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Criminal Interdiction Unit combats drug smuggling, human trafficking on North Texas roadways

(ROCKWALL, TX — June 27, 2018) The team of deputies making up the North Texas Criminal Interdiction Unit are showing they’re a force to be reckoned with for those smuggling drugs and human cargo across the region’s major highways.

In December 2017, Collin County Sheriff Jim 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 came together with one common goal in mind: to stem the flow of illegal narcotics and human trafficking on established smuggling corridors across North Texas. The sheriffs agreed to combine their resources and form a team of 10 specially trained deputy sheriffs known as the North Texas Criminal Interdiction Unit (NTXCIU). The unit began formal operations on December 18, 2017.

The results of the formation of the NTXCIU have thus far been nothing short of spectacular, if not eye-opening. Within its first quarter of operation the unit made 57 arrests and recovered the following amounts of illegal narcotics:
-1,479 pounds of marijuana
-five pounds of cocaine
-61 pounds of methamphetamine
-nine pounds of heroin

“We are proud of our Interdiction deputies and believe their mission is extremely important in helping to keep our communities safe across North Texas,” said Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner. “I believe that we should attribute the phenomenal successes thus far to couple of things.  First, we have extremely experienced, dedicated and professional Interdiction deputies, intelligence analysts and investigators who support this mission.  Second, we have a group of seven Texas sheriffs that have come together and agreed to work as one in a unified fashion, to stem the flow of narcotics, dangerous drugs and human trafficking in our communities. We have committed to help and support one another, to share resources, and to work cooperatively to combat the scourge human trafficking and help stop the drug epidemic sweeping the nation.”

A press release from the NTXCIU stated the seven-agency initiative is the first of its kind in Texas and the United States, with the unit’s assigned deputies having jurisdictional authority to operate and make arrests within any of the participating counties.

The total street value of illegal drugs recovered by the NTXCIU in its first four months totals more than $6 million.

Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson

“I was absolutely positive that we could be successful with this unit,” said Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson. “But under no circumstances did I think we could take down nearly $6.2 million in street value on narcotics. It has exceeded all our expectations, and everyone who has heard about it has been astounded at our success.”

The unit also recovered a quarter pound of perhaps the most dangerous and extremely potent drug on the streets today: fentanyl. According to Eavenson, fentanyl is 60 times more powerful than heroin. “Probably a quarter pound of fentanyl would be enough to kill everybody in the city of Rockwall,” Eavenson said.

But it’s not all about taking drugs off the streets for the deputies of the NTXCIU. The 645 traffic stops conducted by the unit so far have led to the recovery of two missing children, as well as the arrest of a couple suspects wanted for capital murder.

At 4 a.m. on Dec. 30, 2017, a NTXCIU deputy made a traffic stop on a vehicle with three occupants for a faded-out paper license plate. One of the vehicle’s three occupants had a warrant for capital murder out of Hot Springs, Arkansas. The warrant was only a couple months old. A search of the vehicle yielded seven pounds of methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl, as well as three illegal weapons, two of which were fully automatic Glock 19 handguns.

Eavenson said had it not been for the timely backup of Rockwall County Sergeant Knox Oakley and an additional third unit, the situation might have been a lot worse.

“The three illegal weapons in that car were within reach of any one of the three occupants,” Eavenson said. “I believe if the NTXCIU deputy had been there by himself, it might not have gone off as well as it did. It exemplifies that because of the danger out there, it’s important for Rockwall County and all agencies to have adequate personnel to be able to respond in a timely manner on backup.”

A traffic stop made by a NTXCIU deputy on Jan. 3, 2018 caught another suspect wanted for capital murder out of Los Angeles, California. The unit rescued a five-year-old child who was in the vehicle, and the woman was extradited back to California.

“It shows us that there are some bad people running up and down our main highways out here,” Eavenson said. “And it’s not all about the drugs; Those people who are involved in drugs are usually involved in every other type of felony there is. So it’s not only good that we’re taking the drugs down, but we’re getting some bad people off the roads as well.”

Sheriff Skinner said he believes the current success of the NTXCIU will only continue thanks to the ongoing support of community citizens, County Commissioners, district attorneys and elected public officials.

“It is this collaborative effort to tackle a real and emerging threat that will make a true difference in the months and years ahead here in North Texas,” Skinner said.

By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News. Photos courtesy of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office.

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