World

Group calls for changes to Operation Lone Star amid deaths, but DPS claims report has discrepancies

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A new report released by the organization Human Rights Watch claims Gov. Greg Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star” is becoming deadly, affecting innocent Americans including children.

Operation Lone Star (OLS) was enacted two years ago. The report states vehicle pursuits have skyrocketed. It takes a close look at vehicle chases between DPS troopers and other law enforcement that go after people suspected of smuggling or being smuggled into the U.S.

About 60 counties operate under this program. The report highlights that these types of chases have led to at least 74 people killed and another 189 injured as the result of 49 pursuits by Texas troopers, local law enforcement, or both in OLS counties.

During ABC13’s 10 a.m. live stream on our 24/7 channel, we spoke to Armando Garcia, ABC News Immigration reporter and producer. He talked about what the organization Human Rights Watch says this study is calling for.

“They want DPS to revise their policy in engaging in some of these tactics and some of these deadly pursuits. They’re also calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the program and the entire Operation Lone Star program, which they call ‘allege civil rights violations.’ In the past, the director of DPS says he trusts his troopers to make these very difficult split-second decisions and to find out ways to mitigate risks when they are pursuing some of these suspects,” Garcia said.

ABC13 also spoke to Lt. Christopher Olivarez with DPS, who said not only are there discrepancies in the report, but DPS troopers have been armed with the tools to safely end a pursuit. Some do back off, but other agencies take over.

“We give troopers an array of tools and strategies and also technologies to use to try to bring these to a stop. For one, stop sticks, which are a device used to deflate the tires of a fleeing vehicle. The Pit maneuver,” Olivarez said. “Our DPS vehicles are now outfitted with an enhanced bumper for the pit maneuver. Also, most recently, we have technology now where some of our DPS patrol cars have a GPS device that is mounted in the front of the patrol car and will then deploy to the back of a suspect vehicle, where now the trooper can back off safely and monitor that vehicles movement’s using GPS coordinates.”

Abbott’s office said the following: “President Biden’s reckless open border policies invite Mexican cartels to profit off the chaos through dangerous human trafficking and smuggling operations along the border that endanger innocent lives. Mexican cartels and human traffickers have a clear disregard for human life as they smuggle people in high-speed pursuits and in dangerous conditions, like the 53 migrants who died in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio last year. Governor Abbott has deployed thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers to respond to this Biden-made border crisis and save lives. Since launching Operation Lone Star, they have apprehended over 485,000 illegal immigrants, seized over 449 million lethal doses of fentanyl, and arrested over 36,800 criminals-all of which would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and our country thanks to President Biden.”

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