COMMISSIONER STAPLES JOINS LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS FOR OPENING OF NEW BOAT RAMP TO HELP FIGHT CARTEL CRIME ON RIO GRANDE RIVER
Ramp dedicated to ICE agent Jaime Zapata who was killed by Mexican drug cartel members
HIDALGO — While the federal government continues to suggest the Texas/Mexico border is safer than ever, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples today joined state, federal and local officials for the opening of a new law enforcement-use boat ramp dedicated to fallen U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Zapata. In February 2011, Zapata was ambushed and killed in the line of duty by Mexican drug cartel members. His parents were present at today’s dedication ceremony.
“The dedication of this facility honoring the memory of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made every day by our law enforcement personnel who heroically protect our lives, property and sovereignty,” Commissioner Staples said. “The men and women who have taken the oath to protect and serve us are the heroes who stand between the violent cartel members and our peaceful homes and precious families. This boat ramp not only will serve as a launch point for our law enforcement agents to defend us, but also will send a message to the Mexican drug cartels that we mean business when it comes to protecting our citizens, our soil and our water supply.”
Construction of the boat ramp began 10 months ago after employees of the adjacent Hidalgo County Water Improvement District #3 pumping station were fired on from across the border. Located on the Rio Grande River, the pumping station construction site was more recently raided by invading thieves, causing continued fear and concern for employee safety.
Joining Commissioner Staples at today’s boat ramp opening were Sen. Eddie Lucio, officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Border Patrol officials and members of Hidalgo law enforcement. Following the ramp’s official opening, DPS and Border Patrol boats were launched into the Rio Grande River.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Staples testified before the Texas House Homeland Security and Border Affairs Joint Committee Hearing in Copperas Cove. Earlier this month, he testified before the Texas Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security regarding the need for increased federal resources to secure the Texas border.
“Saying ‘our border is safer than ever’ sends a dangerous message that we are satisfied with the status quo and that we will not run these narco-terrorists out of business,” Commissioner Staples said. “The only message we should be sending is this: We will meet any opposing force with greater force and we will not cede one inch of Texas soil.”
Last September, Commissioner Staples commissioned a strategic assessment of the Texas/Mexico border titled “Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment.” The report, which chronicles the impact of violent drug cartels and transnational criminal organizations, was co-authored by retired four-star Army General Barry McCaffrey and retired two-star Army Major-General Robert Scales who offered a military perspective on the porous southern border and its implications as a national security threat.
“This is not just a Texas problem, but rather a national security breach,” Commissioner Staples said. “Law enforcement in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston have confirmed that cartels have gangs operating in these cities. I, for one, have no tolerance for these criminals trespassing on the soil, the sovereignty and the rights of the United States of America.”