In order to get the big picture, the South Texas Border Intelligence Center that opened last year, has analysts from up to 20 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
“What it does is speeds up the intelligence, the sharing of intelligence,” said Pablo Gonzales, an assistant commander for the South Texas Campaign against transnational criminal organizations.
“We can share that with everybody, with the people who need to know it.”
A recent example involved the San Antonio fugitive wanted in last month’s hit-and-run death of Tatyana Babineaux, 9.
A spokeswoman for the STX BIC said minutes after issuing a bulletin, 39-year-old Isidro Espinosa-Solis was caught re-entering the U.S. at one of the international bridges in Laredo without any documentation. He’s now awaiting trial in San Antonio.
“That’s an example of what goes on,” said Laredo Police Chief Ray Garner. He also said shared intelligence resulted in being able to quickly solve one of the city’s three homicides last year.
Garner said times have changed given how territorial law enforcement agencies used to be about their cases.
“It was like pulling teeth from a tiger trying to get information from other agencies,” Garner said. “No man is an island. No agency is an island.” He said the new concept had been in operation for a while, meeting weekly, trading information.
But now the intelligence analysts are under one roof around the clock at U.S. Border Patrol headquarters in Laredo.
A spokeswoman for the office of Rep. Henry Cuellar said $3.5 million was used for a secure facility housing personnel assigned on a full-time or part-time basis.
Agencies include the Laredo Police Department, the Webb County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Rangers, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and analysts from a slew of federal law enforcement agencies in Laredo.
There is also a border liaison officer that is in constant communication with counterparts in Mexico.
Gonzales with the South Texas Campaign said border security is more than statistics, it’s about intelligence-gathering and sharing.
“What we’re doing is we’re going after those actual people who doing the harm,” he said.