Focus on Texas Ag Border Report Erroneous Statement: Mexico’s Drug Violence is Spilling Over Into The United States

In the midst of running for Lieutenant Governor, Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples released a report claiming that the border between Mexico and Texas was an out of control war zone. The report's claims have already been confronted with skepticism. This week we will scrutinize highlight and debunk the most erroneous statements in the report.


From the Texas Ag Report: The spillover effect of increased violence in Mexico increases the violence on the U.S. side.

Despite incessant claims to the contrary there is little to no evidence of spillover violence from Mexico. NDN has refuted such allegations many times. While the report never cites claims about spillover, it references a study by the Congressional Research Service that addresses spillover violence. Ironically, the COLGEN report blatantly ignored the main conclusion of the report it cites:

“Currently, no comprehensive, publicly available data exist that can definitively answer the question of whether there has been a significant spillover of drug trafficking-related violence into the United States. {…] anecdotal reports have been mixed”

The writers themselves are hard pressed to substantiate these claims beyond anecdotal claims, Jeremy Schwartz, of the Austin American-Statesmen noted:

“During a news conference after the report was released, McCaffrey raised eyebrows when he spoke of “hundreds of people murdered on our side of the frontier,” a statistic that far exceeded the 22 killings between January 2010 and May 2011 identified by the Department of Public Safety as being related to drug cartels. When asked about the number, McCaffrey pointed to statements from a Brooks County rancher, who told reporters that hundreds of bodies had been found in the county in recent years.”

In fact  Brooks County, Tx Sheriff’s Department told the Austin Statesmen: “Most of the bodies were those of illegal immigrants crossing the brush trying to avoid the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias and not victims of direct assaults...”

Overall violence along the Southwest Border has been in decline for some time:

The FBI report on Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime shows that nationally, including border states, all four categories of violent crime declined overall compared to 2008: robbery, 8.1 percent; murder, 7.2 percent; aggravated assault, 4.2 percent; and forcible rape, 3.1 percent. Violent crime declined 4.0 percent in metropolitan counties. The same report shows that in Texas, violent crime rates declined,by 3.5 percent to 123,668 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2009.  From 2009 to 2010 in the 4 Texas border states, El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville and McAllen all saw drops in violent crime. By contrast Dayton, Ohio part of Speaker of the House John Boehner’s is far more violent.

When compared to their respective state averages murder rates for cities within 50 miles of the border have been lower almost every year nearly every year from 1998 to 2009. For example, during that period, California’s lowest murder rate (5.3 people per 100, 000 residents in 2009) was still higher than the highest murder rate in border cities (4.6 people per 100, 000 in 2003).

Robbery rates for cities within 50 miles of the border were lower each year compared with the state average. In Texas, from 1998 t0 2009, the robbery rate ranged from 145 to 173 per 100,000 people in the state, while the robbery rate throughout Texas’ border region never rose above 100 per 100,000.

With thanks to Dante Perez for his help with research for this report.