(From the Governor’s Desk, May 19, 2023)
Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little announced today the details of the Idaho State Police (ISP) deployment he directed to support the State of Texas’ efforts to secure the border and improve Idaho’s ability to interdict illicit drugs to protect Idahoans.
“As we’ve done before, Idaho is responding to the call for help from our neighbors along the border. We used a targeted approach to understand Texas’ needs and wanted to make sure our troopers will bring back what they learn to better protect Idahoans,” Governor Little said. “The focus of the mission is two-fold – the ISP troopers will serve as a force multiplier for the State of Texas when there is an increased need for law enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border, and our troopers will receive on-the-job training and experience up-to-the-minute enforcement techniques that can be brought back and immediately applied in Idaho.”
In addition, Governor Little will travel to Weslaco, Texas, just miles from the Texas-Mexico border, next week to receive a briefing from Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials and fly over hot spots for illegal border crossings. The head of ISP, Col. Ked Wills, will join Governor Little for the briefing and tour.
The ISP deployment follows through on a commitment Governor Little made during his State of the State and Budget Address in January.
Law enforcement reporting shows the supply of illicit fentanyl from Mexico in our region has become much more prevalent. The majority of officers surveyed reported that investigations involving fentanyl were directly tied to sources in Mexico. Approximately 96-percent of drug trafficking organizations investigated identified Mexico as the source country for drugs trafficked into the region.
From 2020 to 2021, the rate of fentanyl-related overdose deaths doubled in Idaho.
ISP deployment helps both Texas and Idaho
Idaho worked with the State of Texas to determine their needs related to border security before identifying a plan that also serves to support Idaho law enforcement.
Two groups of six ISP troopers will deploy for two weeks each to assist and train with Texas DPS. Both groups will enhance their knowledge through varied experiences, such as cross-border smuggling, human trafficking, and drug interdiction.
- The first group, the Domestic Highway Enforcement Team, will focus on drug concealment and interdiction techniques.
- A second group of SWAT troopers will focus on human tracking and searching skills. The SWAT troopers will assist Operation Lone Star’s Elite Brush Teams, who serve as a defense against transnational criminal behavior. They use a variety of sensors, tracking systems, and other techniques to identify dangerous individuals and their intended destination. The ISP troopers will learn from them the latest techniques to implement when responding to critical incidents in Idaho.
The hands-on field training benefits include learning most current techniques used by criminals, which constantly change. They will learn the latest drug smuggling tactics and how to identify them. They will enhance their tracking techniques to benefit local incidents in Idaho and build connections and networks within law enforcement for future investigations.
The troopers will return home to train local Idaho law enforcement on what they learned. The selected troopers are experts and trainers themselves. They help teach hundreds of other state and local law enforcement officers in Idaho about illegal drug trends and updated enforcement techniques.
Governor Little’s past actions in support of border security, fight against fentanyl
Governor Little joined 23 other governors earlier this week in supporting Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s plea to the nation’s governors to support the state secure the border.
In September of 2021, the governors pled the President to listen to them about the need to control the border. The letter followed another request sent by the Governors earlier that year, which also went unanswered.
Following the 15-day period with no response from the Biden administration, the governors released 10 policy solutions the administration could enact immediately to protect America, restore security, and put us on a path to end the crisis at the southern border. The administration never responded, and the border crisis has only become more deadly and dangerous for both Americans and migrants in the time that has passed.
Governor Little sent a team of specialized state troopers to Arizona in 2021 to assist with drug interdiction, and he joined half the nations’ governors in creating the American Governors’ Border Strike Force. He also joined a lawsuit challenging Biden’s Title 42 border decision.
Governor Little also hosted a roundtable with Idaho law enforcement in 2021 to discuss Idaho’s growing drug threat and the connection to the U.S.-Mexico border, and he created Operation Esto Perpetua in March of 2022 to protect our children from drugs.
In 2022, Governor Little recommended and the Legislature approved $250,000 to carry out objectives of the initiative, and he directed another $1 million that summer to fight the deadly impacts of fentanyl.
Governor Little launched a campaign, Fentanyl Takes All, to help educate and inform Idahoans, especially our youth and their parents, about the dangers of fentanyl.
Governor Little also requested and the Legislature approved adding more roadside testing equipment to help ISP get fentanyl off our streets more quickly. Idaho will add a new statewide drug interdiction team at ISP to intercept fentanyl coming into our state, and Idaho is improving information sharing between law enforcement, first responders, health care, tribes, coroners and others to tackle the problem strategically. Idaho is also increasing resources for mental health and behavioral health to help prevent tragedy.