OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) – Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods and Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken are back in north central Florida after a trip to the Texas border and Mexico with MP Kat Cammack.
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The group of seven spent two days with border patrol officers, the Texas Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement officials.
After some time of reflection, they said that this is not a political problem, it is a humanitarian crisis.
Two of the main concerns for police and sheriff’s deputies here in north-central Florida are illegal immigration and the transportation of drugs into the country.
“Our investigations time and time again have brought us back to Mexico. We’re getting stamped fentanyl, there’s literally a stamp on it that says Mexico with a sombrero hat, ”Police Chief Mike Balken said.
Law enforcement responds to drug overdose calls in Marion County daily.
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Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken told us he saw both of these concerns firsthand.
“We sat down on Thursday night and watched the cartel form a group of people across the Rio Grande, they knew we were there, they didn’t care who was on the other side of the river… As the local administration of the law, it’s a slap in the face, ”Balken added.
And Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods is equally upset.
“Your heart breaks, you get mad, you get mad, you get angry and you get frustrated all at once, all of those emotions for what you see,” Woods said, “It’s something that we have. witnessed, the coyote looked at the National Guard who was the translator who was there for us, looked at him and said, there was a baby in the raft and this baby couldn’t be more than three or four months old , he said, I’ll throw the baby in the Rio Grande if you’re laughing at me, ”he added.
Sheriff Woods and Chief Balken both said their trips were made possible by funds from the department used for training and to attend various conferences.
Chief Balken said he would use this knowledge to educate the public and other local leaders.
Sheriff Woods said he plans to create intelligence and drug units, and they have both agreed to work more closely with federal partners.
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