Pipeline Inspectors May Soon Carry Guns

Eagle Ford Roadways Used for Criminal
Eagle Ford Roadways Used for Criminal

The drug war is now affecting parts of the Eagle Ford as pipeline inspectors express concern for their safety.

As energy companies moved into the Eagle Ford, they have cleared brush and build dirt roads in order to make way for pipelines to carry their product.

This development has had the unintended consequence of providing potential pathways for those smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants, and officials now fear that criminals may come into contact with energy company employees, regulators and landowners.

The issue of the drug cartels exploiting the Eagle Ford Shale’s network of private roads has been a concern since 2012.

Related: Drug Smugglers Using Location Roads to Bypass Border Patrol

The federal government has been ineffective in preventing illegal activity along the border and with the unprecedented amount of oil and gas activity in the Eagle Ford Shale in recent years, Commission inspectors in South Texas have voiced concerns about their safety. It is the Railroad Commission’s duty to protect the health and safety of all Texans – and as Railroad Commissioners, this responsibility extends to ensuring that our staff is protected while doing this important work.
— Texas Railroad Commission Chairman, David Porter

Porter has implemented policy changes to keep inspectors safe including:

  • Ensuring that RRC staff and inspectors who want to carry firearms for self-protection on duty have the opportunity to obtain their concealed handgun license in a timely manner.
  • Requiring inspectors in areas of concern to use the “buddy system” to ensure they are not alone in potentially dangerous areas.
  • Purchasing cell phone boosters for inspector vehicles in remote areas of South Texas that are close to the border and have limited access to mobile communications.

For more  information, go to rrc.state.tx

Drug Use Spikes in Eagle Ford Shale Counties

Since the Eagle Ford oil boom began in South Texas, drug arrests in Dimmit, La Salle, and Frio counties have skyrocketed, according to a recent report in The Austin American Statesman. Experts say the increase in arrests has been fueled by an influx of well-paid workers chasing the shale oil boom. Since 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates 43,000 people have moved to the Eagle Ford region in South Texas.

In Frio County, statistics provided by the local sheriff's office indicate 315 drug-related arrests were made in 2013. That's an astounding increase of 500% from 2011, when only 63 arrests  were made.

In neighboring Dimmit and La Salle counties, drug-related arrests have also been on the rise. In 2013, Dimmit County had 104 drug-related arrests, which was an increase of 263% from 2008. In La Salle County, 73 drug-related arrests were made in 2013. Law enforcement officials indicate that the arrests account for only a fraction of offenders.

Hospital officials in the region have also seen an increase in drug use cases, and injuries stemming from drug-related violence. Rural areas in particular have been affected due to a lack of adequate resources.

The South Texas area encompassing the Eagle Ford Shale has long been a corridor for the Mexican drug cartels to funnel their product into the United States. Law enforcement officials say the geography and infrastructure in the Eagle Ford make it easy for drug runners to operate.

Read more at statesman.com

Drug Smugglers Using Location Roads to Bypass Border Patrol

Southwest Dimmit County Location Roads
Southwest Dimmit County Location Roads

The Eagle Ford Shale's network of private roads is being exploited by drug cartels. In March, two trucks were stopped on Briscoe Ranch and almost 19,000 pounds of marijuana was confiscated. That's a record for the Border Patrol's Del Rio Sector.

Don't expect this to be the last time you hear about drugs in South Texas. The amount of truck traffic and the sheer population growth make the Eagle Ford area a prime target for smugglers. The area simply isn't as remote as it once was.

In some cases, vehicles have been stolen and believed to have been used by smugglers.

As Border Patrol steps up its efforts, you can bet on the cartels getting more creative. The largest load that has been confiscated was being stored in a tanker truck. Larger trucks on the roads mean the smugglers can use larger trucks to bring drugs into the country. If you're working in South Texas, keep an eye open for suspicious activity. It's imperative we protect our border from cartels and terrorist.

Read more at chron.com