Crime is soaring in the rural North Dakota and Montana towns at the center of one of the biggest oil and gas booms in the nation’s history.

“It just feels like the modern-day Wild West,” said Sgt. Kylan Klauzer, an investigator in Dickinson, in western North Dakota. The Dickinson police handled 41 violent crimes last year, up from seven only five years ago, according to the North Dakota Independent Record.

In Watford City, N.D., arrests increased 565 percent since 2005.

In Roosevelt County in Montana, arrests were up 855 percent. The sheriff, Freedom Crawford, said his jail is now too full so offenders are released “for minor crimes like disorderly conduct.”

Mexican cartels and regional methamphetamine and heroin traffickers have moved in too, “hoping to tap the same sources of wealth that have turned farmers into millionaires and shaved unemployment rates to as low as 0.7 percent,” the report said.

The FBI is adding a half dozen agents into the Bakken region.


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