VAN HORN, Texas — A new film shot in far West Texas offers a graphic look at the dangers of the drug trade, but "Operation Detour 2" won’t appear in movie theaters — it’s coming to a school near you.
“Every scene that we’ve put in this film has been ripped out of the headlines here in the United States,” said Rusty Fleming, the film’s producer.
Fleming is behind the production that turned a small West Texas high school into a movie set.
“Let’s go ahead and get some blood on him,” Fleming told a woman who painted fake blood on the face of one of the young actors playing a victim.
Fleming then sprayed water on the face of the actor who had the role of the shooter to make it look like he was sweating.
“He’s just pulled a gun on about 50 people. He shot three. He’s got some stress going on here,” said Fleming.
Care is taken to make the crime scene as realistic as possible. A Sherriff’s deputy gave the actor playing the teenage gunman tips on how to hold the weapon for the scene.
“I’m just kind of a technical adviser, helping them with the crime scene and the active shooter, said Robert Wilson with the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office.
The 13-year-old student playing the shooter happened to be the deputy’s son.
All the roles were filled by real students. And real law enforcement officers acted out their response.
After the school shooting scene, a tactical team with the Texas Department of Public safety moved down the hall and burst into the classroom.
“Put your hands behind your back,” yelled one of the Texas Rangers. The director called, “Cut, beautiful.”
The scene was so realistic some of the student actors said they were startled when the Texas Rangers ordered the gunman to drop his weapon and get down on the ground.
“I found that very scary because I’ve never been in a position like that,” said Cassandra Castro, 15, who played one of the shooting victims.
The producer of the film wants students to be aware of real dangers. Fleming said he researched real crimes for more than six months, “school shootings, executions, smuggling operations.”
"Operation Detour 2" is a sequel to a movie that tries to steer youngsters away from the drug trade. It’s part of an awareness campaign developed by the Border Patrol a few years ago.
“In the first one I was a drug trafficker. I was a high school kid who got mixed up in the cartel,” said Adam Ramirez a former student who was in the first film a couple of years ago.
“We’re doing this to help kids make the right decision, make the right choices,” said Ramirez, who is now an assistant coach at another small high school in the area.
The threat is real in this border region. Recently a bus driver at the school where the film was shot found nearly 500 pounds of marijuana on a bus full of junior varsity basket players. The girls and boys teams were returning from out of town games in the border town Presidio.
“This is really happening. This isn’t happening to someone else’s kids. This is happening to your kids,” said Fleming.
The first film targeted students along the border, but the sequel will be shown in schools nationwide to build awareness about the threat posed by cartels who recruit youngsters.
“Now they’re not looking for the thugs, the kids with the tats, the gang bangers. They’re looking for the clean-cut kids, educated, kids,” said Fleming.
Criminal organizations want young people who do not fit a profile and can move drugs, money and guns without arousing suspicion.
“When you’ve got the cartels with the network and the sophistication that they bring, it ups the ante all the way across the country,” he said.
The films will be shown in schools as part of an awareness campaign. It will be presented by local law enforcement.
"Operation Detour 2" debuts in El Paso in January and begins showing in schools in February.
Fleming says the goal is to prevent some of the crimes portrayed in the movie.
“In the end, when this production is done. It will touch some kid across the country and it will save someone’s life and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.