Texas Gov. Rick Perry has announced that the state, working in concert with the U.S. Border Patrol, will begin cracking down on commercial truckers who knowingly smuggle illegal weapons, drugs or humans across the Texas-Mexico border. The Republican governor directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to work with Border Patrol in an initiative dubbed “Texas Hold ‘Em” to revoke the commercial driver licenses of those convicted of felony smuggling.
“The vast majority of Texas truckers are law-abiding citizens who work incredibly long hours to feed their families and keep our economy moving,” Perry says. “But there are those who are breaking the law to make a quick buck. And to those lawbreakers, we are sending the message — if you knowingly smuggle goods across the Texas border, you will lose your license and your livelihood.”
Perry says Texas border security operations have put mounting pressure on Mexican crime cartels and other crime organizations to find alternate ways of smuggling contraband into the state; this includes recruiting commercial drivers to transport contraband, including drugs and humans, across the border in return for bribes.
In the first eight months of fiscal year 2008, Border Patrol agents in Texas intercepted 423 tractor-trailers resulting in the detainment of more than 1,800 undocumented immigrants and more than 112,000 pounds of illegal drugs, according to Perry; in the Laredo area, 330 truck drivers have been caught smuggling drugs or humans into Texas in the last 18 months.
The “Texas Hold ‘Em” initiative includes revoking CDL privileges for felony convictions; increasing awareness of smuggling penalties; initiating a public service announcement campaign; and creating a “tipster” hotline and offering rewards for information leading to felony smuggling convictions.