According to documents obtained by news agencies, the Justice Department is investigating allegations of civil rights abuses related to Operation Lone Stara Texas border initiative.
As of Wednesday, the Justice Department had not publicly confirmed whether it was investigating, according to the Texas Tribune.
Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for the department, said she could not “comment on the existence or lack of a potential investigation or case into a matter that is not otherwise part of the public record of the court,” according to the Texas Tribune, which obtained the filing with ProPublica.
“If you are not already aware, the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ is investigating Operation Lone Star,” said a May 23 email from the assistant general counsel for the Texas Department of Public Safety. , Kaylyn Betts, obtained by the media. “They request several documents from the agency. It is imperative that we respond timely and completely.
According to a press release by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Operation Lone Star was launched last March “to combat people and drug trafficking in Texas,” by Mexican cartels and included contributions from the DPS and the Texas National Guard . State legislators have passed legislation allocate billions of dollars to fund the program.
Just this week, Abbott touted the program on Twitter.
ProPublica and the Texas Tribune have reported on alleged issues with the program since its launch, including the treatment of National Guard members and alleged civil rights violations.
“An investigation by the Tribune, ProPublica and The Marshall Project found that in touting the operation’s accomplishments, state officials included non-border arrests and drug seizures across the country. State,” the Tribune said. Additionally, media research found that trespassing cases accounted for the largest share of the agency’s arrests.
“The DPS stopped counting some charges, including cockfighting, sexual assault and harassment, after publications began asking about their ties to border security,” the Tribune reported.
Other Operation Lone Star investigations include reports of soldier suicides linked to the program from the Army Times and National Guard deployment issues such as delayed payments, a shortage of essential equipment, and poor living conditions.
Neither the DPS nor the Texas Attorney General’s office responded to requests for comment from the Tribune. However, Amanda Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said in an email that her agency provided the DOJ with the requested information.
“The agency has and continues to comply with all state and federal laws as the State of Texas responds to ongoing crises at the border,” she said.