Texas Moves to Reclaim Island From Cartels

Texas DPS
A Texas DPS special operations agent clear a region with cartel activity | Image by Texas DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez/Twitter

Special law enforcement teams under the Texas Department of Public Safety have begun operations on a large island in the Rio Grande to stop drug cartels and other foreign criminal organizations from using it in their schemes.

Fronton Island, which is located in Starr County across the river from Los Guerra, Mexico, has reportedly been used by cartels to facilitate drug smuggling, human trafficking, and unlawful migration. In August, video footage showed armed men in body armor near the island operating on the Texas side of the border, per Fox 22 WFVX.

Chris Olivarez, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), explained, “The Elite [Texas DPS] Rangers Special Operations Group (SOG) began clearing an island for operational security in Fronton, TX. The island has been under control by transnational criminal organizations … for decades. The State … is now taking over to address threats posed to the border region.”

He went on to note that Gov. Greg Abbott, Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham, and the Texas Legislature gave DPS the “tools & authority to combat criminal organizations operating on Texas soil.”

A video posted on social media by Olivarez showed members of the SOG clearing trees, advancing through the brush, and driving motor vehicles on the island.

“This is OUR land,” Abbott posted. “We’ve taken control of it away from transnational criminal organizations that were using it to facilitate illegal immigration & drug smuggling.”

“Plant the Texas flag,” he added.

Commissioner Buckingham had authorized DPS to access Fronton Island on September 7, saying, “I have made a commitment to Texans to use all means available to gain complete operational control of the southern border. Based on the records of our agency, the Texas General Land Office (GLO) has determined that Fronton Island is state-owned land.”

“… While the federal government refuses to safeguard Texas communities, the GLO will step up and assist our state in its robust border security efforts,” she said. “It is my hope that with access to this island, the GLO can aid our brave men and women on the frontlines of this ongoing border crisis in stemming the tide of this overflow of illegal immigration.”

The GLO noted further, “Fronton Island has served as a hot spot for drug and human trafficking and dangerous cartel activity in the past couple of months. This more than 170-acre island is the latest state-owned island the GLO has allowed DPS to police and patrol in order to stem the flow of illegal immigration and various unlawful, dangerous cartel activities.”

It added that the GLO had already authorized DPS operations on two other islands around Eagle Pass.

On September 25, Olivarez shared a video of what appeared to be a Venezuelan flag planted on a small island near Eagle Pass, claiming that some “illegal immigrants … decided to claim a [Texas] island by placing a foreign flag — that was quickly taken care of by our DPS Tactical Marine Unit.”

Despite the historic levels of unlawful migration at the southern border, White House officials have dismissed concerns expressed by Texas regarding the situation. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre recently said, “The president has done more to secure the border and to deal with this issue of immigration than anybody else.”

“He really has!” she continued, per Fox News. “Look, the president has done what he can from here, from the federal government, from the White House to put forth and manage our border in a safe and humane way to respect the dignity of every human, as he says all the time, and making sure that our communities are safe.”

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