82 / 65
      84 / 67
      84 / 70

      Drug cartel graffiti raises eyebrows along Falcon Lake

      Blue skies and pleasant weather make it a lovely time of the year to visit Falcon Lake.

      Boaters are out on the water hoping to catch a trophy bass or other fish but something found on the shore is raising eyebrows among law enforcement officials.

      Gulf Cartel graffiti was recently found on the American side of the lake at picnic pavilions at Falcon State Park over the weekend.

      Some of the graffiti includes the nicknames of both living and dead Gulf Cartel leaders.

      Other items of graffiti found at the same spot make references to getting high and using drugs.

      Although there are no reports of drugs or violent crime inside park itself, the incident comes more than a year after the death of American tourist David Hartley on the Mexican side of the lake.

      The Zetas drug cartel are blamed in Hartley TMs death but no arrests have ever been arrested and his body has never been recovered.

      Law Enforcement

      Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo ~Sigi TM Gonzalez told Action 4 News that the graffiti is most likely the work of drug cartel 'wannabes. TM

      Sheriff Gonzalez said young people and adults making false claims of belonging to a cartel is dangerous.

      To me, it TMs a serious matter, Sheriff Gonzalez said in a telephone interview. It means we have a problem as far as I TMm concerned. We TMve already had several incidents.

      Gonzalez said a June 2010 murder in Zapata County is attributed to a man who falsely claimed to be with a cartel while in the presence of men who acutually were with a rival cartel.

      The suspects fled into Mexico where they also reportedly took the man's body.

      Another incident involved two young men ramming their cars into each other after falsely claiming to be with rival cartels.

      With the area across Falcon Lake controlled by the Zetas drug cartel, Gonzalez said he TMs worried about actual cartel members starting an incident after seeing false graffiti.

      His deputies are looking into the graffiti at Falcon State Park.

      To me, it TMs a sign that they TMre being more brazen, more open about it, Gonzalez said of those leaving behind drug cartel graffiti.

      State Park Officials

      Officials with Falcon State Park said employees spent part of Tuesday afternoon removing the drug cartel graffiti from picnic pavilions.

      Park Supervisor Carlos Rivas said graffiti is somewhat common in bathrooms and picnic pavilions but gang-related graffiti is not common.

      No suspects have been identified but Rivas said anyone caught putting graffiti on state park property would face criminal mischief charges.

      The months of November through March are busy at Falcon State Park as a number of Winter Texans arrive in the area.

      Warning signs are the park TMs boat ramps warn boaters about traveling on the Mexican side of the lake and asks everyone to report suspicious activity.

      Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) Regional State Parks Director Russell Fishbeck spoke to Action 4 News about the graffiti incident.

      With little to no crime inside Falcon State Park itself, Fishbeck emphasized it's a safe destination for all visitors.

      He said the park is safe and game wardens routinely patrol both the land and the waters of Falcon Lake.

      Fishbeck added that TPWD game wardens work closely other local, state and federal law enforcement officials in the area.

      The park is safe, Fishbeck said. We work closely with local authorities to make sure it TMs safe.