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On Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Florida’s assets are on-scene to assist the State of Texas with the influx of migrants illegally crossing the southern border. Last week, the State of Texas officially requested resources through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) to assist in responding to the substantial public safety and national security threat posed by the federal government’s failure to secure the international border with Mexico.
Through EMAC, states can provide resources, including personnel, to other states to assist in times of emergency. Texas and Florida are parties to this agreement and can accept support from each other at any time through an EMAC request. The EMAC process also ensures resources and personnel deployed for emergency situations are eligible for FEMA reimbursement. In 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis answered the call for support and reinforcements following a letter from Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona requesting immediate assistance with the security crisis overwhelming law enforcement at the southern border.
During Operation Lone Star from June 26 – August 14, 2021, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported the following from Del Rio and Eagle Pass:
- 9,171 undocumented migrant contacts (7,891 adults and 1,190 children)
- 311 criminal arrests, including:
- 79 human smuggling
- 16 stolen vehicles
- 43 narcotics
Operation Vigilant Sentry at Florida’s southern border continues with the State Emergency Response Team facilitating the coordination of state assets to increase coastal vigilance and provide improved situational awareness on migrant activities. This includes working with the United State Coast Guard (USCG) Incident Management Team on migrant interdictions, repatriations, and vessel targeting.
Florida National Guard (FLG)
- The Florida National Guard is supporting the Texas Military Department through mission sets including static observation points, roving patrols, and engineer assistance with obstacle improvement.
- 436 personnel have completed initial orientation, including training on the use of force and narcotic overdose medicine, and are on-scene completing mission sets alongside Texas National Guard counterparts.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)
- Forty FDLE agents and eight support team members are deployed along the Texas border as part of Operation Lone Star. On May 19, agents were sworn in, allowing them to enforce Texas laws.
- FDLE is assisting Texas law enforcement agencies investigating criminal activity along the border associated with human, drug, and weapon smuggling.
- FDLE agents have assisted the Texas Department of Public Safety with 32 arrests, including several gang members. Suspects were arrested on various Texas state charges including human smuggling, firearms, smuggling of persons, and possession of controlled substance.
- As part of the arrests, FDLE agents helped seize cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and a handgun with multiple boxes of ammunition.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) – Florida Highway Patrol (FHP)
- 101 FHP Troopers are deployed in support of Operation Lone Star.
- Two fixed-wing aircraft are deployed, including one with monitoring equipment and downlink capabilities, for monitoring and patrol of the border.
- Two Mobile Command Vehicles (Weslaco and Del Rio) are providing an incident command location for Command Staff and Troopers during incident responses, facilitating real-time operational command, enabling dispatch capabilities, and offering downlink options for both fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. Additionally, the Mobile Command Vehicles support logistical needs by assisting with trooper transportation and equipment conveyance, seamlessly transitioning from one destination to another, thereby enhancing operational efficiency and readiness.
- Five unmanned aerial vehicle pilots with drones are deployed to assist with visualization in areas of dense foliage or low light or during night operations, including surveillance of the border.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
- Twenty sworn FWC officers and two mechanics deployed to Texas to assist federal, state, and local agencies with response efforts.
- Ten shallow draft vessels capable of navigating variable depth river environments and twenty four-wheel-drive patrol vehicles are deployed.