What It’s Like to Be an FBI Agent in a Border Town

Laredo, Texas. Photo by philipbarrett2003, Flickr

Lawson moved out of his extended-stay hotel and into a house in Laredo, not far from some of the Treviños’ extended family, he says. He came to appreciate the camaraderie of working the border, a destination so low on agents’ wish lists that the bureau lets them transfer wherever they want after five years. Most of the agents were young and single, since no one with any seniority lasts, and the bosses nurtured a culture that felt more like a cop shop than a federal bureau, with a loose dress code and looser language. They played poker and went to happy hour when they could.

The FBI agents felt some kinship with those from the other federal agencies in Laredo, which all share an office. There was also competitiveness, though. They were all chasing Zetas, whose fight with the Gulf Cartel had grown so violent that agents sometimes went to the border to listen to gunfights.

Joe Tone, writing in the Dallas Observer about how the Feds took down a drug cartel’s horse-racing empire.

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