LAGRANGE — Information learned on a trip to Tucson, Arizona and at the border earlier this fall, will be beneficial for officers in LaGrange and Noble County.
LaGrange County Sheriff Jeff Campos, was one of six sheriffs from the state to attend the Southwest Border Sheriff’s Annual Fall Conference, in Tucson.
Campos said he has already shared what he learned with his officers and he would be willing to share the same information with officers in neighboring department.
“The conference was beneficial, because contacts were made that can be used later on,” he said.
Since returning in late September he has also shared the experience with the LaGrange County Commissioners and several civic groups around the area.
He said the possibility is there to host a workshop on the drug cartel for local law enforcement agencies at some point. That workshop could possibly be instructed by a representative from the Southwest Border Sheriff’s Association.
Campos believes the crystal methamphetamine that is making its way to northern Indiana is coming across the Mexican border.
“Dealers can purchase it directly from the toll road,” he said.
Campos said he went into the conference with an open mind, not knowing what to expect.
“It was nice to go down there and see what everyone is talking about,” he said.
In his discussions with border patrol agents and law enforcement agents, they all believe the border wall is something that is needed.
“It is a matter of national security,” Campos said. “The drug cartel is for real.”
Statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show immigrants from 141 different countries crossed the border last year.
The area visited by conference attendees only had a wall constructed on a portion of the border allowing Campos to stand on both sides of the border. As of October 29, 76 miles of new wall has been constructed and an additional 156 miles are under construction, with 276 miles in the preconstruction process.
He said a large house owned by the cartel sits across the border in Mexico. Illegal immigrants looking to get in the country can gain the needed information from cartel members in the house for a price.
Campos said a lot of times children are used to transport drugs across the border because there are not enough facilities to hold the children and they are ultimately released.
“I really got an education,” he said. “The cartel is real, the need for the wall is real and corruption is real.”
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in fiscal year 2019, nearly 101,000 pounds of cocaine, 2,800 pounds of fentanyl, 83,000 pounds of methamphetamine, $75 million of illicit currency and almost 3,000 illicit weapons were seized.
Campos, who is secretary of the Indiana Sheriff’s Association Board of Directors attended the conference with other members of the association.