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PONTIAC — Livingston County Chief Deputy Tony Childress is in Texas on a fact-finding mission at the Mexican border, but he says the illegal flow of immigrants and drugs there affects Central Illinois, too. 

"Just last week, we had an overdose death from Mexican heroin," he said of Livingston County. "Folks need to realize we have a plight in this."

Childress, the Republican nominee for sheriff who is unopposed in the November election, is with five sheriffs from four other states on the trip to McAllen, Texas. The trip on Wednesday and Thursday was scheduled to include a firsthand look at the illegal-immigration and drug trafficking problems, meetings with state and federal officials and discussions of the role local law enforcement ought to play.

"This program allows me the opportunity to view the real problems of human trafficking, drug trafficking and border security at ground zero itself," he said.

He worries that as border agents are pulled away to deal with the influx of thousands of children from Central America, efforts to stem the flow of drugs will dwindle. 

"This situation gives drug cartels free rein and we end up with more Mexican heroin on this side of the border," he said. "Those drugs make their way to Central Illinois."

The fact-finding mission is supported by the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition and paid for by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR spokeswoman Anna Giaritelli declined to provide specifics on financial details about the trip.

Also on the trip are sheriffs Tom Hodgson of Bristol County, Mass.; Chuck Jenkins of Frederick County, Md.; Sam Page of Rockingham County, N.C.; Ken Matlack of Morrow County, Ore.; and Lewis Evandelidis of Worchester County, Mass.

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Edith Brady-Lunny contributed to this report.

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Agriculture Reporter

Agriculture reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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