Texas is experiencing great economic benefit from the fracking boom that has seen thousands of jobs created in the southern state; however it has also seen an increase in drug trafficking.
Shale plays, such as the Eagle Ford formation, have led to the development of hundreds of miles of private back roads, crisscrossing the once remote ranchlands, stretching all the way from the Mexican border to Eastern Texas.
Before the US Border Patrol could set up check points along the few major roadways, and check all traffic, quite effectively controlling the smuggling of narcotics. Now however, the network of service roads created by oil companies to deliver drilling equipment and supplies, as well as tankers, make avoiding these checkpoints an easy job.
Traffickers attempt to corrupt truck drivers legally travelling the roads, to carry loads for them. They also look to bribe contractors and gate personnel, and have even started to create replicas of the legitimate vehicles used in order to travel the roads unnoticed.
The South Texas High Intensity Drug Traffic Area, a group of state and federal law enforcement agencies in the region, sent a threat assessment to the White House last month in order to warn the Office of National Drug Control Policy that the shale boom in Texas is making drug trafficking much easier.
Javier Pena, the head of the DEA in Houston, admitted that “once they get past the checkpoints, they are pretty much free,” therefore these new routes for avoiding the checkpoints are a real problem. “There will be employees who think they can make a quick thousand or 15 or 20 thousand (dollars). Once money is involved, someone will always go for it.”
In early March the Border Patrol made their biggest seizure ever when they found 18,665 pounds of marijuana being smuggled aboard a two trucks driving along a road which bypassed a checkpoint. One of the truck drivers admitted that he was being paid $7,500 to make the delivery.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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