(TRUNEWS) Texas Game Warden’s have begun training to counter the potential threat that terrorists could use the Port of Houston to smuggle radioactive material into the United States.
In an interview with local news, Tom Harvey, the Deputy Director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Departments Communications Division, said Friday that “game wardens encounter all kinds of things on their patrols, including a lot of illegal fishing, and this [the threat of terrorists smuggling radioactive material] is a new threat we’re gearing up to be able to address.”
Harvey said that the Port of Houston has for years had radiation detectors to scan cargo, but now “we’ve acquired about a hundred devices that allow game wardens to detect radiological or nuclear emissions. These are little devices that can be worn on someone’s belt.”
The device Harvey referenced is about the size of a cellphone and has the ability to detect radiation signatures, whether it be from energy or medical cargo, or connected to a terrorist plot.
When questioned by TRUNEWS if there was an active radiological terrorist threat in his region, Harvey said that to his knowledge there was not, but Texas Wardens are currently training for the possibility of a terrorist organization attempting to smuggle radioactive material through the Port of Houston, noting that they had just completed a mock exercise in January resembling that scenario.
Like many government agencies, the Texas Game Warden’s have been heavily militarized since the beginning of the War on Terrorism, evident by the formation of their own special operations division designed specifically to handle escalated levels of confrontation above their original scope of duty.
The idea of a terrorist attack on America’s southern border is far from outlandish, with the first instance of such an event occurring almost 100 years ago by a Mexican revolutionary named Francisco “Pancho” Villa. On March 9, 1916, Villa and more than 400 heavily-armed mounted bandits crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and successfully raided a town of 350 inhabitants, plus a garrison of 553 troops from the 13th U.S. Cavalry, in Columbus, New Mexico.
In regard to such an attack turning radiological, on March 1st 2016 Mexican officials from the National Coordination of Civil Protection said a 2006 red Chevrolet Silverado pickup transporting radioactive iridium-192 was stolen in San Juan del Rio at about 6 a.m. local time.
In an official statement they said the iridium-192 ”can be dangerous to people if not handled in safe conditions or if handled without the right protection.”
David Albright, a physicist and president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, mirrored that warning, telling Reuters that iridium-192 could cause harm simply by being left exposed in a public place for several days.
In November 2015 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that a laptop-size case with about 0.35 ounces (10 grams) of iridium-192 belonging to Turkish company SGS was stolen from Weatherford, a U.S. oilfield services company which was operating near the southern city of Basra.
The Category 2 radioactive substance was later found by authorities in the southern town of Zubair on Feb. 21st 2016, roughly 9 miles southwest of Basra, leaving Iraq’s environment ministry spokesman Ameer Ali left wondering what parties were responsible, and how the containers were transported that distance without damaging the material seals.
In addition to the Iridium-192 thefts, a teletherapy device containing radioactive Cobalt 60 was taken from a disposal site near Mexico City, when a truck transporting the material was stolen on December 2, 2013. The 3,000 curies strength radioactive material was quickly recovered, but the source capsule had been removed from its shielding. Luckily the capsule, a small welded stainless steel container that holds a wire containing cobalt, was not itself opened, meaning no open contamination occurred.
Mexico’s National Commission for Nuclear Safety and Safeguards said at the time that there was “nothing to indicate the theft of the cobalt was intentional or in any way intended for an act of terrorism.” This seemed dubiously vague based on the fact that the IAEA classified the Cobalt 60 as a Category 1 source of radiation, and no explanation was ever furnished as to who stole the truck and why the shielding surrounding the capsule was tampered with.
TERRORISTS IN MEXICO
In addition to the thefts, and aside from the terroristic drug cartels, ISIS themselves have been documented operating near the U.S. Mexico border.
Judicial Watch reported in August 2015 that sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Federal Police Inspector have documented that ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas.
The exact location where the terrorist group had established its base was around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra”, situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Judicial Watch’s sources also said another ISIS cell located to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States.
During the course of a joint operation in 2015, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, Muslim prayer rugs, and “plans” of U.S. Army base Fort Bliss.
WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE
TRUNEWS recently reported that the DHS slashed the border patrol’s budget for fiscal year 2017, ordering a draw down of 300 agents.
Full article: Border Battle: TX agents now looking for terrorists smuggling radioactive material (TruNews)