El Paso, Texas — Wearing baggy blue jeans and hoodies and looking scruffy and unkempt, the state’s elite undercover squad could easily be mistaken for the bedraggled smugglers they are trying to apprehend, or the migrants pouring over the southern border from Mexico.

These specially trained members of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety have perhaps the most dangerous job on the border, acting as double agents and facing certain death if their cover is blown.

Their mission is to blend in with the migrant hordes, identify and apprehend cartel members, human traffickers and drug dealers, as part of the DPS’ efforts to keep criminal elements from entering the US.

The unit is so secretive DPS officials refuse to say how many agents are part of the department, where they specifically operate or allow them to pose for photographs which would reveal their identity, due to concerns for their safety.

“We really can’t say anything,” said Matthew Mull, Major with the DPS’s Criminal Investigation Division in El Paso during The Post’s ride-along with DPS earlier this week.

Undercover agents from the CID division of the Texas DPS were present at a raid in El Paso witnessed by The Post on Wednesday
Undercover agents from the CID division of the Texas DPS were present at a raid in El Paso witnessed by The Post on Wednesday
James Keivom
migrants
CID agents would not allow The Post to photograph their faces for safety reasons
James Keivom

Members of the CID worked alongside DPS’s pilots to provide them with coordinates to chase down a group of smugglers transporting more than a dozen migrants in an overloaded Jeep Wednesday.

A handful of CID agents in their jeans and hoodies swooped into a stash house and arrested two young smugglers.

The Post’s eyewitness reporter at the raid said: “We could not tell the difference between who were the migrants and who were the agents. It was only after they opened their coats that I saw their badges. None of them spoke.”

An infrared picture taken from a helicopter shows CID agents making a raid
An infrared picture taken from a helicopter shows CID agents making a raid
CID Special Investigations

The trooper who accompanied us said they were the elite team.

“They were grizzled, hard-beaten guys who looked like they had seen it all. Tough guys.”

Cartels typically recruit teenage drivers from the US side of the border to transport illegals in cars to and from stash houses.

Agents from the CID division of Texas DPS have to keep their identities hidden beacuse of their dangerous undercover work, often coming into contact with cartel members
Agents from the CID division of Texas DPS have to keep their identities hidden beacuse of their dangerous undercover work, often coming into contact with cartel members
ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images

Agents for the CID are involved in numerous investigations and agencies on both sides of the border.

Their website states its “personnel collaborate with internal and external stakeholders from across the state and internationally to identify, investigate, disrupt, and/or dismantle drug trafficking, human trafficking, and criminal gang organizations.”

As well as tracking organized crime, a separate arm of the CID handles special investigations, while another offers surveillance, forensics and other support.

The CID agents offer a sharp contrast to their DPS counterparts, who wear tan uniforms and cowboy hats as well as shiny black boots.

Migrants amassed at the southern border
Migrants amassed at the southern border
James Keivom

“That’s just the way they like to dress,” Mull told The Post. “It’s typically the way they do business.”

The CID unit was begun during the Second World War and was then known as Criminal Law Enforcement. In 2009, when DPS underwent an overhaul, the unit was renamed with a focus on intelligence gathering and including a mentorship program for state troopers who can opt to train with the unit, which also investigates vehicle theft, Mull said.



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