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Rising Metroplex Crime and Border Crisis Impacts Rural North Texas County
Even real-life Texas superhero’s have a breaking point
In rural north Texas, with a population of roughly 2,000, the citizens of Throckmorton County woke up Thursday morning with an unexpected resignation by the County Sheriff, Doc Wigington. I first met Sheriff Wigington in June 2021 during the Del Rio Border Security Summit Press Conference by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Governor Greg Abbott.
At the press conference, the Governor announced, "Individuals who enter Texas illegally will be subject to arrest and confinement for trespassing," along with the creation of the Governor's Task Force on Border and Homeland Security, effectively expanding Operation Lone Star (OLS). OLS was created in March 2021 in response to the unprecedented border crisis caused by the federal implementation of border policies (or lack thereof) under the Biden Administration.
During the conversation with Sheriff Wigington outside of the press conference, he stressed concerns about the extreme lack of resources and manpower placing enormous strain on the ability to protect the citizens he was voted in to serve. As with many rural counties across Texas, the lack of funding, resources, and manpower is nothing new. Most rural Texas sheriffs rely heavily on DPS and game warden to help compensate. However, with the mass influx of human smuggling, drug trafficking, and simultaneous deadly spikes in crime in Texas metroplex areas, many DPS and game warden agents have been sent to combat the ongoing border crisis or the city of Austin.
Over a year ago, I asked Sheriff Wigington to come on the Secure the Border podcast to discuss the impact the border crisis has on the roughly 920-square-mile county. During the interview, we also discussed a massive state-wide human smuggling and drug trafficking bust, an investigation Sheriff Wigington began in December 2021 in Throckmorton County.
The operation extended from the Oklahoma/Texas border to Del Rio and resulted in dozens of individuals arrested, large quantities of drugs seized, and multiple victims rescued from human and sex trafficking. Wigington stated, "Criminals don't respect county lines, and they don't respect jurisdictional lines" (See video clip). During the interview, the Sheriff also stated that narcotic arrests had gone up 1000% since the unprecedented border crisis began in 2021 and called the lack of enforcement by the Biden administration a clear "dereliction of duty." (Watch the full interview: CLICK HERE)
Highway 380 and 283 cross in the middle of the small city of Throckmorton, the county seat. Sheriff Wigington detailed that drug runners often use rural roads as the routes are much easier to avoid law enforcement, stating, "We have drugs going north and east, and money going south and west." Unsurprisingly, neighboring counties have had similar influxes in border-related crimes, such as Young County, which has also seen an influx of drug and human smuggling.
During a recent text conversation, the Sheriff stressed his hopefulness in the passing of Senate Bill (SB) 22, allowing for additional grant funding programs providing for "financial assistance to qualified sheriff's offices, constable's offices, and prosecutor's offices in rural counties." This is a much-needed bill as most rural counties struggle to afford living wages for deputies and other county officials, often losing officers to large metroplex police departments or DPS. Wigington had worked on and advocated for the initial legislation and the bill's expansion (SB 22) alongside then State Representative (now State Senator) Springer since 2018. SB 22 was signed into law by Governor Abbott in June but takes effect on September 1st.
Long hours, in dangerous situations, mainly with no backup, relief for Sheriff Wigington and Throckmorton County couldn't come fast enough.
"For 8 months, I have been without a full-time deputy and only a couple of part-time deputies. The Trooper and Game Warden are being deployed to the border and Austin, they are required to do this, and I have no ill feelings toward either of those two outstanding officers in any way, shape, or form. However, with this, I have, in many cases, had to respond to dangerous or potentially dangerous calls alone and cover 920sq miles by myself. My wife and I have been praying about this for months, and so we decided to follow the plan the Lord Jesus has for us. My family and I decided my safety is paramount."
- Sheriff Wigington:Facebook
During my brief interactions with him and his lovely wife since the Border Security Summit in 2021, I believe Sheriff Wigington is an honorable man. I, too, am a wife, and there was a time when my husband and I decided to leave an employer and do what was best for my husband's health and our family. Needless to say, the job my husband left was not nearly as life-threatening as the risks associated with being the Sheriff of a rural county during the most unprecedented border crisis and consequential crime surge with insufficient manpower and resources. But I mention this to illustrate the understandable resignation. Even honorable Texas Sheriffs have a threshold of tolerance.
I feel it is important to note that Throckmorton County was the first North Texas county to sign onto Governor Abbott’s Border Disaster Proclamation, renewed in July 2022. Shortly after, Throckmorton was one of the first of more than 4 dozen Texas counties to pass resolutions recognizing an active invasion of the sovereign state of Texas by criminal cartel organizations and stressing support for the unprecedented measures of OLS.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) focuses on producing grand standing lawsuits against the efforts of OLS, created solely out of necessity due to the evident disregard by the Biden Administration and federal agencies for the safety of Texans and all Americans. Meanwhile, Texas law enforcement, particularly in rural areas like Throckmorton County, are left with the impossible task of trying to serve the citizens they swore to protect, inflicting a David and Goliath scenario. Only in this case, David doesn't even have a rock or a sling.
Moreover, law enforcement agencies across Texas are suffering from a lack of retention, early retirement, and severe deficiencies in new recruits. Electing and retaining strong constitutional Sheriffs must be a top priority for everyone. Texas cannot afford to lose any more constitutional sheriffs or good law enforcement agents. Just another stark reminder that elections have genuine consequences that will eventually directly impact you and your family.
As we gear up for the 2024 election cycle, get out and vote and advocate for sufficient funding for your local police, constables, and Sheriff's departments. Lastly, as set by Sheriff Wigington, I will leave you with an excellent example of a constitutional sheriff (Listen to the clip below).
God Bless and protect Texas and all our honorable Sheriffs and law enforcement agents.
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