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  • Special Operations Division
  • Overview
  • The El Paso Texas Borderland region is uniquely located at the geographic center of the U.S. / Mexico Border between Brownsville, Texas and San Diego, California. This distinctive location makes El Paso an appealing smuggling route for Drug Trafficking Organizations and their contraband as it travels from the interior of Mexico, to large U.S. Cities to the north, east, and west. Consequently, El Paso is also a prime route for illicit southbound currency; the product of illegitimate drug enterprises destined for locations within Mexico. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division was created in response to this criminal activity. The Division is a tight knit conglomerate Local, State, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies pooling resources and working in unison towards the accomplishment of their mission. The Special Operations Division consists of four primary sections. They are:
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  • • Border Crime Initiatives (BCI) / Investigations, Enforcement, K-9, Attorneys and staff.
  • • Emergency Management Unit (EMU) / Emergency Preparedness.
  • • High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Initiatives (HIDTA) / Enterprise, Task Force, Anti-smuggling, Multi-Agency, Transportation, Source City, Attorneys and staff.
  • • Investigative Support Center (ISC) / Intelligence support and deconfliction.
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  • Personnel assigned to the Special Operations Division work in tandem with Special Agents & Investigators from the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Attorney’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, and other local Law Enforcement Agencies. Investigators assigned to the Border Crimes Initiatives are also deputized as Investigators in the 34th Judicial District of West Texas which includes El Paso, Hudspeth, & Culberson Counties. Investigators assigned to the HIDTA Initiatives are designated as Task Force Officers and are granted the same authority as other Special Agents in the respective Federal Agency to which assigned.
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  • Mission Statement
  • The men and women of the Special Operations Division have personally committed utilize all collective efforts & resources to investigate, arrest, dismantle and successfully prosecute all narcotics trafficking organizations and their affiliates involved in the manufacturing, transportation, distribution, selling and use of all illegal drugs in or being transported through the West Texas / El Paso area. Furthermore we will seize all illegal drugs, cash, and other tangible assets associated with and supportive of the illicit drug trade; to investigate, and to arrest, dismantle, and successfully prosecute all money laundering organizations supporting these and other illegal activities.
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  • Continuing Goals
  • Because the illicit drug trade is an intensely complex, international criminal enterprise with the potential to generate enormous sums of profit, those principles involved in this unlawful trade will go to great lengths and employ any/all methods to ensure nothing disrupts their earning potential. Law Enforcement Agencies must be equally as committed to and determined to the triumph of our mission. To facilitate this success, we will achieve the following continuing operational goals:
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  • • Assiduously follow up on and investigate all narcotics activity that comes to our attention.
  • • Continuously cultivate and develop new sources of information to accommodate investigations leading to the disruption of illegal drug activity and the arrest of those involved in such activity.
  • • Adroitly prosecute and successfully convict those individuals involved in illicit drug activity.
  • • Diligently confiscate and seize all illegal contraband, proceeds, and tangible property involved in maintaining and/or in the furtherance of illegal drug activity.
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  • FAQ’s:
  • How do I report suspicious drug related activity?
  • Please remember, criminals know who belongs in a neighborhood and who doesn’t. If they see someone or something that is out of place, they will stop their illegal activity. Therefore citizens are the best source of information and should report what they see. If you suspect illegal drug activity of any kind, we want to hear from you. You may report what you have seen in English or Spanish. Please call the Special Operations Division @ (915) 772-8665, you will remain anonymous and the information you provide will be kept strictly confidential! If you witness illegal drug activity occurring right now, call (915) 546-2280 and an officer will be dispatched to investigate the incident.
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  • What sort of activity should I report to the Special Operations Division?
  • Any activity you believe is suspicious in your neighborhood that could be narcotics related. For example, a high volume of foot or vehicle traffic to a particular residence could indicate narcotics activity or unusual chemical smells coming from a residence could be due to drug manufacturing or growing marijuana. If you do provide information, please leave as much of the following information as you can. Any information you leave will remain confidential.
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  • • Names and/or descriptions of people involved
  • • Addresses/phone numbers at location of suspected activity
  • • Drug type, if known
  • • Vehicle description/license plate
  • • Weapons involved
  • • Type of activity observed
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  • What are some indicators of a stash house?
  • Many times a person sees unusual activity at a house in their neighborhood and think how something is just not right. What follows are some of the things to look for that may suggest a house is being used for purposes other than dwelling:
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  • • Most drug stash houses are rental homes.
  • • Stash house caretakers prefer homes with attached garages.
  • • Yard is unkempt, although sometimes they send someone periodically to clean it up to avoid attention.
  • • Usually little, if any, furniture in the home.
  • • Occupants tend to keep to themselves and they will not be visible on a daily basis. If the occupants are actually living at the stash house, they will not appear to hold a regular job, or have a "normal" pattern of lifestyle.
  • • Different types of vehicles, especially vans and pickup trucks, will enter and exit the garage at different hours of the day or night (quite often they prefer to work in the night time or early morning hours.)
  • • The vehicles arriving at the stash house will have different license plates on them, including Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Mexico. They may often display paper "buyer" or "dealer" tags. They may also use these license plates interchangeably with all of the vehicles.
  • • You may not see anyone at the stash house for several days or weeks, and then there will be a lot of activity (as described above) at the house.
  • • There may be an accumulation of advertisement material on the front door.
  • • Stash house occupants do not usually put their trash out for regular collection, but instead, prefer to dump it at another location themselves.
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  • If you have seen or heard about anything like this, we want to hear from you. Please call the Special Operations Division @ (915) 772-8665, you will remain anonymous and the information you provide will be kept strictly confidential! It is important to understand these activities alone does not mean a house is being used to stash drugs, but all tips will be investigated.
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  • What is a Clandestine Lab?
  • A clandestine lab is a narcotics laboratory or production house frequently referred to as a clandestine drug laboratory or clan lab. These laboratories are mini-chemical labs designed for one purpose: to make deadly, illegal drugs quickly and cheaply. "Clan lab" chemists can produce LSD, synthetic Heroin and other drugs, but their drug of choice is Methamphetamine, commonly called Meth, Speed or Crank. A smokeable form of methamphetamine called Ice, Glass or Crystal is also produced. Not only are these homemade drugs dangerous, but the labs that produce them can be located in any neighborhood and pose serious health and safety threats to the public. Toxic chemicals, explosions, fires, booby traps, armed criminals -- any of these can mean disaster for the people who inadvertently stumble onto the labs. These laboratories have been located in single-family residences, multi-family residences, and as well as in vehicles and various other locations throughout the area. Many of the laboratories have been located with the aid of concerned citizens. Below you will find several signs that may indicate the presence of a clandestine laboratory.
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  • • Strong chemical odors
  • • High volumes of traffic to suspected location
  • • People coming outside only to smoke
  • • Chemical containers coming to and from that location
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  • What should I do if I see or suspect a clandestine lab?
  • Don’t investigate as there may be great danger to you and anyone else in the vicinity. Leave the area at once! Individuals without proper training and protective gear should stay at least 500 feet away from any suspected clandestine laboratory. Immediately contact your local law enforcement agency and report your suspicions. Call 911 if you think you've been exposed to toxic chemicals or if you suspect a chemical leak in your neighborhood. Most law enforcement agencies have narcotics teams and hazardous material units. Investigating & dismantling clan labs is a job for experts only!
 
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