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    Operation Crackdown revitalizes Texas communities, builds partnerships

    Operation Crackdown revitalizes Texas communities, builds partnerships

    Photo By Nadine Wiley De Moura | Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force Commander Col. Miguel Torres shakes...... read more read more

    By: 1st Lt. Nadine Wiley De Moura, Texas Military Department Public Affairs

    AUSTIN, Texas— School children, law enforcement agencies and local community members gathered in Laredo and Harlingen, Texas, to witness the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force demolish the last of 39 crime-ridden buildings during the month of August.

    Although the Soldiers and Airmen who provided their engineering and transportation skill-sets to Operation Crackdown have turned in their heavy duty machinery and hung up their hard hats, their efforts had a lasting impact on the two border communities.

    One of the homes demolished in Laredo, located directly across the street from Francisco Farias Elementary School, was the site of multiple overdoses, gang activities and at one point served as a stash house.

    “We’re Texans serving Texas. We live and we work in these communities. We serve in these communities. For example, in this particular structure [in Laredo], it’s across the street from an elementary school,” said Capt. Paula Palacios, Region South Commander. “Every single day, when these kids came to school and got out of the school, they were walking by this house that was being used for illicit purposes.”

    In Harlingen, the 24 locations Texas Guardsmen demolished accounted for 277 incidents reported in the city over the past three years.

    The incidents reported included assaults, stabbings, domestic violence, prostitution, drug offenses, thefts and other crimes against vulnerable populations.

    “This is a [combined effort] where the city identified a number of structures and so here we are, helping the city demolish these structures for illicit activity,” said Col. Miguel Torres, Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force Commander. “We are reaching out for that goal of keeping our community safe and clean especially from drugs [especially for] the kids.”

    Local law enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents, district superintendents and city authorities collaborated with the Texas National Guard to rally students around the jubilant scene of Guardsmen demolishing the abandoned structures with bulldozers and excavators.

    “We thank the Joint Counterdrug Task Force Program for their continued support to our border community,” said Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz.

    “Operation Crackdown has been of great benefit to Laredo. The demolition of these abandoned structures that have a criminal history symbolizes progress forward and helps us reclaim our neighborhoods for the benefit of all residents…The Texas National Guard has helped us remove the potential for gangs, drugs and other illegal activity in our inner city neighborhoods and for that we are extremely grateful.”

    Master Sgt. Dianne Overshown, non-commissioned officer in charge of the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force Civil Operations, reflected on the multi-agency coordination that went into planning Operation Crackdown in the two border cities.

    “There was a lot of communication between all of the entities. Our Guardsmen stationed in Region South, Border Patrol, the Parks and Recreation compliance department, all helped put this together,” Overshown said. “What we brought to the table were the Task Force members, Army and Air, with their expertise. For these cities it means taking their cities back one structure at a time making it a win for the city, the children and the Texas National Guard.”

    Since 1993, as part of Texas National Guard’s Counterdrug Civil Operations program, Soldiers and Airmen have demolished approximately 1,558 buildings identified by Texas cities as abandoned homes known for illicit activities.

    Operation Crackdown enhances Texas National Guard readiness by allowing Soldiers and Airmen to put their combat engineer (12B) and motor transport operator (88M) skills to work in a real world mission working in tandem with local communities and law enforcement agencies to improve public safety for citizens and their children.

    Structures are identified when the city submits a request detailing the description of the drug nexus, a memorandum of understanding between the city and the Texas Military Department, historical reviews and hold harmless agreements for each site to be demolished.

    Operation Crackdown will head to Dallas in November.

    For more information on how to get your city involved contact Master Sgt. Dianne Overshown at dianne.r.overshown.mil@mail.mil.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.17.2018
    Date Posted: 09.17.2018 13:32
    Story ID: 293083
    Location: AUSTIN , TX, US 

    Web Views: 253
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN