An alleged plot by a Mexican drug cartel to blow up a dam along the Texas border — and unleash billions of gallons of water into a region with millions of civilians — sent American police, federal agents and disaster officials secretly scrambling last month to thwart such an attack, authorities confirmed Wednesday.
Whether or not the cartel, which is known to have stolen bulk quantities of gunpowder and dynamite, could have taken down the 5-mile-long Falcon Dam may never be known since the attack never came to pass.
It may have been derailed by a stepped-up presence by the Mexican military, which was acting in part on intelligence from the U.S. government, sources said.
The warning, which swung officials into action, was based on what the federal government contends were “serious and reliable sources” and prompted the Department of Homeland Security to sound the alarm to first responders along the South Texas-Mexico border.
Mexico's Zeta cartel was planning to destroy the dam not to terrorize civilians, but to get back at its rival and former ally, the Gulf cartel, which controls smuggling routes from the reservoir to the Gulf of Mexico, said Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, head of the Southwest Border Sheriff's Coalition, as did others familiar with the alleged plot.
But in the process, massive amounts of agricultural land would stand to be flooded as well as significant parts of a region where about 4 million people live along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Perry: Threat proves need for border aid
At a local news conference announcing a veterans’ workforce initiative, Gov. Rick Perry today said the reported plot by a Mexican drug cartel to blow up Falcon Dam will hopefully send a message to Washington that resources are needed to secure both sides of the border.
“We don’t know, but we will treat it as a serious threat, obviously,” Perry told reporters at St. Philip’s College.
The alleged plot by the Zetas to blow up the five-mile-long dam along the border to get back at the rival Gulf cartel, was apparently thwarted by the stepped-up presence by the Mexican military and U.S. Border Patrol, Texas Department of Safety and game wardens.