Mar 22, 2022 - News

Report: Abbott’s Texas border security effort fudges crime numbers

Construction work on the border wall in Texas

A section of the wall between Mexico and Texas under construction near Eagle Pass. Photo: Nick Wagner/Xinhua via Getty Images

Gov. Greg Abbott has touted the success of his $3 billion effort to secure the Texas-Mexico border by claiming arrests and crimes that weren’t connected to the operation, according to a ProPublica investigation.

Why it matters: Operation Lone Star costs taxpayers more than $2.5 million a week and is a cornerstone of Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign.

Driving the news: State leaders initially reported 11,000 criminal arrests in connection with the border operation but later removed more than 2,000 charges from the Operation Lone Star tally, including arrests for sexual assault, stalking and cockfighting.

  • Several former law enforcement officials told ProPublica the counts from Operation Lone Star don’t allow the state to gauge what it’s accomplishing, largely because the tallies included 63 counties and work done with resources that were already in place.

Context: Thousands of state troopers and National Guard members have been deployed to the border and are arresting some people coming into the U.S. on state criminal trespassing charges.

By the numbers: Abbott has repeatedly pointed to drug seizures as examples of the border operation’s success during campaign events, saying law enforcement seized 887 pounds of fentanyl.

  • But only 160 pounds of fentanyl captures were part of Operation Lone Star.

Details: ProPublica reviewed the state’s handling of the law enforcement operation in a joint investigation with The Texas Tribune and The Marshall Project.

Go deeper: Read the full investigation here.

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