A northern Texas sheriff says his county has seen a big uptick in methamphetamine and heroin seizures since October, saying Mexican drug smugglers are using large groups of migrants to divert Border Patrol’s attention while they run narcotics over the border in nearby areas.
Tarrant County Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn told the Washington Examiner drug seizures have picked up since 2016 and spiked “tremendously” in the past six months just as groups of 100 or more people began showing up at the border.
Heroin busts followed a similar trajectory. Less than one pound of heroin was found by the department in 2016, but last year more than 61 pounds were confiscated. Since October, 20 pounds have been seized.
“We’re several hundred miles away from the border, however, the border does impact us,” he said.
In that six-month time frame, the number of people apprehended while illegally crossing the southern border also increased. Last month, 92,000 people were taken into custody.
Since then, more than 100 large groups of 100 or more people have been encountered between ports of entry. Only two large groups were documented in fiscal 2017.
Waybourn said he learned during a recent visit to McAllen, Texas, that cartels control the Mexico side of the border and migrants who want to illegally enter the U.S. must go through them to do so.
“Interesting thing I found: The cartel owns that border on the other side. Part of their strategic plan is they release and let these over to surrender at certain times. They overwhelm our Border Patrol resources. It gives cartels the ability to move drugs [and] other people that we probably would have never let in,” said Waybourn. “They’re coming in on the flanks.”
The large groups typically arrive in remote spots on the border where agents are far and few between and can take an hour to get reinforcements to the location. While they are overwhelmed with a group, cartels can run other people or products through a nearby area where agents have just come from.
He said drugs are also passing through ports of entry.
Once smugglers have gotten narcotics into the country, they use I-35 to get them north to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Waybourn said.
The heroin and methamphetamine seizures indicate the region is seeing more drugs trafficked through the city, while law enforcement also makes more busts, he said. The sheriff said a gram of meth has gone from around $90 to $100 in 2016 to $20 nowadays.
“The abundance of dope that is coming across that border is the reason for that, and it’s truly supply and demand, and there’s a lot of supply out there,” he said. “The Mexican cartel is pushing it over in incredible amounts … We know the drugs come here, and so are the people,” he said.
Waybourn said 8% of his jail population are illegally in the country and are in custody for allegedly committing an additional crime beyond illegal entry.