Texas Joint Counterdrug Task force begins largest Operation Crackdown in Dallas

Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

 

Photo By 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy | A Texas National Guard engineer watches as another Guardsman operates an excavator to demolish a house in that was known to be used by drug users and dealers, Aug. 3, 2016, in Dallas, Texas, as part of the Texas Joint Counterdrug Taskforce's Operation Crackdown. The operation, unique to the Texas National Guard's Counterdrug program, partners the taskforce with a Texas city to demolish structures connected with the use or distribution of drugs. This Crackdown mission is the taskforce's fifth time in Dallas and its longest Crackdown mission since the operation's inception in 1993. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)
Photo By 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy | A Texas National Guard engineer watches as another Guardsman operates an excavator to demolish a house in that was known to be used by drug users and dealers, Aug. 3, 2016, in Dallas, Texas, as part of the Texas Joint Counterdrug Task force's Operation Crackdown. The operation, unique to the Texas National Guard's Counterdrug program, partners the task force with a Texas city to demolish structures connected with the use or distribution of drugs. This Crackdown mission is the task force's fifth time in Dallas and its longest Crackdown mission since the operation's inception in 1993. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy) 

DALLAS – The Texas Joint Counterdrug Task force is ending its summer with its largest Operation Crackdown to date, set to raze more than 60 structures at more than 50 locations.

The Dallas Crackdown mission, which is the task force’s sixth mission in the city, began July 25 and will continue through the end of August.

Operation Crackdown is a program unique to the Texas National Guard that provides National Guard engineers to a community to demolish structures linked to the use and/or distribution of drugs. 

The partnership between the taskforce and the city of Dallas has resulted in about 120 structures demolished over the past five years.

The difference between the city of Dallas’ mission and a typical mission is that Crackdown personnel will spend nearly six weeks demolishing structures, whereas the typical Crackdown mission is two weeks and includes about 30 structures.

“We’ve been given an opportunity to expand the program and the city of Dallas has taken advantage of that to aggressively pursue the demolition of these drug houses,” said Army Col. Suzanne Adkinson, Texas Joint Counterdrug Task force Commander. 

To start the process on this behemoth operation, city of Dallas officials made a request. After a request is made, agreements between the Texas National Guard and the requesting city are made using Military and City Lawyers. For a structure to be selected, it must have a connection with the drug trade. Once the site has been approved, the city must receive approval from the homeowner to demolish the structure on his or her property. Then the structure is inspected for hazardous materials. Law enforcement officials then secure the site before the Guard’s arrival.

“We are excited that Operation Crackdown is demolishing structures in our city that have been havens for drugs and other criminal activity,” said Community Prosecutor Jill Haning, in a statement. “The demolitions are a positive development and an essential part of the fight against blight in our neighborhoods.”

The Community Prosecution section of the Dallas City Attorney’s Office has been tasked with coordinating the operation, with more than one dozen city departments involved in this mission. 

 “Our goal is more structures and removing more safe havens that foster drug activity,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Bruce Robison, Crackdown officer in charge.

The program is made possible through asset forfeiture funds that represent the proceeds of, or were used to facilitate drug-related crimes.

“It’s the opportunity to take drug money off the street and reuse it to demolish drug houses, making it a little safer for the people in the community,” Adkinson said.

On average, each two-week mission costs the task force about $30,000, which includes personnel and equipment costs.

The operation not only provides a service to the community in its war against drugs, but also enhances military readiness for the Texas Guardsmen, who utilize the engineering skill set in their real-world mission, and allows the Texas National Guard to partner with communities within the state.

"We're excited to be able to give back to the community in this way," Adkinson said. "It ties in to our state and our TAG's mission to partner with our community, as well as staying ready and relevant to being the force of choice, while providing the right forces at the right time to execute the mission."