Today Governor Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers have successfully concluded their deployment to the U.S. Southern Border to aid law enforcement and border security efforts. The mission – Operation Lone Star – provided the Department’s support to the Texas Department of Public Safety in the Del Rio area from July 10-20.
This support was in response to the June 10, 2021, request from Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey seeking law enforcement support from all 50 states. This request was made through Iowa’s existing EMAC, a national interstate mutual aid agreement administered by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management that enables states to share resources during a disaster. More information about EMAC can be found here.
At the time members of the Iowa State Patrol were sent, border encounters had just reached a 20-year high. They rose again in June, topping 1 million for the fiscal year.
“The situation at the U.S. southern border was and remains a humanitarian crisis, with consequences that reach far beyond Texas and Arizona,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds. “As the federal government effectively ignores its constitutional duty to secure our border, states like Iowa must act. By participating in Operation Lone Star, Iowa law enforcement played an important role in promoting humanitarian aid as well as safety and security of all Americans.”
Law enforcement officials are recovering elevated levels of weapons and illegal narcotics smuggled into America. There was a 300% increase in fentanyl seizures in May of 2021 as there were in the same month the year prior. Seizures increased again in June with this year’s total now 78% higher than all of 2020.
Iowa specifically saw 523 grams of fentanyl seized between January and May 2020. Over that same time period in 2021, roughly 6,641 grams of fentanyl was seized – an increase of 1,148%. According to Customs and Border Protection, 93% of heroin found in our country were originally smuggled across the Southern border.
A total of 28 Iowa Department of Public Safety law enforcement officers volunteered to assist the Texas Department of Public Safety with four key mission tasks including traffic duties, humanitarian efforts, tactical operations and human smuggling operations. Those officers included 12 road Iowa State Patrol Troopers, 12 tactical operators, three command staff supervisors and one bilingual investigative agent.
Iowa State Patrol Troopers paired with Texas Highway Patrol Troopers to provide law enforcement duties designed to ensure public safety in the Del Rio area. These officers also worked the heavily trafficked Rio Grande River crossing, helping with rescue efforts and addressing humanitarian concerns.
The mission of tactical operators focused on disrupting criminal activities with teams identifying and searching locations where human smuggling was occurring, identifying drug/narcotics offenses and performing surveillance activities designed to identify criminal activities.
The DPS deployment consisted of 12-hour shifts and concluded with 5,000 hours of duty time. The participating officers represented 5% of the Department’s sworn workforce.
Over the coming weeks, Iowa will continue to evaluate the needs on the border and whether the state’s law enforcement might be useful again to officials on the border. As with Operation Lone Star, any future decision will be subject to Iowa’s own law enforcement needs.