North Dakota and Montana's oil patch was singled out in the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy report for having “overwhelmed state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies working with limited resources,” reported the Associated Press.
The 102-page national blueprint highlights the dramatic rise in crime in the Bakken oil-producing region. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem confirms drug-related crimes have increased by nearly 20 percent from 2012 to 2013, reported Forum News Service.
“This report said ‘overwhelmed.’ I think a better description would be, we have our hands full,” Stenehjem said. “We have some good operating teams out there, but they need more resources. They need more manpower.”
But Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowski argues that the Drug Enforcement Agency is "invisible" in western North Dakota, and other agencies, including the U.S. Border Patrol, acknowledged challenges with recruiting and retaining law enforcement officers, particularly in western North Dakota.
Michael Botticelli, acting director of the National Drug Control Policy, revealed the drug control strategy Wednesday in Roanoke, Virgina.
The document builds on other reports of unsafe conditions in the Bakken. BBC News recently delivered a scathing portrait of suicides, death by cold and perilous conditions for women. Some female residents are taking protective measures in groups, such as through the Brave Heart Women, which seeks to ban "man-camps" that bring rape and abuse.
The report points to outlaw motorcycle gangs, who are competing to establish their "territory," while facilitating illegal drug trade and prostitution, reported Forum News Service.
U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon of North Dakota said he is glad more awareness is being raised about the need for more government collaboration to help combat drug trafficking in the Bakken.
“The fact is our hometowns in the Bakken are developing big city crime-problems and we need more resources from every level of government to continue this fight,” Purdon said.