Drug Smugglers Using The Oil And Gas Industry For Transport

Energy companies looking for natural gas and oil in South Texas are building hundreds of miles of back roads. Officials say those same roads are being used by drug traffickers from Mexico.

Heavy roads running through once-remote ranchlands are used daily by loaded-down tractor trailers and pickups from energy companies as they leave the massive Eagle Ford Shale formation rich with crude oil and natural gas. But the route that stretches from Mexico all the way to East Texas is also being used by drug traffickers.

Javier Pena heads the Drug Enforcement Administration's Houston division, which includes San Antonio and reaches to the Mexican border.

"This oil and gas boom in South Texas right now, it's great for the economy. It's creating a lot of jobs. However, we know that the trafficker wants to move his dope, and he'll do anything to move it, even to the extent of trying to corrupt some oil and gas employees."

He says if they didn't bribe a truck driver, the traffickers will clone the energy company vehicles.

"The main thing the trafficker wants to do is bypass our checkpoints. And because of this oil and gas boom, roads are being built. They're great roads to move their equipment. So they're utilizing these roads to bypass the checkpoints."

Pena says this method of illegal transport was a no-brainer to authorities.

"We knew it was coming. We have our intelligence methods; however, we've got to work smarter, which I think we are. It's a new frontier for us; however, we're gonna be ahead of the game with these methods."    

The Texas Oil and Gas Association says it's been working with the Governor's office on ways to coordinate private sector needs and security.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...