FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 03/11/2015
REP. LONGORIA FILES LEGISLATION CODIFYING THE BORDER PROSECUTION UNIT
THE BPU IS AN INDEPENDENT UNIT THAT COOPERATES WITH AND SUPPORTS BORDER PROSECUTING ATTORNEYS IN PROSECUTING BORDER CRIMES
AUSTIN, TX—Today, State Representative Oscar Longoria (House District 35) filed House Bill 12. This bill codifies the original intent of the Border Prosecution Unit (BPU), which has been modeled after the Special Prosecution Unit in Walker County in Huntsville, Texas. It will put everything relating to the BPU into law.
The border prosecution unit is an independent unit that cooperates with and supports border prosecuting attorneys in prosecuting border crimes. The unit is comprised of the following border prosecuting attorneys: the 34th, 38th, 49th, 63rd, 79th, 81st, 83rd, 112th, 143rd, 156th, 229th, 293rd, 452nd judicial districts, all other offices of district attorneys, criminal district attorneys or county attorneys with felony responsibility, created by the legislature whose jurisdiction lies with the border region.
The unit will elect a governing board within their own which shall divide the unit into three regions (regional counsels), and shall set the boundaries of such regions from time to time as may be appropriate. The unit shall facilitate the coordination and collaboration with the border prosecuting attorneys, the unit’s regional counsel, and other law enforcement agencies, particularly the Texas Department of Public Safety, to more efficiently use the resources available to protect the border region.
The regional counsel shall assist other regional councils and border prosecuting attorneys in prosecuting cases, screening cases, presenting cases to a grand jury and participating in the preparation and trial of cases. The counsel shall provide technical and legal assistance to investigative personnel.
House Bill 12 will facilitate the BPU in prosecuting drug/border crimes (murder, kidnapping, extortion), criminal enterprises associated with cartels and drug trade, financial crimes and human trafficking. The bill will enhance relations between each district attorney, local DPS and law enforcement organizations on the ground. They will work together in the handling of cases that reach across county/jurisdictional boundaries. It will also implement threat-based operational goals and practices targeting gangs and other criminal organizations operating in Texas, including those in state prison facilities.
Representative Oscar Longoria issued the following statement:
“House Bill 12 is important because it places the Border Prosecution Unit into statute. This better allows local officials to prosecute border related crime, including: drug smuggling, murder, kidnapping, extortion, money laundering and human trafficking.
The Border Prosecution Unit is vital in helping prosecutors screen cases, secure indictments and bring accused criminals to trial. This bill will give our prosecutors the resources and support they need to ensure that those who enslave, exploit and endanger others are put behind bars where they belong.
When looking at securing the border, the approach the legislature is taking this session involves all facets of border security--- from enhancing law enforcement resources, increasing multiagency operations, strengthening human trafficking violations, and providing the proper resources needed by border prosecutors that deal with the legal side of these issues. Identifying and providing resources to all the areas identified will better allow us to create a stronger and safer border for all Texans."
Representative Oscar Longoria proudly represents House District 35, which encompasses both Hidalgo and Cameron Counties and includes the cities/towns of: La Joya, Sullivan City, Peñitas, Alton, Edinburg, Monte Alto, Edcouch, La Villa, Mercedes, Weslaco, Santa Rosa, Primera, Palm Valley, Combes, Harlingen, and La Feria.