NEWS HEADLINES

Joining forces: Counties create criminal interdiction unit

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, June 2, 2018
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Sheriffs Assemble

SHERIFFS ASSEMBLE – Representatives from seven North Texas sheriff’s departments spoke at Wednesday’s press conference in McKinney announcing the formation of the North Texas Criminal Interdiction Unit. Messenger photo by Brian Knox

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with six other area counties to form a specialized unit aimed at stemming the flow of illegal narcotics and human trafficking along major roadways in North Texas.

Although the North Texas Sheriffs’ Criminal Interdiction Unit (NTXCIU) has been operational since December, the seven participating law enforcement agencies held a press conference Wednesday in McKinney to announce the formation of the group and detail the results during the first quarter of its operation.

Sheriff’s offices from the seven participating counties – Wise, Collin, Grayson, Hunt, Parker, Rockwall and Tarrant – each dedicate officers and equipment to the unit.

Once or twice a month, the NTXCIU will saturate a certain area within the seven-county area, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said.

In Wise County, the unit has been responsible for a traffic stop that yielded 677 pounds of marijuana hidden in an RV traveling south on U.S. 81/287 on Jan. 14. Another NTXCIU traffic stop along U.S. 81/287 northbound near County Road 4421 on Jan. 23 resulted in the discovery of a 17-year-old female passenger who had been reported missing by the Houston Police Department.

“(She) was being driven to Colorado by the two men who were in the car,” Akin said. “She later revealed that she only knew the men through the social media application SnapChat.”

The driver of the car was arrested for a theft warrant out of Victoria and the other man was released. The teen was released to Child Protective Services.

Overall, the NTXCIU has been responsible for the seizure of:

  • $60,000 of hidden currency
  • 1,479 pounds of marijuana
  • 5 pounds of cocaine
  • 61 pounds of methamphetamine
  • 9 pounds of heroin
  • 1/2 pound of fentanyl
  • 13 pounds of THC products
  • eight stolen vehicles
  • four automatic weapons.

The deputies also arrested two fugitives wanted for murder and recovered two missing children, including the one in Wise County.

Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn said the NTXCIU shows that law enforcement agencies in North Texas will stand together to tackle these types of crimes.

“We’re going after human trafficking with the gusto of a hound dog,” Waybourn said. “We are going after these drug smugglers with vigor, and our response today, with unity, is if you are doing wrong in these counties, we’re coming for you. We are coming after you. And the good citizens of our counties know that we are doing everything we possibly can with the resources we have to stand between good and evil and make sure that you rest peacefully tonight.”

Several of the sheriffs mentioned that the unique structure of the NTXCIU works as a force multiplier as officers from other counties will assist local deputies.

“What’s unique is my deputy in Collin County can go to Sheriff Akin’s jurisdiction on 287, can make a lawful arrest, and he has the authority to do so and operate as a deputy under Akin when he’s over there. It’s the same for all these other deputies who come over here,” Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said.

Wise County currently has two officers committed to the unit, but the department may add a third officer this summer, Akin said.

Members of the NTXCIU all wear the same uniform with a unique patch which is also featured on the vehicles driven by the unit. Akin said Wise County contributed a spare vehicle for use by the unit in addition to the officers and their equipment.

“No money is involved,” he said.

The sheriff said his officers are also gaining valuable knowledge working with some officers who have years of experience working interdiction.

“It’s a pleasure to have them in Wise County, and it is a pleasure to be learning from them because of their understanding of interdiction and the intricacies of such an investigative style,” Akin said.

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