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West Texas Regional Partnership
Southwest Border HIDTA

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

El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, Presidio, Brewster, Terrell, Crockett, Pecos, and Reeves counties.

    Contact: Travis B. Kuykendall, Director (915) 532-9550

Mission Statement:

The mission of the West Texas Region of the Southwest Border HIDTA is to dismantle the Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) in our region and to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States. We will make our area “unattractive” to the DTOs via the development and coordination of intelligence, interdiction, investigative, forfeiture and prosecution initiatives.

Threat Abstract:

The West Texas Region of the Southwest Border HIDTA (SWB HIDTA – West Texas) adjoins the 490 miles of international border including five of the busiest Ports of Entry (POEs) on any US Border. The primary routes for drug smuggling in the area are through the POEs via motor vehicles ranging from passenger cars to semi-trailers. Remote stretches of unregulated territory between the POEs are also vulnerable to drug trafficking. The El Paso International Airport, Interstate-10, which accesses both ends of the country, and rail companies are exploited by narcotics entrepreneurs as well. An extensively interconnected commercial and social infrastructure in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, and to a smaller scale Presidio, Texas and Ciudad Ojinaga, Mexico, provide drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) with innumerable methods of "masking" their illicit trade. Commerce between the two countries has been on the rise due to NAFTA and expected to continue. Increasing trade and corresponding traffic through the region amplify the complexity of the threat.

Drug traffickers in the area are major, high- level international organizations with command and control components operating out of Mexico. Large-scale importation and trafficking of all types of drugs - predominantly cocaine, marijuana, and heroin – destined for all major cities throughout the United State is the primary problem. El Paso is a hub for illicit drug distribution and money laundering systems. Cocaine seizures on the United States side of the border have doubled since 1997 and continue to rise. Marijuana seizures continue to be the largest in the country. Heroin seizures continue to grow. DTOs are sophisticated and wealthy enough to avoid law enforcement efforts to curtail money- laundering activities. Internal and external power struggles to control the Juarez Cartel unleashed a wave of violence in Ciudad Juarez and Ojinaga, Mexico that continues to be a problem. Corruption on both sides of the border assists the DTOs in advancing their illicit trade.

Charts 1 and 2 from the West Texas HIDTA 2005 Threat Assessment demonstrate the increasing burden of drug trafficking in the West Texas region. Increasing successes in disrupting and dismantling the drug trafficking organizations, combined with increased use of this region to transship narcotics to the United States is reflected in the caseloads of prosecutors.

The continued increase of fugitive arrests, combined with an increase in Federal, state, and local warrants indicate the growing need for law enforcement, prosecution, and corrections resources in the West Texas area.

Strategy Abstract:

West Texas, designated in 1990 as one of the five regions of the Southwest Border HIDTA, encompasses ten West Texas counties that adjoin 490 miles of international border with Mexico. The West Texas Regional Executive Committee is comprised of 3 local, 1 state, and 6 federal law enforcement leaders in the SWB HIDTA-West Texas area of responsibility. A unified approach between law enforcement and prosecution agencies facilitates regional efforts to stem the flow of drugs entering the United States for distribution.

A total of 23 federal, state, and local agencies cooperatively participate in 12 multi-agency initiatives. The management & coordination component of this HIDTA region is located in El Paso, TX. The Investigative Support Center (ISC), comprising the intelligence backbone of the HIDTA, is also co-located in El Paso, TX. The Texas Narcotics Information System, is a statewide multi-HIDTA initiative located in Austin, TX. Six investigative initiatives target the major drug trafficking organizations, and their components, operating in the region. This includes targeting the highest command and control levels of drug trafficking organizations, their transportation organizations, money laundering organizations, and the fugitives related to drug trafficking. Three interdiction initiatives target the Ports of Entry, the use of wide-open territory throughout the region, transient traffickers, and the prolific use of stash houses to accumulate and ship large quantities of drugs throughout the country. The prosecution initiative enhances enforcement efforts by ensuring the full prosecution of narcotics cases.

Investigative Support Center:

