A traffic stop led to a seizure of 67 pounds of methamphetamine by Texas law enforcement just days after the announcement of a partnership between the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Austin Police, according to Fox News.
Special agents from the Texas Department of Public Safety took control of the massive drug haul after the Austin Violent Crimes Task Force arrested two suspects, Wilfredo Tecum Rodriguez and Ludvid Aroldo Gonzalez-Lopez, after a traffic stop on March 30, 2023.
The stop revealed nearly 70 pounds of meth stored in 30 Ziploc bags.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott stated on Twitter that the "partnership between Austin Police and [Texas Department of Public Safety] is already making a difference. Public safety is priority #1 in Texas. Glad to work with the City of Austin to make our state’s capital safer."
According to an internal memo obtained by Fox News, a member of the Bloods gang and a member of the Texas Mexican Mafia were both arrested the same day. Law enforcement also seized other small quantities of illegal drugs, handing out 14 felonies and four misdemeanor arrests.
A series of budgeting and contract issues have plagued Austin's police department in the last few years after the city council cut the budget by around a third in 2020, only to refund the police the following year due to state laws.
Difficulties agreeing on a new contract between the city and the police union were also very public. The previous deal, which expired at the end of March 2023, was replaced by a one-year contract described as a last-minute negotiation by the city, shaved down from an original term of four years.
Despite this, the city council still voted to preserve policy pay and benefits, opting to increase police pay by 4% for all officers of lower ranks and giving signing bonuses up to $15,000 for new recruits.
The moves are credited to interim City Manager Jesus Garza, who appears keen to deal with a police shortage in the state's capital.
"We’ve moved quickly to address staffing issues — recruit new officers, retain experienced officers, and staff up in our 9-1-1 call centers," Garza said in a statement, adding that "those efforts take time, and we can’t wait to make sure Austinites feel safe."
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