Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples has long been an advocate for heightened border security along the Texas/Mexican border, evidenced by numerous press releases on the topic and even testimony before the a U.S. Congressional panel about the dangers and threat posed by what he terms “narco-terrorists” illegally crossing the Rio Grande River in rural areas of the state and trespassing on Texas farm and ranch property near the border.
On Tuesday, Aug. 21, the Commissioner will unveil a new on-line video series during a presentation at a narco-terrorism conference at Angelo State University in San Angelo that he says documents the escalating threat to Texas farmers and ranchers.
Titled “Texas Traffic – True Stories of Drug and Human Smuggling,” the commissioner says the video series will represent a major part of his address. In a press release, Staples says the interactive presentation will detail the ongoing border crisis and calls for increased federal resources to help secure the border in an effort to protect Texas agriculture from illegal intrusion by organized cartel operatives.
The three-day conference titled “International Transborder Narco-terrorism: Addressing a Changing Environment,” will examine how cartel crime and drug trafficking at the U.S./Mexico border are fueling transnational terrorism, insurgency, criminal gang activity, money laundering, and weapons and human smuggling into Texas.
Staples says Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has repeatedly said the US/Mexico border is “as secure now as it has ever been,” but the commissioner told members of the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security at a field hearing that "the bottom line is our border is not secure."
Instead, he told the panel last September: "What we have are transnational criminal organizations basing their operations in a foreign country and deploying military-type incursions on American soil."
The event will bring together policy strategists and field operators and tacticians for dialogue, networking and information exchange. It will also serve as a training forum and opportunity for Texas peace officers to receive Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers (TCLEOSE) credits.
Staples says field personnel will have opportunities for networking and training at the conference, as well as participation in breakout sessions with current information on the homeland threats of drug cartel violence and the strategies and tactics of those groups.
International, federal, state and local law enforcement, military leaders, and state and national lawmakers will discuss these issues and more during the three-day conference.
Supporters of a larger federal presence on the Texas border point to a recent survey that illustrates how rural property values along the border have devalued in recent years as a direct result of illegal narco-terrorist traffic and activity.
Staples says Texas farmers and ranchers along the border live in fear as escalating intrusions continue devaluing property and threatening lives of property owners who must watch as armed intrusions continue in spite of what he termed inadequate federal border security measures.
The conference gets underway at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 21 at the C.J. Davidson Conference Center, 1910 Rosemont, in San Angelo.
For more information, visit the official conference web site.