Border Patrol agents arrest a subject who was patrolling around the a building at the ETG Ranch where a training scenario was conducted Thursday, April 25th, in cooperation with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.  --  KATHY MANKIN | THE ELDORADO SUCCESS
Border Patrol agents arrest a subject who was patrolling around the a building at the ETG Ranch where a training scenario was conducted Thursday, April 25th, in cooperation with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team. -- KATHY MANKIN | THE ELDORADO SUCCESS

BY RANDY MANKIN
The ELDORADO SUCCESS

Fifteen members of the U.S. Border Patrol Special Operations Detachment from Del Rio, as well as three members of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s SWAT Team, spent two days training last week at the ETG Ranch (formerly the YFZ Ranch) some four miles north northwest from Eldorado on Schleicher County Road 300.

My wife Kathy and I were invited to observe the exercise and was escorted to a vantage point a safe distance away from the action.
Border Patrol agent Russell Church, a native of Presidio, Texas and an 18-year veteran of the Border Patrol, explained that the purpose of the training was to sharpen skills and rehearse various scenarios ranging from tracking to making forced entry into buildings.

One such scenario played out at about 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 25th, when agents and officers, clad in camouflage uniforms, helmets and bullet-resistant vests, swarmed a three-story log cabin-style home on the northeast side of the ranch.

According to the script for the scenario, the agents were to execute and arrest warrant at a “stash house” where an individual known for narcotics and human trafficking was staying. Complicating the matter was the fact that the man was a convicted felon who was known to carry and utilize firearms.

With other officers playing the part of “bad guys” both inside and outside the residence, the team approached by stealth and took down the guards who were patrolling around the structure. Then other team members arrived almost immediately in a Lenco Bearcat armored vehicle.

The team set explosive charges on a stand-alone door set up in front of the cabin’s front door. The equipment allowed the team to detonate “breaching charges” without damaging the cabin.

As the charge went off with loud bang, the agents who had taken shelter from the blast behind their armored truck, swarmed through the door. A series of nine detonations followed outside the cabin as loud shouting and gunfire could be heard coming from within.

Shortly after the team entered the building, one of the “bad guys” ran from the structure toward a tree line about 75 yards away.

“They won’t go after him now,” Agent Church explained to me. “They will focus on their mission inside the house.”

There was little need to worry that the man would escape as he was being monitored by an airborne drone that hovered over the scene throughout the operation.

A few minutes later, team members emerged from the cabin and set into the brush with a tracking dog.

As the team pursued the runner, Agent Church explained that the Border Patrol employs two types of canine, scent dogs for tracking and trailing, as well as bite dogs that are used to take down uncooperative or threatening subjects.

Fortunately for the bad guy in last Thursday’s scenario, the canine pursuer was not a bite dog as he was quickly taken into custody and brought out of the brush by the team who paraded him back to the cabin.

With the scenario over, the team gathered around with training officers and observer/safety officers to review and critique every aspect of the scenario.

“Each one will be asked what they saw and how they reacted,” Church explained. “It’s how we learn and get better.”

Church went on to say that individual training exercises were carried out at the ranch during the day. With the various teams coming together for two or three scenario’s each day.

When asked about the current state of the U.S./Mexico border, Church said that the flood of immigrants coming in from Central America is overwhelming.

When asked about the back-and-forth debate in Washington, DC about whether the situation on the border could be called a crisis, Church said he was strictly non-partisan but was adamant that things on the southern border have reached crisis level.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis and national security crisis,” Church said.

He explained that in addition to the thousands of migrants coming in from Mexico and Central America, there are many immigrants from “just about every country out there.”

He explained that the Border Patrol continues to apprehend immigrants from Africa, Asia, India and the Middle East.

As busy as things are in the Del Rio Sector, Church notes that things are much worse in the farther down river in the Rio Grande Valley.

The U.S. Border Patrol is just one of the clients who are now able to take advantage of training opportunities at the former polygamous compound where a massive white limestone temple towers over an abandoned community.

“This place is good for the kind of training we do,” Church said. “It offers opportunities for several kinds of training exercises.
U.S. military Special Forces have also trained at the ranch in recent weeks and more exercises are likely to take place in the future.