The West Texas Region Intelligence Initiative consists of 3 nodes, which provide operational units with a seamless intelligence support system. The structure and policies of the entire initiative comply with the Federal General Counter Drug Intelligence Plan (GCIP). The Intelligence Initiative functions in the following manner: The Investigative Support Center (ISC) is the hub of the West Texas HIDTA and it is located in one office location, the El Paso Federal Criminal Justice Building. Three agencies are full participants in and co- manage the ISC: Drug Enforcement Administration, El Paso Field Division; El Paso County Sheriff's Department; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The ISC is the initial point of contact on all service requests to the Intelligence Initiative. The ISC provides data base query, deconfliction pointer index services, and a full range of tactical and strategic analytical support and reports. With the addition of translators from the Texas National Guard, the ISC provides translation/transcription services to all of the HIDTA initiatives. It also develops intelligence driven investigations to provide to the operational units. The ISC serves as the hub of communications between all of the agencies/initiatives, the West Texas Region administrative center and the other SWB Regions through the development and operation of a secure Intranet/e-mail system. Access to all federal, state, local and commercial databases has been achieved. Connectivity to the RISSNET has been achieved. The FBI, DEA, BICE, DPS, EPCSD and the EPPD have all assigned personnel to the ISC on a full-time basis. The TOAG, CBP/USBP-El Paso and CBP/USBP-Marfa have all assigned part-time personnel to the ISC. EPIC also plays a role in the ISC with connectivity to the ISC WAN, and the ISC has access to EPIC's Clandestine Lab database.

The Alpine/Marfa/Big Bend Intelligence Center (AMBBIC) is being established as a satellite ISC that provides limited intelligence support in the Alpine/Marfa/Big Bend areas of the West Texas Region. The Texas Narcotics Intelligence System (TNIS) is the third node of the West Texas HIDTA Intelligence Initiative that provides national database connectivity, a central information repository and limited analytical support. The ISC coordinates the efforts of the AMBBIC and TNIS components of the initiative so that the narcotics agent/officer is serviced by a seamless intelligence support system.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), United States Border Patrol from the El Paso and Marfa Sectors (CBP/USBP), Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE), United States National Park Service (NPS), United States Marshals Service (USMS), and U.S. Attorneys Offices (AUSA) from the Western District of Texas.

State/Local: Texas Office of the Attorney General (TXOAG), Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS), Texas Board of Criminal Justice – Inspector General Division (TBCJ-IG), Texas National Guard, Counter Drug Program (TXNG-CD), 34th Judicial District Attorney's Office (34 DA), Alpine Police Department (APD), Brewster County Sheriff's Office (BCSO), Culberson County Sheriff's Office (CCSO), El Paso County Sheriff's Department (EPCSD), El Paso Police Department (EPPD), Hudspeth County Sheriff's Office (HCSO), and the Presidio County Sheriff's Office (PCSO).

Other: El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), JTF-North, and El Paso County Metro Narcotics Task Force.

Significant Achievements:

Beginning in 2003, the West Texas Region initiated Consolidate Priority Organization Targeting (CPOT) efforts. Even without funding available at the time, this became a comprehensive, multiple agency/initiative effort to the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes DTO (VCFO), the Ismael Zambada Garcia DTO (IZGO), and associated RPOT organizations with an intelligence driven investigative operation that will result in the disruption of the VCFO and IZGO and the dismantlement of their associated RPOT organizations.

West Texas Region began conducting this operation with the underlying goal of dismantling the VCFO and IZGO.

The ISC became the driving force for this operational initiative. The initiative is managed by the CPOTS Management Committee (CMC), which consists of the area task force commanders that reflect the make-up of the Regional Executive Committee (EXCOM). The CMC approves targets and expenditures and coordinates case investigations to maximize the efficient and effective use of our resources.

The ISC is the intelligence hub for the operation. They coordinate target enforcement solely as a deconfliction mechanism. Investigative initiatives focus their efforts on dismantling the organizations validated as CPOT targets by the ISC. Interdiction initiatives focus their efforts on disrupting operations associated with the identified RPOT organizations. Interdiction operations funded under this project are intelligence driven and specifically linked to the targeted organizations. VCFO, IZGO and associated RPOT assets are targeted by all initiatives.

Some success of the West Texas Region's CPOT initiative has already been realized. In 2003 and 2004, the West Texas Smuggling Initiative significantly disrupted the VCFO at the highest levels in their efforts under Operations “Pale Horse” and “Pasadores”. A total of twenty-two smuggling, and/or transportation organizations (or “cells”) were identified through a single confidential source, and specific individuals or targets were chosen for targeting based on priority, importance, ease of infiltration, current activity, and ranking within the Juarez Cartel. Two organizations responsible for command, control, and oversight of the Juarez smuggling corridor were identified and dismantled.

To date the HIDTA investigation has resulted in the seizure of 58 pounds of cocaine and 6,000 pounds of marijuana. The investigation revealed that the primary target was used by the organization as an “Enforcer”. The primary target was responsible for the collection of debts owed the organization and the patronage payments for the use of the Juarez smuggling corridor. During this investigation the primary target was linked to a total of twelve murders committed in Juarez, Mexico. Since the murders were directly related to criminal activity occurring within the jurisdiction of
U.S. law enforcement officials, the U.S. Attorney's Office agreed to seek indictments against him for Continuing Criminal Enterprise and the Federal Murder statutes.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005