Tulia is a city in, and county seat of, Swisher County, Texas, United States. The population was 5,117 at the 2000 census; in the 2005 census estimate, it had fallen to 4,714. The city is at the junction of U.S. Route 87 and Texas State Highway 86, approximately two miles east Interstate 27. Tulia is a center for farming and agribusiness activities.
Its site was originally on the acreage of the Tule Ranch division of the JA Ranch. In 1887 a post office was established in James A. Parrish's dugout on Middle Tule Draw nine miles west of what is now the site of Tulia. Evidently the name Tule, after the nearby creek, had been selected for this post office, but at some point a clerk's error changed the name to Tulia. By 1900 Tulia was prospering as a stopping point for freight-wagon traffic en route to the railheads of Colorado City and Amarillo. A booming new era began with the extension of the Santa Fe line to Tulia in December 1906. With it came more settlers. In the mid-1980s local industrial plants manufactured products such as clothing and farm implements, and there were four large cattle-feeding enterprises nearby.
Tulia gained notoriety following a drug sting in July 1999 that rounded up 46 people, 40 of whom were African Americans. The remaining detainees were white people known to have ties within the black community, and in fact lived in the "Black" part of town. Nearly one-third of Tulia's Black males were arrested, about 15% of the town's Black population. All charges were based on the word of undercover officer Tom Coleman, a so called "gypsy cop" who made his living traveling through impoverished rural Texas offering to work undercover cheaply for short periods of time for underfunded police departments. Coleman claimed to have made over one hundred drug buys in the small town. He never recorded any of the sales, but claimed to have written painstaking notes on his leg under his shorts and upper arm under his shirt sleeve when nobody was looking.