Washington (CNN) — Attention, all drug runners. Your days of using caltrops to avoid apprehension are over — at least in Texas.
Caltrops — more commonly known as road spikes — are jumping-jack-shaped objects that, when tossed on roadways, always point up and have a devastating impact on tires. Drug runners have increasingly used the devices when fleeing from law enforcement officers, officials say.
Beginning Thursday, caltrops are illegal in the Lone Star State.
State Rep. Aaron Pena crafted the caltrop ban at the behest of the U.S. Border Patrol, whose tires have borne the caltrops’ trademark slashes.
“There’s a portion of my district which goes right up to the border, the (Rio Grande) river,” Pena said. “And caltrops are used there probably more than any other location in the United States.”
The homemade caltrops found in Pena’s district probably are made in Mexico. Typically, they are little nails that are welded together. They are cheap, easy to deploy and, Pena says, very effective. “If you run over a caltrop, your tires will deflate,” he said.
Caltrops also are indiscriminate. Those that do not puncture the tires of pursuing police cars sometimes puncture the tires of citizens’ cars. No one spoke in opposition to the ban at a hearing, Pena said.
But caltrops are hardly a new idea. There are numerous references throughout history of caltrops being used to puncture the feet of enemy soldiers or the hooves of their horses. John Dillinger, employing a similar tactic, is alleged to have tossed nails behind his car to defeat pursuing police officers following a bank robbery.
The new Texas law prohibits the possession, manufacture, transportation, repair or sale of caltrops. But it exempts tire puncture strips that are designed to puncture tires when driven in a specific direction, such as those at car rental facilities, and caltrops used as curios, such as those in museums, or on display in Pena’s office.
Will the ban stop drug runners from using caltrops?
“No,” Pena conceded. “No, it won’t. But it is a small measure that taken with other small measures will add up to an effective response.”
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Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/08/31/texas.drug.technology/