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      DPS releases data from controversial checkpoints

      Facebook page to report DPS checkpoints // File Photo

      The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has released data from a series of random checkpoints that created controversy in the Rio Grande Valley back in September.

      DPS reports that state troopers participating in "Operation Strong" set up a total of 12 traffic regulatory checkpoints to increase compliance with driver license, insurance, vehicle safety and registration law.

      Out of the 1,705 vehicles stopped at the checkpoints, state troopers issued 281 citations and 249 warnings for driver license, liability insurance, vehicle registration or inspection violations.

      State troopers arrested 29 people for outstanding warrants at the checkpoints.

      The checkpoints had created fear and civil rights concerns among some Valley residents, who created Facebook pages and used other social media to report them.

      Texas State Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) questioned the checkpoints and their motives.

      DPS released data from the checkpoints in a Thursday afternoon press release.

      The agency said in a statement that the checkpoints never used to ascertain immigration status, so no immigration arrests were made at any checkpoints.

      DPS further also reported that the U.S. Border Patrol was not involved in this aspect of the checkpoints initiative.

      The agency reported a 13 percent increase in driver license transactions at area driver license offices during the initiative compared to the three weeks prior.

      According to DPS, traffic crashes also decreased by 18 percent during the operation as compared to the three weeks prior, while injury crashes decreased by 20 percent and fatality crashes by 25 percent.

      DPS reported there was a dramatic drop in drug smuggling and money laundering in the area during Operation Strong in Cameron, Hidalgo, Kenedy, Starr and Willacy counties: 49 percent decrease in marijuana seizures 42 percent decrease in cocaine seizures 95 percent decrease in methamphetamine seizures 185 percent increase in U.S. currency seizures 67 percent increase in recovery of stolen vehicles 74 percent decrease in felony pursuits 31 percent decrease in Operation Drawbridge camera detections

      State troopers also took 177 unsafe 18-wheelers and other commercials out of service with 44 unsafe drivers also taken out of service.

      DPS said it will continue to conduct surge operations along the Texas-Mexico border as necessary to combat Mexican drug cartels, human smuggling and related crimes such as chases and home invasions.