Image courtesy of the FEMA Photo Library.

Federal and local law enforcement officials in North Dakota and Montana are teaming up to fight crime at the country’s most famous oil play.

The Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force is a multi-agency effort aimed at identifying, targeting and dismantling organized crime in the Bakken, including human trafficking, drug and weapons trafficking as well as white collar crimes, the  U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday.

Strike force members will be based out of Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot and Williston, North Dakota, and will work with designated prosecutors to staff and prosecute cases.

A massive influx of aspiring oil tycoons into North Dakota and Montana over the last few years has sent crime rates soaring.

According to the DOJ, there has been a “dramatic” rise in serious crimes around Bakken, including the importation of pure methamphetamine from Mexico and multi-million dollar fraud and environmental crimes.

The strike force’s launch follows the creation of Project Safe Bakken in 2013, a collaborative law enforcement program in Montana and North Dakota brings joins federal, state and tribal law enforcement together to fight criminal activity in the area.

“The Bakken’s criminal impact transcends borders and so should our law enforcement response. The strike force is a welcome addition to our existing multi-jurisdictional law enforcement efforts in the region,” U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter for the District of Montana said.

Spiking crime rates around the Bakken play prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigations to break ground for a new office in Williston, North Dakota earlier this year.

The Bakken shale formation covers about  200,000 square miles from North Dakota to eastern Montana and north to Canada.


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