Law enforcement officials from Ohio and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrived in Texas to visit the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). (Photo submitted)
Law enforcement officials from Ohio and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrived in Texas to visit the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT — On Dec. 12, 2017, law enforcement officials from Ohio and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrived in Texas to visit the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC).

Housed on the grounds of Fort Bliss, EPIC coordinates the collection, analysis and dissemination of drug-related intelligence with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement organizations. The DEA intelligence program helps law enforcement initiate investigations of drug organizations, strengthens ongoing ones and develops information that leads to seizures and arrests.

During the trip, Ohio’s delegation had the opportunity to take an aerial tour of the international boundary with Mexico and discuss operations with members of the Border Patrol. From there, the delegation traveled to one of the largest international ports of entry, the Bridge of the Americas. While there, they observed agents from Customs and Border Protection screen commercial vehicles, cargo and passengers cars using x-ray technology. The delegation also observed the process of screening pedestrians.

At EPIC, Ohio officials received an overview about the heroin and opiate drug trade as well as narcotics trafficking and trends. The delegation learned nearly 90 percent of all heroin, fentanyl and opiate drugs are trafficked across the southwestern border. Once the drugs arrive in our county, cartels break down the drugs into smaller amounts to be shipped across the county for sale. EPIC shares information and intelligence gathered at the border and nationwide to help law enforcement officials identify and arrest drug couriers.

EPIC also provides many services to law enforcement agencies including analytical support, investigatory support and training. These shared services are tailored to an agencies needs and frees up local resources to be used in other capacities.

Ohio’s delegation consisted of Sheriff Michael L. Simpson of Preble County, Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach of Van Wert County, Sheriff Matthew Treglia of Allen County, Sheriff Keith A. Everhart of Hardin County, DEA Resident Agent in Charge Keith Martin and DEA Assistant Agent in Charge James Goodwin. Representing the Ohio State Highway Patrol were Colonel Paul A. Pride, Patrol Superintendent, Lieutenant Colonel Michael D. Black, Major B. Gene Smith and Captain Michael D. Kemmer.