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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
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    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion

    Texas game wardens, unlikely border guards ... 844823.htm

    Posted on Sat, Jun. 17, 2006

    Texas game wardens, unlikely border guards


    LOPENO — In Washington, congressmen are talking about building border walls and the president is dispatching soldiers to combat illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

    But on any given day at Falcon Lake in South Texas, patrolling 30 miles of often treacherous international boundary rests in the hands of a half-dozen officers from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife. Indeed, anywhere on the Rio Grande or even far out into the Gulf of Mexico, Texas game wardens can be found patrolling international waters.

    They have traditionally focused on the apprehension of Mexican fishermen who illegally poach game in U.S. waters. But over the years the border-area wardens, operating on a tight budget and often forced to use recycled military M-16s and borrowed night-vision goggles, have begun taking on added international enforcement responsibilities.

    From the Gulf of Mexico to El Paso, the Parks and Wildlife Department has become a de facto state border patrol agency, and its wardens routinely apprehend smugglers carrying narcotics or illegal immigrants.

    “We are unique in that we have the waterways,” said Col. Pete Flores, chief of law enforcement for the department. “We’re the primary agency for marine enforcement.”

    There’s a lot of water to cover.

    Texas coastal territory, historically defined by Spanish conquistadors, extends nine nautical miles, or three times farther into the high seas than any other area except the western coast of Florida. The agency coordinates its activities with the U.S. Coast Guard, sharing intelligence on suspected drug smuggling operations, wildlife poaching and other criminal activity, Flores said.

    And in recent years on the 87,000-acre Falcon Lake, wardens have taken out hundreds of pounds of cocaine and marijuana, immigrant smugglers — even hauls of contraband cheese and brandy.

    Hardly a week goes by that the wardens don’t apprehend fishermen using gill and hoop nets, banned in Texas for decades because of their destructive effect on wildlife.

    Although the U.S. Border Patrol is in charge of enforcing the law on the international boundaries, the federal agency already has it hands full patrolling the banks of the Rio Grande, and the local Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have the resources for patrols of Falcon Lake, Capt. Chris Huff said.

    “We’re the only ones out here as far as law enforcement,” said Huff, the game warden who oversees the lake operations. “I think we play an important part of border security ... we never know what we’re going to stop out there.”

    In the recently concluded Operation Pescador targeting illegal Mexican netters this spring, the wardens arrested 35 commercial fishermen, seized 27 boats and motors and confiscated 113,600 feet of gill net, officials said.

    Another crackdown throughout fiscal 2003 yielded 8,734 pounds of marijuana. And since 1996, the agency has confiscated hundreds of pounds of cocaine, over 300 commercial boats and mile upon mile of prohibited nets. Last year, three Mexican suspects threatened two game wardens with knives until more agents arrived in a boat. Before they were apprehended, the suspects were seen dumping cocaine overboard, officials said.

    Gill nets are not illegal in Mexico, so the temptation for fishermen to go into Texas waters is strong. Thanks to a 1991 law the Texas wardens advocated, the state can now seize the commercial boats, which has helped cut down on repeat offenders. But some fishermen are arrested again and again.

    When the Star-Telegram accompanied the wardens on a spring outing, two fishermen, Gabriel Caballero and Hector Cruz, were arrested and jailed after being caught using gill nets, officials said.

    It was the duo’s third arrest in a little over a year — and the third time they had their boats and nets confiscated. They accepted their arrest and detention with the fatalism of people who have little to lose.

    “Look, fishing is our livelihood,” explained Caballero, 33, as he sat handcuffed in the back of a game warden’s boat.

    “On our side we don’t catch anything, and here we get a few kilos more,” he said. “We do it to survive and nothing else. We have families to feed, too. We have small children. What are we supposed to do?”

    Caballero and Cruz were both fined $500 — double the previous amount — and, unable to pay, spent 10 days in jail.

    If they want to get back in the game, the men will have to get a new boat and some gill net, which costs 75 cents a foot in Mexico. Jesse Garcia, who was involved in the arrest, said the wardens’ presence helps deter crime, even if it doesn’t stop people like Cruz and Caballero from trying.

    “Their engines and nets are subject to forfeiture, and you know that takes a hit on them,” Garcia said. “If they actually have an employer, he’ll probably supply them with another boat motor and some more net and they’ll get back to fishing again.”

    On the Mexican side of the lake in Ciudad Guerrero, where many commercial fishermen live, markets brim with fish caught on Falcon Lake — they don’t say which side of the border they were caught on — and restaurants serve freshwater game fish that would be illegal to sell in a Texas eatery.

    For Cruz, fishing is a way of life, and he said it’s the only industry in which he can make about $100 a week. If that means crossing into Texas waters from time to time, he’s willing to take his chances.

    “If I need to I will,” he said. “What else am I going to do?”

    Operation Pescador
    35 commercial fishermen arrested

    27 boats and motors seized


    feet of gill net confiscated

    Jay Root, (512) 476-4294
    Support our FIGHT AGAINST illegal immigration & Amnesty by joining our E-mail Alerts at

  2. #2
    Senior Member nittygritty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    “If I need to I will,” he said. “What else am I going to do?” (Quote)

    That about says it all don't it? Whatever we have they want, they are going to get it regardless of our laws! I wonder if they the game warders, shoot at these boys, like they do at "our" poor rednecks poaching a deer to help feed "their" hungry families? Somehow I doubt it, we seem to take much more seriously laws that are broken by US citizens then when the same laws are broken by illegal aliens! I guess it is a good thing those game warderns can also be in on this fight though, we will take whatever we can get!
    Build the dam fence post haste!

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