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Reynolds welcomes Iowa State Patrol officers back from U.S.-Mexico border

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 12:33 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (WOWT) - Gov. Kim Reynolds and other state officials said Wednesday morning that the Iowa State Patrol members deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border made a difference during their mission.

Reynolds welcomed back the 27 ISP members who volunteered to be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border to bolster law enforcement efforts there.

The governor announced the deployment in late June, citing “the rise in drugs, human trafficking, and violent crime” in her decision to dispatch the State Patrol officers to the southern border. Reynolds said earlier this month that Iowa would fund the mission, known as Operation Lone Star, after the release of agreements showing the effort was taking place at “no cost to Texas.”

Authorities said Wednesday that Operation Lone Star cost about $50,000 for “hard” expenses such as lodging, food, and gas; and $100,000 for salary already budgeted for the troopers. The state will also be paying about $150,000 in overtime for the July 9-22 deployment to the Del Rio region along the Texas border.

Reynolds called the expense an investment “that was well-spent” by securing the southern border and putting a humanitarian effort in place.

“It was the right thing to do,” she said.

In addition to providing help protecting citizens, ISP officials said troopers also disrupted criminal activity.

”In the past, when they came across a group of smugglers, usually the smuggler got away, because after the pursuit they would ditch their car and the smuggler would run into the desert and would leave the poor alien in the car or truck; and the trooper had to deal with them — they couldn’t go after the smuggler,” said ISP Capt. Marker Miller. “We wanted to go after the problem: We wanted to go after the smugglers.”

Troopers also ensuring worked to ensure immigrants’ safety.

“At a traffic stop, we even found an immigrant who was laying in the back of a pickup truck and she was so severely dehydrated, that when we called the medics, the medics didn’t think she would’ve made it more than another hour or two without dying,” Miller said.

ISP Col. Nathan Fulk said Wednesday that troopers’ work at the border paid off.

“The overall law enforcement collaborative efforts led to 240 criminal arrests, 51 motor vehicle pursuits, the seizure of 948 pounds of marijuana, the seizure of 37 pounds of cocaine and meth, 18 firearms and seized $1.7 Million in currency,” he said.

The governor said the deployment was also to prevent an increase in fentanyl overdoses in Iowa.

From January to May, Iowa has seized 641 grams of fentanyl, versus 523 grams last year. Overall, Reynolds said, fentanyl seizures are up 78% in 2021 at this point than in all of 2020.

With fentanyl overdoses in Iowa up by 20%, “lives are on the line,” she said.

Meth confiscations were up as well, the governor said, stating that the DEA notes most meth is made in Mexico and smuggled to the U.S.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott formally asked for assistance June 10. Nebraska State Patrol troopers returned from their assignment last week.

Watch Wednesday’s news conference

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