Editor's Note: Watch the full report from Martin Savidge on AC360° at 8 p.m. ET.
Sullivan City, Texas is unlike other border towns I've visited. It's one of several towns along the Rio Grande Valley on the southernmost tip of Texas. People here have a close connection with those across the Rio Grande in Mexico. They are cousins, brothers, sisters, uncles, even parents to relatives on both sides of the border. With family members so close, many have spent generations traveling across the tiny border here to visit the other side.
On the American side, the populations are relatively small. The area consists of dusty towns that line Highway 83 along the border. There is a lot of farm land, some small business and a handful of traffic lights in each town.
We did what very few people have done in recent years. We took the hand-pulled ferry across the border into Mexico to get a better understanding of the relationship between the two sides.
We found that the Mexican side of the border was a little livelier. There were more homes, more businesses, yet unlike previous years, there are very few Americans there anymore. The drug war has frightened people. They are well aware of the violence that occurs here every night. They say they can hear gun shots coming from across the Rio Grande, and many listen to Mexican news outlets reporting on the cartel killings.
Residents here also say they deal with something very troubling, and no one is quite sure how to stop it. The problem is deep-seated police corruption. They say the police in these small towns earn very little money, which makes it tempting to work with the cartels. Many of the cartel members bribing cops are also relatives. They say it's an issue leaders inWashington, D.C.don't understand, and it can’t be prevented by a fence or even boots on the ground.
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