Gov. Landry visits border to provide update on Operation Lone Star

BATON ROUGE– Gov. Jeff Landry visited the Texas/Mexico border on Thursday to meet with Louisiana National Guard soldiers and get an overview of Operation Lone Star.

Brigadier General Thomas Friloux joined him along with nine legislators.

The governor approved the mobilization of Louisiana National Guard soldiers in March. In April, Louisiana sent 50 soldiers to help the Texas National Guard patrolling the border to stop illegal crossings.

Landry said in a teleconference Thursday that the mission has been successful. He said after talking with soldiers, most of them were upbeat.

“The facilities that they are housed at, the equipment they’re using, and the way that they are being fed are all first-class,” Landry said in the teleconference. “Texas is doing an outstanding job, and it really is a shame because I don’t think that Mexico is in control of that border. I think that the cartels seem to have more control over the border in Mexico than the Mexican officials.”

Landry attributed the opioid crisis and issues with human trafficking to the cartel’s control over the border.

Rep. Jay Galle, R-Mandeville, said a captain briefed them on a part of the cartel’s operation at the border.

“No one comes across without the cartel’s permission,” he said. “Depending on where you’re from will dictate how much money they charge. The border on the southern Mexican side is governed and ran by the cartels. These are not free people coming across. What we have right now is a humanitarian issue, as well as an invasion of our country.”

Sen. Stewart Cathey, R-Monroe, was initially skeptical of sending troops to the border, but he changed his mind after visiting.

“I will be the first to say I was wrong,” he said. “After being here today and seeing the numbers and the job they’ve done,  I am willing to admit I was wrong. Our soldiers absolutely play a key role in supporting stability operations there on the Texas/Mexico border.”

Sen. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, said there were about 2,000 crossings before Louisiana soldiers were sent to the border, and now the number is down to 200.

“What I found most alarming was the fact that we don’t have just Mexicans coming across. We have foreign nationals coming as well,” said Galle. “The cartels do have operational control on the other side of the river. They control who comes over, so the fact that we are here and the Louisiana National Guard is here supporting the other states and Texas is something I think was necessary.”

Landry said he would wait to hear from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott before deciding what is next for the soldiers.

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