Fracking in Texas Enabling Drug, Weapons Trafficking

Here's a story that combines hot button issues fracking, the US-Mexican border, and drugs in one. It seems that the fracking boom in Texas is enabling a little bit more than the extraction of natural gas from beneath rock:

According to a report from the Houston Chronicle, drug traffickers are using the state’s Eagle Ford Shale to move drugs. Cartels have stolen trucks belonging to energy companies, and have bribed truck drivers and contractors who have flooded the area for work. The cartels may also be cloning vehicles to resemble company trucks. This is while new roads sprouting along the oil and gas fields have inadvertently opened new routes around the Border Patrol’s highway checkpoints.

“[Traffickers] are using those roads to transport drugs, guns, ammo, you name it,” Albert DeLeon, chief deputy for the Dimmit County sheriff’s office, told Chronicle reporter Dane Schiller.

Apparently, the new series of roads designed expressly for the fracking fields enable traffickers to go right past checkpoints. Others are feigning involvement in drilling to squeeze in:

Once traffickers bypass the checkpoint, “they are pretty much free,” the Drug Enforcement Administration’s chief Houston officer, Javier Peña, told the Chronicle and Express-News. “It is very much on our radar,” he said. In June, the South Texas High Intensity Drug Traffic Area — a partnership between federal and local police agencies — warned the Obama administration about the shale’s vulnerability to trafficking, the report notes.

There’s also some examples. First, the cartels have cloned Texas government vehicles, like this truck with Texas Department of Transportation markings. In March, police intercepted more than 18,000 pounds of marijuana in two trucks “on a private road leased to energy companies and carrying what looked like supplies used in oil field operations,” Schiller writes.

What a hot, oily, mess. Read more at Wired and The Houston Chronicle.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at July 18, 2012, 6:38am

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