership headquarters itself in San Antonio, TX. The Administrative staff also provides training support for South Texas and regional LEA.

Investigative Support Center:

The San Antonio Investigative Support Center (ISC), and its support elements in Austin, Brownsville, McAllen, Laredo, and Del Rio, provides support for operational activities.

The ST HIDTA Intelligence Center (STHIC), located in San Antonio, provides the ISC needs within the ST Partnership. It is a full service center providing information, assistance and support in narcotics investigations. Its mission is to provide accurate, detailed, and timely tactical, investigative, and strategic drug intelligence to HIDTA initiatives, participating agencies, and other LEA, as appropriate. Coupled with the five supporting intelligence elements and the Deconfliction Center, the STHIC meets the needs of not only the 14 ST counties but also supports LEA requests from an additional 58 plus counties within the South Texas Region. Local, state, and Federal LEA from 88 different cities and locations within the state use the center. The ISC therefore supports several cornerstones of the HIDTA Development Standards.

The elements enhance intelligence collection, analysis, reporting, and production within the partnership. Each element of the STHIC consists of a cell of collocated and commingling local, state, and federal intelligence professionals catering to the needs of task forces and the mission to reduce drug availability in the region and the nation.

The Deconfliction Center provides support for LEA located throughout the state as well as meeting the needs of HIDTA partnership personnel. The database used is as an information storage and mapping software system designed to enhance officer safety during high-risk enforcement actions. Again, more than 72 counties within the State of Texas participate in and work with the ST Deconfliction Center.

Overall, the STHIC and its subordinate task forces provide tactical and strategic support as well as continually reviewing and updating the Threat Assessment and providing deconfliction services for the STP, SWB HIDTA.

The STHIC is the hub for three of the SWB HIDTA Partnerships in their use of the Regional Information Sharing System Network (RISSNET). RISSNET is a national LEA network which enhances the support received from the ISC of the region and the nation.

The ISC provides participating agencies and HIDTA task forces operational analytical support for ongoing "initiative driven" case activity through access to multiple criminal and commercial databases. The ISC provides narcotics intelligence analyses, prepares threat assessments, strategic reports, and organizational studies; participates in informant and defendant debriefings; performs tactical alert distribution, provides for post-seizure and search warrant analyses; supports arrest operations; prepares and conducts briefings for visitors to the HIDTA; and assists in trial preparations. Additionally, the ISC conducts self-initiated intelligence analysis projects to generate leads for HIDTA investigative agencies. The STHIC requires intelligence managers within the region to meet quarterly to enhance regional reporting so resources and direction of the South Texas Partnership may be evaluated, with relationship to initiatives.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (United States Border Patrol (USBP)), Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE), Department of Justice - Office of the Inspector General (DOJ- OIG), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), United States Coast Guard (USCG), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS), United States Marshals Service (USMS), United States National Park Service (NPS), and U.S. Attorneys Offices from the Southern and Western Districts of Texas (USAO- SDT/WDT).

State/Local: Texas Attorney General's Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas National Guard, 293 rd Judicial District, 63 rd Judicial District, Bexar County Constable's Office, Brownsville Police Department, Cameron County Auditor's Office, Cameron County District Attorney, Cameron County Sheriff's Office, Combes Police Department, Eagle Pass Police Department, Harlingen Police Department, Hidalgo County Auditor's Office, Hidalgo County District Attorney, Kimble County Sheriff's Office, Kinney County Sheriff's Office, La Salle County Sheriff's Office, Laredo Police Department, Leon Valley Police Department, McAllen Police Department, Mission Police Department, Pharr Police Department, Port Isabel Police Department, Rio Grande City Police Department, San Antonio Police Department, San Benito Police Department, Starr County District Attorney, Starr County Sheriff's Office, Union Pacific Railroad, Val Verde County Sheriff's Office, Webb County District Attorney's Office, Webb County Sheriff's Office, Weslaco Police Department, Willacy County Sheriff's Office, Zapata County District Attorney, and Zapata County Sheriff's Office.

Significant Achievements:

The South Texas Partnership of the SWB HIDTA made significant management and leadership gains within the last year. As mention previously, the El Paso Intelligence Center reports the region is responsible for the seizure of more than 52 percent of the cocaine, 38 percent of the marijuana, 32 percent of the methamphetamine and 29 percent of the heroin in 2003.

In 2004, the South Texas Partnership, through the leadership and guidance of the Director and Executive Committee, undertook a major review of regional assets, procedures, management methods, budgetary practices, and intelligence capabilities. The reviews objectives resulted in heightened sensitivity to initiative and task force needs as well as a better use of intelligence resources.

Financially, a bottoms-up review, led by the appointed Financial Subcommittee, resulted in a better distribution of scarce funds while focusing on real growth and greater achievements from existing task forces. Critical and hard financial decisions resulted in more meaningful “ownership rights” for lead agencies and participating agencies. With input from the Director's Administrative Support Element's (DASE) Director and Financial Officer, the Executive Committee received a presentation focusing on demonstrated historical fiscal management. This presentation, coupled with a presentation of the Operational Review Subcommittee, provided an annual recap of resources provided compared to task force outputs and outcomes.

The Investigative Support Center, with its hub and nodes, received a review of its support abilities and overall performance on targeted DTO. The Intelligence Sub- committee performed this evaluation and review.

Not to be left out, the DASE received an in- depth evaluation as well. The Executive Committee's Chair, Vice-Chair, and two additional Executive Committee members performed an evaluation of the DASE.

Results of the overall review of the ST Partnership and its intelligence, interdiction, investigative, and prosecution elements resulted in a more cohesive and comprehensive HIDTA Program within this SWB Partnership.

Improved communications, on-site inspections, task force feedback, fiscal and operational training opportunities and attendance give a significant perspective to this bottom-up review procedure.

Though not a panacea to all, the program is a start in a continual effort within the Partnership to provide overall support to the federal, state, and local Law Enforcement Agencies participating within our region. Increased intelligence exchange, deconfliction support, investigative achievements, and interdiction efforts reflect the success and goals identified by the leadership of the ST Partnership, SWB HIDTA.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005