Energy companies boring into the depths of South Texas in the multibillion-dollar hunt for natural gas and oil are opening a growing fissure in U.S.-Mexico border security as they build hundreds of miles of private back roads and an uncharted pipeline to the U.S. for drug traffickers, the Houston Chronicle reports. Hefty roads through once-remote ranchlands 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.
Traffickers are seeking to use the southwest-most stretches of the massive Eagle Ford shale formation, which stretches from Mexico to East Texas, to their advantage by trying to corrupt truck drivers, contractors, and gate personnel. Authorities speculate that they are trying to make “cloned” copies of legitimate trucks and use contractor-like vehicles to avoid standing out among fleets of oil-field service vehicles working for energy companies. In some cases, vehicles have been stolen and believed to have been used by smugglers. “They are using those roads to transport drugs, guns, ammo, you name it,” said Albert Deleon of the Dimmit County sheriff’s office.