El Paso, Texas — Wearing baggy jeans and hoodies and looking scruffy and unkempt, the state’s elite undercover team could easily be mistaken for the scruffy smugglers they attempt to apprehend or migrants crossing Mexico’s southern border.
These specially trained members of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigations Division have perhaps the most dangerous job on the border, acting as double agents and facing certain death if their cover is blown. .
Their mission is to blend in with the hordes of migrants, identify and apprehend cartel members, human traffickers and drug traffickers, as part of the DPS’s efforts to keep criminal elements out of enter the United States.
The unit is so secretive that DPS officials refuse to say how many agents are part of the department, where they specifically operate or allow them to pose for photographs that would reveal their identities, for security reasons.
“We really can’t say anything,” said Matthew Mull, senior officer of the DPS’s Criminal Investigations Division in El Paso during the Post’s ride with the DPS earlier this week.
Members of CID worked alongside DPS drivers to provide them with coordinates to track down a group of smugglers carrying more than a dozen migrants in an overloaded Jeep on Wednesday.
A handful of CID agents in jeans and hoodies entered a hiding place and arrested two young smugglers.
The Post’s eyewitness reporter to the raid said: ‘We couldn’t tell the difference between who the migrants were and who the agents were. It wasn’t until I opened their coats that I saw their badges. None of them spoke.
The soldier with us said they were the elite team.
“They were grizzled, hard beaten guys who looked like they had seen it all. Tough guys. »
The cartels typically recruit teenage drivers from the US side of the border to transport illegals in cars to and from hideouts.
CID agents are involved in numerous investigations and agencies on both sides of the border.
Their website states that its “staff works with internal and external stakeholders across the state and internationally to identify, investigate, disrupt and/or dismantle drug trafficking, human trafficking and organizations of criminal gangs”.
In addition to tracking organized crime, a separate branch of CID handles special investigations, while another offers surveillance, forensics, and other support services.
CID agents provide a stark contrast to their DPS counterparts, who wear tan uniforms and cowboy hats along with shiny black boots.
“It’s just the way they like to dress,” Mull told the Post. “It’s usually their way of doing business.”
The CID unit was created during World War II and was then known as Criminal Law Enforcement. In 2009, when the DPS underwent an overhaul, the unit was renamed with an emphasis on intelligence gathering and including a mentorship program for state troopers who can choose to train with the unit, which also investigates vehicle theft, Mull said.