ICE growing its SWAT units to go after drug cartels and smugglers in Texas
When Mexican drug cartel members, plaza bosses and high-profile smugglers get arrested in South Texas, the agents kicking down the door to take them into custody belong to the special response team from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.They have to be expert marksmen who hit their target 90 percent of the time to qualify. This tells you what a dangerous place the border has become for law enforcement dealing with the spillover of Mexico's criminal insurgency.
"They're an elite team of law enforcement officers who are specially trained to do high-risk situations, such as search warrants (and) arrests warrants," said Enrique Lucero, the field office director for San Antonio's ICE office.
The missions they carry out are so dangerous, ICE asked us to conceal the agents' faces in the video that accompanies this story for their protection. The special response team is looking to add new member to covers its huge region that stretches from Del Rio all the way east to Brownsville, and from there north to Waco. The 17 current members are ready to be deployed anywhere in that vast area at a moment's notice.
KENS 5 was granted exclusive access to the tryout to earn a spot on the team. The candidates are already federal agents.
The training started for the six recruits before the sun came up. Their first challenge was dragging a 175-pound dummy 25 yards in less than 25 seconds. It was meant to test their ability to rescue a fallen agent.
The second challenge ended the recruitment process for one of the agents. He failed to make it over a six-foot wall. The agents must also run 1.5 miles in less than 12 minutes and complete 20 push-ups in full tactical gear.
'Generally, they all come here in great physical condition, but with the stress of knowing what it takes to get to the next step, that's where we see some of the fail rate," Lucero said. "To get on this team and go through the certification, I would say it's approximately a 20 percent pass rate."