Drug Traffickers Co-Opt Fracking Roads

Clever smugglers have tapped into a new pipeline to move their illicit product.

marijuana in hands
(Photo: Getty Images)
Sal holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

There’s a new reason to hate fracking.

In addition to furthering America’s dependence on dirty energy, potentially causing earthquakes, and contaminating well water, the process of hydrofracking is also facilitating the shipping of illegal drugs.

FuelFix is reporting that new roads built to accommodate the boom in natural gas and oil drilling in southern Texas is opening a fissure in U.S.-Mexico border security, which drug traffickers have seized on to move their forbidden product.

Hefty roads running through once-remote ranchlands now enable loaded-down tractor-trailers and pickups to avoid Border Patrol highway checkpoints that have long been the last line of defense for stopping all traffic headed farther into the United States.

MORE: Fracking Catches the Attention of Insurers

Energy companies use these new roads to shuttle heavy drilling equipment necessary to complete the work.

“It is pretty much up to your imagination what they could be moving through there,” said Tony Garcia, director for the South Texas High Intensity Drug Traffic Area, a coalition of state and federal law enforcement agencies. “It is a bit of a dicey situation for us to deal with. We are putting our heads together.”

The smugglers aren’t privy to one method of subterfuge: truck drivers, contractors, and gate personnel have been bribed and “authorities also speculate that the traffickers are trying to make cloned copies of legitimate trucks.”

Three raids highlight the severity of the problem.

- In March, two trucks—one a flatbed and the other a tanker—were caught smuggling 18,665 pounds of marijuana.

- Last July, border patrol agents stopped a bogus oil field truck carrying more than 1,300 pounds of marijuana.

- In June, a truck driven by an energy company worker was secretly housing 3,529 pounds of drugs.

Fracking is an energy-extraction process by which a NSFE (not safe for Earth) liquid cocktail—part water, part chemical, part sand—is blasted into hard rock, thereby fracturing it to allow natural gas and/or oil to flow to the surface.

Will this development pump the brakes on the unbelievable proliferation—production in the Eagle Ford Shale formation, located in southern Texas, went from near nothing in 2008 to 220 billion cubic feet in 2011—in Lone Star state fracking?

Only time will tell.

Should there be a federal law banning fracking in the United States? If so, why? If not, why not?

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