Some drug smugglers caught at a highway checkpoint about an hour north of the Texas-Mexico border are losing their drugs but not facing prosecution because cooperation between local and federal prosecutors has broken down.
The Border Prosecution Initiative reimburses local prosecutors in border states for taking federal cases, often those involving suspects caught with smaller quantities of drugs.
That allows federal prosecutors to focus on bigger targets.
But for almost three years, tiny Brooks County has refused to pursue such cases because of a debt dispute with the program run by the Justice Department.
Other border counties are frustrated too, because the government has proposed eliminating the reimbursements.
Now prosecutors from Texas to California fear the lack of federal help could allow many drug suspects to go free.