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State police troopers return from mission to the U.S.-Mexico border

From the Governor of Idaho Office

Boise, ID – Governor Brad Little announced today the return of two teams of Idaho State Police (ISP) troopers deployed in April to support the State of Texas’s efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

Governor Little announced the three-week mission during his State of the State and Budget Address in January, with a focus on human trafficking.

The 10 troopers built valuable relationships and enhanced their knowledge on how to curb human trafficking, the illicit drug trade, and other illegal activities facilitated by the lack of resources at the southern border.

“In Idaho and across the country, reports of human trafficking are on the rise. Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies are seizing record amounts of fentanyl, meth, and other dangerous. In too many cases, this illegal activity can be traced right back to cartels and other bad actors taking advantage of our lawless southern border,” Governor Little said. “The troopers we deploy to Texas come back with better knowledge to stop these perpetrators in our state. As they have done before, our troopers will debrief and train their law enforcement colleges around the state so we can protect Idahoans from these deadly, dangerous threats.” 

Under the guidance of Governor Little’s IDAHO WORKS plan, ISP troopers were able to assist the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers and partnering states in innovative new ways to combat crime at the southern border.

This collaboration deepened ISP troopers’ understanding of trafficking operations through joint patrols and border protection, representing a significant interstate effort.

“We are very proud of what we are doing and stand solely behind the Governor. What we observed down there was absolutely eye-opening,” said ISP Sgt. Christopher Cottrell about his experience during the deployment to Texas. “It is a very scary world, and Idaho is largely protected, but the more we discover, the more we realize that some of this stuff is in plain sight, and we didn’t know it at all.”

This initiative was designed to aid law enforcement efforts and enrich educational programs in Idaho. Insights from the mission will be integrated into the Domestic Highway Enforcement (DHE) courses for Idaho law enforcement, leveraging firsthand experience to bolster the fight against human trafficking. The partnership highlights a proactive, shared commitment to public safety and eradicating trafficking networks.

“Dispatching our Idaho State troopers to aid Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) at the border was a crucial step in strengthening cross-state law enforcement efforts and combatting illicit activities such as human trafficking,” ISP Lt. Colonel Sheldon Kelley said. “Our troopers acquired invaluable insights and firsthand experience while helping fortify border security measures. We are committed to leveraging this collaboration to improve overall safety and security, ensuring the well-being of communities in Idaho.”

Additional actions Governor Little has taken to help secure the border include:

In September of 2021, he joined half of the nation’s governors in issuing a joint letter to President Joe Biden requesting a meeting within 15 days to discuss the crisis at the southern border. The invitation for the President to listen had followed another request they sent earlier that year, which also went unanswered.

Following the 15-day period with no response from the Biden administration, Governor Little and other 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. He joined half the nation’s 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 its connection to the U.S.-Mexico border, and created Operation Esto Perpetua in March of 2022 to protect our children from drugs. Governor Little recommended, and the Legislature approved $250,000, to carry out the initiative’s objectives, and they directed another $1 million  to fight the deadly impacts of fentanyl. Governor Little’s Idaho First plan included even more resources to combat fentanyl.

In May of 2023, Governor Little announced the deployment of two teams of Idaho State Police troopers to the Texas border to assist in their efforts to secure the border and enhance the knowledge of our law enforcement techniques through hands-on experience with cross-border smuggling, human trafficking, and drug interdiction. The teams then returned to Idaho to train other law enforcement agencies within the state. This fulfills Governor Little’s commitment made in his State of the State and Budget Address that year.

In May of 2023, Governor Little traveled to Texas to attend a border security briefing alongside nine other governors to receive an overview of Operation Lone Star. This included an explanation of the tools and strategies that the State of Texas has found effective in deterring and repelling illegal immigration along the border with Mexico. This briefing was hosted by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Military Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the Texas Border Czar, who all provided on-the-ground intelligence about the border crisis. Governor Abbott recognized the assistance Idaho and Florida have provided for Texas. Since then, thirteen states have provided more than 1,300 guardsmen and more than 230 law enforcement personnel to attempt to slow the flow of drugs into the United States.

After his return, Governor Little assembled a roundtable of law enforcement, legislators, and others to discuss and determine new ways that Idaho can assist border states and gain additional experience on drug interdiction to protect our Idaho communities.

In 2024, Governor Little announced in his State of the State and Budget Address that he would send another two teams of state troopers to Texas, focusing on assisting with and learning about tactics to deter human trafficking. He also signed on to a 25-Governor statement supporting the State of Texas’ efforts to defend and protect America from the consequences of the open border.

Governor Little joined 13 other governors on a trip to Eagle Pass, Texas, and issued a proclamation declaring Idaho stands with the State of Texas in its border security efforts. He issued an executive order expanding Operation Esto Perpetua beyond fentanyl to include human trafficking and signed two bills into law that strengthen the state’s fight against human traffickers.

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