The Commerce Journal

August 29, 2013

Counseling professor returns from revealing trip to border

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — The War on Drugs has claimed more than 60,000 lives in less than 10 years.

On the front line of the unconventional battles are the United States Border Patrol agents, who face death threats and dangerous situations on a day-to-day basis.

Dr. Lavelle Hendricks, assistant professor of Psychology, Counseling and Special Education at Texas A&M University-Commerce, returned from the U.S./Mexico border recently and said he found out some startling statistics while there.

One of the discoveries he found was that since the border is so large, “For every one they catch, another 50 or 60 smugglers will make it through. These folks who want to bring drugs in will find a way.”

Hendricks said with new technology, the agents hope to cut that number down significantly.

“They do a very elaborate search,” he said, adding that he could not go into detail about the new technology they use. “I got a chance to observe some of the latest technology used to fight the War on Drugs.”

 Hendricks said the agents who stand guard defending our border are unsung heroes of this society.

“The average American is not aware of the men and women who put their lives on the line on a daily basis,” he said. “They’re heroes because they’re doing it day in and day out.”

One story an agent told Hendricks summed up why he thinks they are heroes.

The agent was contacted by a cartel who wanted to bribe him into allowing drugs to be smuggled through his area. The agent told him no and then was told by the cartel he was now a ‘marked man’ and he and his family would have a bounty put on them.

Hendricks said the men and women who protect our border are some of the most patriotic people who live and die to protect their country.

“They have great love and great honor for their country,” he said.

According to Hendricks, he will be able to pass on a great deal of first-hand knowledge to the students of Texas A&M University-Commerce this semester.

“The students are greatly benefitting from the knowledge I gained from the experience,” he said. “The students will be more prepared to face different situations.”

Hendricks said people of Commerce can do their part in the war by not purchasing or using any form of illegal drugs.

Hendricks said for those who think their drug use does not affect others, have already had their drug use impair their judgement.

“It shows you up front how drugs have already affected their cognitive functions,” he said, adding that since they purchase the drugs, it is adding fuel to the fire of the drug war.

This was the fourth trip Hendricks has made to the border. Hendricks said the cartels have taken over entire areas of Mexico through bribes and force.

“They are very serious about getting drugs into the border,” he said.

The most startling revelation Hendricks said was corruption on the Mexican side of the border.

“To see how corrupt the police and government are down there,” he said. “I’ll admit, I was afraid. It has gotten worse over there.”