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Authorities combat transnational crime with state intelligence center

Local law enforcement and state legislatures want clarity in transnational crime along the Texas-Mexico border.

Local law enforcement and state legislatures want clarity in transnational crime along the Texas-Mexico border.

McAllen police Chief Víctor Rodríguez says frequent deaths of immigrants in northern ranchlands in the Valley could give a skewed perception of border security issues.

"If [criminal incidents are] not clarified, people will think there's a warzone and basically [immigrants] trying to get around checkpoints," Rodríguez said.

Rodríguez says within the past few years, border security issues led to the Texas House passing House Bill 11 in 2015, allowing for the creation of The Texas Transnational Intelligence Center.

This same legislation funded the Texas anti-gang program to crack down on gang activity in Texas.

Through a memorandum of understanding, the Texas Department of Public Safety agreed to fund the center with $2.4 million. This also includes another $2.5 million from the governor's criminal justice division for the Texas anti-gang portion of the project.

"This is new for a lot of agencies. Right now our first task is to institutionalize our reporting process," Rodríguez said.

Police departments and sheriff's offices in all Texas border counties, along with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will report all crimes to the state's Transnational Intelligence Center in McAllen.

Just last month, McAllen police said that crime in the city continues to drop. Within the last year the crime rate has dropped 12 percent.

That's in contrast to the city of Reynosa, that had one of the deadliest year on record in 2017.

A recent survey from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography in Mexico reported in December that 90 percent of residents in Reynosa said they feel unsafe.

The perception of crime in Hidalgo, which sits just across the river from Reynosa, is starkly different.

“I’ve been living in Hidalgo for 10 years and nothing has happened here,” Saúl Hernández said.

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