NEWS

Unrest in Mexico Triggers Texas' Border Security Plan

By Matthew Harwood

Coordinated protests and a violent, drug-related shootout just over the border in Mexico spurred Texas officials to activate the state's border security plan last week,  reports South Texas'  The Monitor.

Last Tuesday demonstrations against the Mexican government's militarizaiton of its war on drugs broke out  in the border towns of Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, and Ciudad Juarez. In Reynosa, a military raid on an alleged drug lord's home left at least six people dead. Already this year, approximately 260 people have died in the country's campaign against warring drug cartels. Although estimates vary, the dealths of nearly 6,000 people have been attributed to narcotics-related activities.

Severe and escalating violence in Mexico has stoked fear in border states that the unrest could spill over into U.S. border areas. To prepare, Texas developed the Border Star Contingency Plan. The confidential plan, according to The Monitor, concentrates on five threat areas across the state's border areas and identifies escalating scenarios that help determine whether local, state, or federal law enforcement assets will be responsible for restoring order. In the most critical situation, state officials may call in the Texas Army National Guard.

The Monitor reports:

The violence remained confined to the Mexican side of the border, but the incident provided a good test run for the lowest levels of the Border Star contingency plan, said Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for the governor.

"We're doing what we can to fill in the gaps from a state level," she said.

Throughout the day, a central operations center in Austin sent constant intelligence updates to state, local and federal law enforcement agencies up and down the border. They kept in constant contact over a designated radio band as the situation developed.

That state of heightened alert makes up the lowest level of response outlined in the security plan.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has developed a federal border surge plan for the prospect of cross-border unrest, partly in response to a Pentagon report theorizing that Mexico's government could collapse under the weight of its drug war.  The federal plan, like Texas's, has not been released publicly.

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