Sunday, April 04, 2010

Border Security: What is the appropriate response?

Progreso interim Police Chief Alberto Rodriguez would like to have a few more guns. Inside the Progreso Police Department, one half of a small building on FM 1015, there’s a copy machine, a dry erase board for recording arrests (just one entry on April 1 for public intoxication), and a few computers. Rodriguez has nine other officers on his police force, and he worries about the home invasions, kidnappings, and drug trafficking that have been seeping into the 4,851 person town in the past year from Mexico, just across the river. But more than a fancy office, or guns, or even fast cars, Rodriguez says this stretch of borderland would benefit from more tactical specialists, who are able to connect the dots between cartels and gangs on this side of the border. The violence in Progreso is clandestine and retaliation is feared. Rodriguez learns of home invasions and kidnappings through gossip rather than police reports. Whether spillover violence is the term used to describe the recent kidnapping of a man from a McAllen Starbucks, or a shooting in a Wal-Mart parking lot, politicians, law enforcement, and intelligence specialists agree with Rodriguez: There has been an increase in certain kinds of drug-related violence along the U.S. side of the border, and the trend is of concern. The question is, what is the appropriate response?...more

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