Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gov's homeland security chief backs law enforcement integrity unit

Drug "cartels increasingly recruit law enforcement officers on both sides of the border," said the Governor's homeland security chief Steve McCraw at a meeting this morning of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee. Official corruption, including on the US side, is a "pervasive problem at all levels," he said; "it's not just a Mexican problem.

Indeed, maybe we shouldn't think of transnational smuggling gangs as "Mexican" cartels. McCraw told Sen. Rodney Ellis the "command and control elements" of transnational criminal gangs are probably located closer to the senator's district in Houston than the actual border. Conversely, he said Texas-based gangs have been documented engaging in drug-related violence south of the river.

McCraw advocated creation of a new investigative team that would "leverage the core competency" of the Texas Rangers to work with prosecutors from the state Attorney General's office to "aggressively target law enforcement corruption" at all levels, with or without cooperation from our "federal partners."

McCraw's statements seem to add Rick Perry's gubernatorial imprimatur, as well as a populist spin, to Chairman John Carona's proposal to create a law enforcement integrity unit at DPS (the agency over the Rangers) to investigate official misconduct. Combating US-side corruption is an important missing piece of the puzzle, so I'm glad to hear the Governor's man promoting it. This might also be an excellent way for the Governor to spend some of those new Byrne grant funds just approved by Congress.

See the video from this morning's committee hearing.

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