Texas DPS AS 350B2 on display at the ALEA Conference 2009 in Savana Ga.An hour long shootout Wednesday afternoon between the Mexican Army and narcotic traffickers in Nuevo Laredo prompted the Texas DPS to send state troopers and a police helicopter to the border in case suspects tried to flee back into the U.S.
At least one news source, "My SA News" (San Antonio News)reported that the Texas DPS helicopter in fact responded across the border into Mexico to assist on the call. This report not only grabbed my attention but also raised many questions, if in fact the report was accurate. What frequencies would the Texas DPS helicopter crew use to talk to the Mexican Army or Police? What if the Tactical Flight Officer on the Texas DPS helicopter wasn't bi-lingual? Would the Texas Department of Public Safety risk the safety of their crew and helicopter by sending them into the midst of a fire fight between the Mexican Army and Narco Traffickers in Mexico? As a member of an air unit that also patrols along the U.S./Mexican Border, I could not imagine responding into Mexico for a shootout. But, maybe they do things differently in Texas.
My inquiries Friday morning to the Captain on duty at the Texas DPS Communications Center evoked a slight chuckle, and an assurance that their helicopter did not respond into Mexico as had been reported. He confirmed that they did respond to the border in Laredo, in case any suspects attempted to flee into the U.S.
According to authorities, the shootout in front of a day care center in the Nuevo Laredo community of Casa Geo, resulted in the deaths of several narco traffickers. Two of the vehicles in which the suspects died, a Pontiac Grand Am and another white sedan, both bore Texas license plates.
In addition to the Helicopter, Texas DPS sent approximately 20 troopers to monitor the border and the two border crossings, International Bridges I & II.
Texas DPS operates a total of 22 aircraft which includes; 13- American Eurocopter AS 350B2's, 1- twin engine EC-145 helicopter, 7- Cessna fixed wing aircraft, and 1- Twin Engine Turbo Commander fixed wing aircraft.
Texas DPS also lays claim to operating the most technologically advanced single engine law enforcement helicopter in the world, an AS 350B2.