"The Texas-Mexico border has become a lawless region. Ranchers and their families along the border need more protection from Mexican criminals. Securing our border requires immediate attention."

So testified Roland Garcia, Special Ranger for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), during a joint hearing to evaluate the effectiveness of state programs in controlling drug-related crimes and other violence along the Texas-Mexico border.

"While border security has always been a critical issue in Texas, the recent death of an Arizona cattle rancher has brought the issue to the forefront of the ag community," Garcia says. The hearing was held by the Texas House Committee on Border and Intergovernmental Affairs and the Texas House Committee on Public Safety.

Garcia is assigned to a district encompassing eight counties on the Texas-Mexico border. He and the other 28 Special Rangers in Texas and Oklahoma are commissioned by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and/or the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation to investigate ag crimes, primarily livestock and equipment thefts.

Info provided to TSCRA by confidential sources in Mexico say that livestock and ag equipment thefts occurring throughout Texas make their way to Mexico. These thefts are often used in trade for the purchase of drugs to fund violent gangs.

Garcia says Texas ranchers along the border fear they may be targets of kidnappings for ransom.

According to Garcia, some Texas ranchers have received death threats for reporting illegal activities to law enforcement. Many borderland owners have chosen to remain silent and not report the threats for fear of retaliation.

Interviews with international cattle raisers have also raised concerns for the purchase of U.S. livestock. International livestock buyers fear travel to border towns for fear of piracy along traveled roads and violent encounters with gang members.
-- TSCRA release