After Texas secured Fronton Island from the Mexican cartels, the Biden administration is now saying that the land is federal property. 

Fronton Island is a 170-acre island situated in the Rio Grande between Starr County and Mexico and is known to be a hotspot for Mexican cartel trafficking.

In a letter from the International Boundary and Water Commission, Principal Engineer Ramon Macias asserts that “Fronton Island is federal property and is under the jurisdiction of the IWBC.” Macias asks the Texas General Land Office to remove any obstructions on the land—referencing two sediment bridges the Texas National Guard put in place after Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham certified the island as state-owned property. 

Buckingham posted to X saying Texas won’t hand over ownership of the island. 

“Texas has stepped up, and we have no intention of relinquishing our claim of ownership of Fronton Island,” wrote Buckingham. “As long as the people in that far away U.S. Capitol continue to ignore the people who sent them there, Texas and the @TXGLO, under my direction, will continue to do everything in its power to keep our families and communities safe!”

In the April 30 letter, Macias disputed the claim that the island was Texas’ land, writing, 

“Our respective Survey Office discussed ownership of this island between August 2023 and September 2023. In our review of the Texas General Land Office’s submitted documentation, we cannot confirm when or how the State of Texas formally acquired Fronton Island. The USIBWC assets [sic] that Fronton Island became federal property between 1970 and 1978 pursuant to the 1970 Treaty (with Mexico). If you have documentation that demonstrates otherwise, we respectfully request that you submit such documentation to USIBWC within 30 days of the date of this letter.”

Macias also accused Texas of trespassing on federal land when the Texas Rangers, along with Texas Department of Public Safety officers, planted a flag on the island and disrupted the cartel’s operations.

In September, Buckingham authorized DPS policing and patrolling on the state-owned island. The Rangers then began clearing the vegetation on the island to assume operational control of the area. 

In October, Gov. Greg Abbott instructed the Rangers to plant a Texas flag on Fronton Island to mark Texas’ control. 

“For decades, Fronton Island has been utilized by the Mexican Drug Cartels as a refuge when fleeing from rival cartels and the Mexican Military,” Texas DPS spokesman Lieutenant Chris Olivarez told Breitbart Texas during the operation. “Still, it has primarily been used to facilitate transnational criminal activity involving human and drug smuggling.”

“With the authorization through Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham, the State of Texas has taken over the island by clearing and fortifying it, allowing DPS and the National Guard to gain operational control in preventing cross-border crime,” added Olivarez. 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.