Iowa State Troopers felt ‘culture shock’ in border mission, official says


MC ALLEN, Texas — Drugs, stash houses, high-speed chases, smuggling, human trafficking. Law enforcement may deal with those challenges in Iowa. But they have never seen so much in one region as they did during their two-week special assignment in southwest Texas, near the Rio Grande that separates the United States from Mexico, according to a Texas law enforcement official.

“It was a culture shock for them to actually see this,” said Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety, “There’s one thing to see it on TV but when you’re out there in the elements working on the frontlines, it’s a whole it’s a totally different perspective.”

Olivarez said the group of Iowa law personnel included senior leadership, drug enforcement specialists, and tactical team members. No previous Iowa governor has sent state troopers for a mission like this. But Governor Kim Reynolds, like other Republican governors in Florida, South Dakota, Arkansas, and Nebraska agreed to send state law enforcement to the southern border of the United States to deal with a surge of migrants illegally crossing the border.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott requested the assistance from other states after expressing frustration with President Joe Biden’s administration for not doing more to slow the flow of migrants and drugs coming into his state.

The 28 members of Iowa’s law enforcement did not have the authority to arrest suspects in Texas since they weren’t members of that state’s law agencies. Olivarez said that Iowans instead assisted Texas officers in spotting illegal migrants trying to elude authorities, detect stash houses where smugglers try to hide migrants, and stop illegal drugs from moving through the state.

“They are very beneficial in providing on their skills and their experience,” Olivarez said of Iowa’s involvement, “It’s a great collaboration.”

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