Mission to work with consultant to learn about drug cartels

As part of their efforts to bring a railroad through the city that extends to Monterrey, officials with the city of Mission will begin learning more about the dangers on the south side of the border.

The city will be working with a consultant, who will provide training and presentations that will consist of information on the Mexican cartels, organized crime, transnational gangs — such as MS-13 and M-18 — and current events in Mexico, Aida Lerma, deputy city manager, told the council.

The consultant will also assist with issues on the proposal for the railroad project from Mexico into the Mission area.

The city council, by a 3-2 vote, authorized acting City Manager Randy Perez to enter into an agreement with Jose Garza, a former Homeland Security Director for the Kansas City Southern Railway Company and a former intelligence analyst for the FBI, according to information he listed on his LinkedIn profile.

When explaining the agreement to the city council during a Nov. 26 meeting, Mayor Armando O’Caña said that Garza would serve as a connection to the Kansas City Railway Company, which has routes that run through the Rio Grande Valley and extend into Mexico.

“This individual will serve as an expert/liaison person to that company that we’re going to need to make those connections (with) , as far as that is concerned,” O’Caña told the council. “He also will provide training on the construction part for us.”

O’Caña said Garza would charge the city $150 per hour for training and presentations on the cartels. The cost for research and assistance on border and railroad issues would be $25 per hour, whether that information would be delivered by telephone or during meetings.

However, when Council member Gus Martinez asked how much the city was expected to spend, O’Caña replied he didn’t foresee utilizing Garza’s services for many hours.

“We’re only going to use him as needed,” he said.

About a month ago, the city created a railroad committee to focus on the project, a component of their railroad bridge that has been in the works for more than 30 years.

In 1978, the city of Mission was granted a presidential permit for an international rail and vehicular bridge.

However, construction of the Madero Bridge Project has yet to begin. With the permit set to expire in 2021, O’Caña said the city has to produce proof that it has made progress in getting the project off the ground.

City officials had previously met with the Kansas City Rail Systems, according to a letter to the U.S. State Department signed by former Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas in 2009.

A meeting of the railroad committee is expected to be held Jan. 3.