Structures Tied to Drug and Other Criminal Activity to be Demolished

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 9:10am

From drug activity to squatters and even vandalism, dozens of homes in Harlingen are a danger to the community, not to mention eye sores.

As of now, a special operation is underway to rid the community of these hazardous homes.

"Basically, we use down drug money to knock down drug houses," says Staff Sgt. Michael Leslie of the Texas National Guard.

It's called Operation Crackdown; it's a joint effort between the Texas National Guard and the City of Harlingen. A property off the 12-hundred block of Greenway is the first of many to be torn down over the next few weeks.

"We're targeting unsafe structures with a direct link to drug activity and criminal activity in our community," says Harlingen City Manager, Carlos Yerena

The city takes note of complaints from residents and those which check out to be problem houses are torn down after a careful selection process.

News Center 23 talked to the property owner off camera, who watched from his other neighboring property. He says he's fine with the demolition, the economy has made it hard for him to keep the house up and it's been hit several times by vandals with spray paint and that the windows have been busted out.

No telling what else may have gone on in there, but very often, according to officials, drug activity...

"There is definitely a large drug problem coming from Mexico, just being right here on the border. We share 2/3 of the border with Mexico and the United States so we definitely have a problem with drugs coming through here," says Staff Sgt. Leslie.

The city manager says little vacant homes like the like one on Greenway are prime set ups for drug activity and the city wants nothing to do with it, so eliminating the problem is key.

The Texas National Guard provides the money, cash acquired from drug seizures across the Lone Star state fund the operation. They take care of renting the large equipment and taking care of the demolition and clean up efforts; the City of Harlingen hauls off the debris to the landfill.

Yerena describes the operation as really a win-win for the community.

"This particular program is great because it's not costing tax payers a dime, so we're able to do a lot more with the budget that we have in hand. We can do more structures and it's helping to beautify the community and making it a lot safer," says Yerena.

Over the next two weeks, the Texas National Guard will be in Harlingen tearing down 34 structures, officials tell us it takes about three hours to tear down each home.

Operation Crackdown has been in effect since 1993, since then the Texas National Guard has torn down roughly 13-hundred structures across Texas, tied to drug and other criminal activity.


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