Lawmaker roundtable focuses on lessons learned from state police deployment to U.S.-Mexico borderThursday July 6, 2023
Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little convened a roundtable of legislators and law enforcement officers last week for discussion about how to strengthen Idaho’s response to the fentanyl crisis and to hear directly from the Idaho State Police (ISP) troopers who were deployed to the Texas-Mexico border in May and June.
The meeting occurred as law enforcement officers across Idaho are seeing huge increases in the amount of fentanyl on the street and as Idaho stands up a new drug interdiction team at ISP this month after the Idaho Legislature approved the Governor’s “Idaho First” plan earlier this year.
Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, House Speaker Mike Moyle, Senator Abby Lee, Representative Ted Hill, and Boise Police Detective Mike Miraglia, a member of Governor Little’s Operation Esto Perpetua, joined Governor Little and ISP Director Col. Ked Wills at the roundtable.
“I greatly appreciate my legislative partners for being such an integral part of our continued efforts to secure the border and fight fentanyl. I appreciate and value my strong partnership with the Legislature on many issues, especially ones that make our state as safe as possible,” Governor Little said.
The purpose of the ISP deployment was two-fold: to act as a force multiplier for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to confiscate fentanyl and other drugs and apprehend criminals crossing the border illegally; and to gain firsthand experience and learn up-to-the-minute concealment and enforcement techniques so the troopers can teach other law enforcement officers about current illegal drug trends and updated interdiction techniques.
Two members of the ISP SWAT team and two members of the Domestic Highway Enforcement (DHE) team who were deployed to the border attended the roundtable and described in detail what they learned and experienced on the mission and how it will improve public safety back here in Idaho:
Drug trafficking training
Six members of the ISP DHE team were deployed to the border near Weslaco, Texas. They worked side by side with Texas DPS troopers and learned advanced drug concealment methods being used by transnational criminal organizations to get more drugs across the open border and into our country. They intercepted drugs, smuggled humans, undocumented illegal aliens, individuals with criminal histories, gang members, unlawful firearms, stolen items, and drunk drivers.
Shortly after they returned, the troopers conducted a training with 30 other police officers across Idaho to share what they learned about advanced drug concealment techniques.
Six members of the ISP SWAT team were deployed to Eagle Pass, Texas, including the Rio Grande River. They worked side by side with the Texas DPS Elite Brush Team. The team specializes in human tracking, cross-border smuggling, and enhanced backwoods searches.
“Working with Texas DPS and the other enforcement agencies allowed ISP SWAT to learn new techniques and see how equipment and technology greatly enhance enforcement actions and officer safety concerns. Our experience will be implemented here in Idaho to enhance our human tracking, interdiction, and search and rescue operations,” ISP District 4 Captain Dave Neth said. “Our deployment provided more training than we would receive in any calendar year and highlighted areas for future development.”
Neth added that drug cartels and criminals are getting smarter by continually adapting their smuggling techniques.
“We need to stay cutting edge. Criminals are adapting, and we have to keep up,” Neth said.
ho just entered a new fiscal year with significant new investments in law enforcement:
- New statewide drug interdiction team at ISP to get more drugs off our streets. The team will be led by one of the ISP sergeants we sent to the border to train.
- 6% pay increases plus an additional $1.20 per hour for state law enforcement officials. Governor Little requested 10% pay increases as part of his “Idaho First” plan.
- Improved officer safety by outfitting every state trooper with necessary safety equipment.
- Additional staff to ensure a thorough review of all sex offender registrants.
- New ISP district facilities in Lewiston and Idaho Falls.
- Expansion of drug testing and fentanyl training in our state prisons.
- Funding to stabilize critical training for law enforcement officers.
Governor Little and the State of Idaho have taken the following steps to turn the tide in the fentanyl crisis:
- Idaho launched a campaign, Fentanyl Takes All, to help educate and inform Idahoans, especially our youth and their parents, about the dangers of fentanyl.
- Idaho added more roadside testing equipment to help ISP get fentanyl off our streets more quickly.
- Idaho will add a new statewide drug interdiction team at ISP to intercept fentanyl coming into our state.
- Idaho is improving information sharing between law enforcement, first responders, health care, tribes, coroners and others to tackle the problem strategically.
- Idaho is increasing resources for mental health and behavioral health to help prevent overdose deaths and the tragic human costs of addiction and substance use disorder.
- Governor Little and his administration are continuing to work with border states to help reduce the supply of drugs coming into America across the open border from the drug cartels. Our law enforcement teams have returned to train other police officers in Idaho about what they learned.
Governor Little’s past actions in support of border security, fight against fentanyl
In September of 2021, Governor Little and dozens of other governors plead the President to listen to them about the need to control the border. The letter followed another request sent by the Governors earlier that year, which also went unanswered.
Following the 15-day period with no response from the Biden administration, the governors released 10 policy solutions the administration could enact immediately to protect America, restore security, and put us on a path to end the crisis at the southern border. The administration never responded, and the border crisis has only become more deadly and dangerous for both Americans and migrants in the time that has passed.
Governor Little sent a team of specialized state troopers to Arizona in 2021 to assist with drug interdiction, and he joined half the nations’ governors in creating the American Governors’ Border Strike Force. He also joined a lawsuit challenging Biden’s Title 42 border decision.
Governor Little also hosted a roundtable with Idaho law enforcement in 2021 to discuss Idaho’s growing drug threat and the connection to the U.S.-Mexico border, and he created Operation Esto Perpetua in March of 2022 to protect our children from drugs.
In 2022, Governor Little recommended and the Legislature approved $250,000 to carry out objectives of the initiative, and he directed another $1 million that summer to fight the deadly impacts of fentanyl.
Governor Little launched a campaign, Fentanyl Takes All, to help educate and inform Idahoans, especially our youth and their parents, about the dangers of fentanyl.
Governor Little also requested and the Legislature approved adding more roadside testing equipment to help ISP get fentanyl off our streets more quickly. Idaho will add a new statewide drug interdiction team at ISP to intercept fentanyl coming into our state, and Idaho is improving information sharing between law enforcement, first responders, health care, tribes, coroners and others to tackle the problem strategically. Idaho is also increasing resources for mental health and behavioral health to help prevent tragedy.
Governor Little joined 23 other governors in May in vocalizing their support of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s plea to the nation’s governors to support the state’s efforts to secure the border. He traveled to Texas in May for a briefing and aerial tour of the border crisis and committed two teams of ISP troopers to assist and train with Texas DPS, and convened a group of lawmakers in June to discuss ways to strengthen Idaho’s fight against fentanyl.
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