Sheriffs of seven North Texas counties joined together last December in a ground-breaking initiative to intercept illegal narcotics being transported across the region’s roadways, and they shared their initial results with the public this week.
On Wednesday, the sheriffs of Collin, Grayson, Hunt, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, and Wise counties formally announced the creation of the North Texas Criminal Interdiction Unit — the first unit of its kind in Texas and the United States.
The sheriffs said in a press release that in an effort to combat both drug and human trafficking in the region, they “agreed to combine their resources and create the North Texas Criminal Interdiction Unit (NTXCIU): a team of specially trained deputy sheriffs whose mission it is to interdict dangerous drugs, narcotics, contraband and human cargo on established smuggling corridors across North Texas.”
Sheriffs say an integral part of the initiative is the agreement among the cooperating agencies that any deputies assigned to the unit have jurisdictional authority to operate and make arrests within any of the participating counties.
NTXCIU currently has 10 full-time deputies who actively work interdiction, according to a video highlighting the unit’s results so far.
“If you’re involved in narcotics or human trafficking through North Texas, you need to know we are coming for you,” says Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner, who is spearheading the unit.
In the first quarter of its operation, the unit seized 1,479 pounds of marijuana, 61 pounds of methamphetamine, 13 pounds of THC products, 9 pounds of heroin, 5 pounds of cocaine, and a half-pound of fentanyl, as well as eight stolen motor vehicles and four automatic weapons. The estimated street value of the seized contraband is over $6 million, according to Lt. Nick Bristow, Public Information Officer for the Collin County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies also made 57 arrests including two fugitives wanted for capital murder in other states, and recovered two missing children.
Bristow told Texas Scorecard that each participating county is paying for its deputies assigned to the unit, plus costs associated with operating and maintaining vehicles and required special equipment. He said Collin County’s initial start-up cost was about $150,000, paid for using federal forfeiture funds. Annual operating expenses will be paid out of the Special Operations Unit budget, with forfeiture funds used for additional equipment.
The innovative multi-agency interdiction unit looks set for continued success, which Bristow attributes to the cooperation, dedication, and participation of all the sheriffs and their assigned deputies.
Heading the seven agencies participating in the NTXCIU program are Collin County Sheriff Skinner, Grayson County Sheriff Tom Watt, Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks, Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler, Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson, Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, and Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin.