'That's of interest': Armed men spotted across the border more common, DPS says
Migrant and drug smuggling have been a typical sighting during Gov. Greg Abbott's Operation Lone Star, but during a briefing update on Thursday, Texas Department of Public Safety officials say they're now seeing armed men across the border.
Texas DPS and the National Guard say they've seen and heard more gun battles among armed groups south of Starr County.
“This activity that we’re seeing on the Mexican side with men that are armed and have body armor — that’s of interest,” said Texas DPS Regional Director Víctor Escalón.
Officials say an aerial photo showing seven armed men was taken Monday between Diaz Ordaz and Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, which is south of Starr County.
Guadalupe Correa Cabrera, a political science professor at George Mason University, says there’s nothing new about the armed men, adding that it was worse ten years ago.
"It would probably be very convenient for the Texan government to portray this situation in order to justify the existence and the extension of the presence of law enforcement along the Texas-Mexico border," Correa Cabrera said.
During the DPS press conference in Weslaco, state authorities also held their public safety commission meeting where Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw compared organized crime in northeast Mexico to the Islamic state.
McCraw also explained how state police have the intention of detaining people that cross into private property near the border with Mexico, saying they would be building fencing, in agreement with property owners, so that anyone caught crossing the barrier would detained for trespassing.
"We're not going to be processed and immediately released back into the country or sent back across the border to return the next day,” McCraw said.
McCraw added that he's working closely with the Brooks County sheriff in order to detain and prosecute people that have illegally entered private property.